May 20, 2011
Partners in Prevention speakers say CEOs must focus on workplace safety
Improving safety in workplaces has to be a constant focus of conversation in company boardrooms, say the top executives of four Ontario-based companies.
“We are the keepers of the keys. If we are not living and breathing it, then we should not expect our employees to embrace that safety culture,” said Ted Moroz, president of The Beer Store and Brewers Retail Limited.
“CEOs have to embrace it … and have to surround themselves with people that share those values so employees believe you when you talk about how much you care for them.”
Moroz was joined by Frank Saunders, vice- president of nuclear oversight and regulatory affairs for Bruce Power, Roy Slack, president of Cementation Canada Inc. and Steve Jones, president of The People Bank, on a panel moderated by CBC TV journalist Amanda Lang during the recent Partners in Prevention 2011 Health and Safety Conference and Trade Show.
“Visibility is key,” said Saunders. “If a CEO does not ask about safety, people will believe he is not thinking about it. In the executive boardroom, how much does the issue of safety come up?”
Safety is paramount for a mining company like Cementation Canada that basically does “underground construction” as Slack said. In addition to already conducting intense work, a growing workforce always tests the safety culture of a firm such as Cementation since integrating new workers presents the possibilities for site safety to erode.
“We are hiring more people — our Canadian operations have 600 more employees in the last eight months — so you try to establish your corporate culture of safety on these projects,” explained Slack.
“We are working on how do we orientate. How do we get new people into our culture as quickly as possible?
“That is our challenge, to get back to zero (injuries),” said Slack. “It is a constant battle. There’s always a chance of an injury and you have to do whatever you can to prevent them. To get to zero is one point. Sustaining it is another challenge.”
Slack said that for some projects, a management team will show pictures and reports of other Cementation project sites that achieved perfect safety records to prove it is possible.
In the temporary staffing industry, there’s a highly transitional workforce that enters a work environment that companies like The People Bank cannot manage, supervise or control, said Jones. Joining industry safety associations has been key in learning best practices, innovations, improved worker training, securing rebates and injury reduction, he added.
Jones said his company’s safety culture focuses on “activities” such as inspections or training program attendance to see if the safety message is coming through. Year-end reports are “lagging indicators” of safety effectiveness.
“Focus on the activities knowing that if we are doing the right thing today the result we will get, in the future, is the result we are hoping for,” Jones said.
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