Tag Archive for: workplace


Protecting Client Confidentiality in Public: Laptops and Phones

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

My recent blog Confidentiality in a Coffee Shop:  Conducting Business in Private Places” highlighted the things professionals need to keep in mind when having private conversations in public spaces.  But the issue of privacy does not just include conversations that can be overheard.  It also includes using our electronics to carry out business anywhere where our screen could be visible to others. 

I was at two conferences recently where I was able to clearly see the work of others who were multi-tasking.  At one, a psychologist was sitting beside me and was editing reports with his computer on his lap.  His screen was fully visible. I could see everything he was doing including client names, claim or personal identifiers, and the written account of each individuals’ psychological assessment.  Of course, I had no business reading the material so I glanced away, but had I been interested, I could have clearly obtained information that was not meant for me, and information that a client did not consent for me to have.  In another conference example, a professional was sitting in front of me at another table.  She too was working on her laptop and I was able to see, even one table over, what she was doing.  She was not writing reports, but I did see her managing some personal financial material which I am sure she didn’t realize was visible.  As a close colleague, I reminded her at the break to be careful with her computer and what she was working on.

I am also often on the GO train venturing in and out of Toronto.  That is a hotbed of people working while they commute – on both their phones and their computers.  In my interest about this topic of privacy, I have noticed that some people have found ways to protect the privacy of their devices.  With some help from a trusted techy-friend, I wanted to provide some of these strategies to you, in case you are using your computer or phone to manage confidential or private information in public places:


On Andriod devices (sorry iPhone users) there are applications (apps) you can download that will put a filter on your device that allows you to only see the screen head-on, leaving those at different angles unable to clearly see your information.  Some of these helpful apps are:


Products exist to put over computer monitors, laptop screens and phones that will distort the view from different angles.  For example, take a look at the complete line of privacy screen protectors from 3M3M offers an entire line of screen protectors that work on multiple devices and offer varying levels of protection.

The big picture is that the protection of privacy is everyone’s business, but this is especially true in health care.  Taking steps to conceal devices and screens is just as important as storing other confidential information properly.  The more portable our work-life becomes the more we need to safeguard the information we possess.


Workplace Safety – Not Optional

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 2.34 million occupational fatalities every year across the globe. In Canada alone injury and illness at work continues to be a significant problem.

It is estimated that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from working cost Canadian society upwards of $20 billion a year. Reports from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in 2012 indicate that 43% of the claims were due to sprains and strains, 20% were due to low back injury and 19% were due to overexertion.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Occupational safety and health (OSH) is a cross-disciplinary area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. This Act explains the procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and allows the law to be enforced when workplaces have not adhered to the policies put in place.

Occupational therapists are experts at helping injured people to return to their jobs in modified or full capacities, or assist people to be retrained or find alternative forms of work if their previous occupation is no longer suitable. We conduct jobsite evaluations to outline the physical and cognitive work demands, assess the individual’s physical, cognitive and emotional preparedness to return, and often look at the ergonomics of their workstation or body positioning when doing the job. The overarching goal of all this is to ensure that people can return to work safely, can perform tasks independently, are productive, and to reduce the risk of re-injury. We also provide devices, education, organize work schedules and gradual return programs, and collaborate with employers, physicians and other health professionals to promote a successful outcome. With respect to prevention, we conduct workshops and provide education and training programs for employers and employees alike to promote health and safety while engaging in all work tasks.

April 28th is recognized as The World Day for Safety and Health at Work. It is held as an annual international campaign that seeks to promote safe, healthy and decent work environments. It also commemorates people who have had an accident or injury in the course of their job. It is important that we are all involved in this initiative – workplace safety should not be optional. Consider these four steps to make sure that health and safety are paramount in your organization:

  1. Get on board: You don’t have to be an owner or boss to be concerned about safety. Everyone is responsible for contributing to a safe workplace.
  2. Get in the know: Understand the hazards and risks at your own workplace.
  3. Get involved: If you see a hazard on the job, speak up and offer your insight and possible solutions.
  4. Get more help: All workers have the right to refuse work if they have reason to believe it is dangerous. Speak to a supervisor if you have concerns, or seek guidance from the Ontario Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

Or, if you are off work due to injury or illness and need help returning, would like solutions to help you work more comfortably, or are concerned about the impact of your job on your physical, cognitive or emotional health, consider contacting an occupational therapist. We are here to help.


Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

United Nations.

Ministry of Labour.

Ministry of Labour.