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March 2017

Five Ways to Build a Stronger Safety Culture


(Image: Walsh Canada VP Craig Lesurf (r) celebrates workplace safety with Rob Ellis, President of MySafe Work)

Ensuring every worker safely returns home at the end of each day is constantly at the forefront of our minds, and it takes continued due diligence. With a fresh start in 2017, now is the time to access the right plan for your workforce and company to achieve maximum safety awareness, resulting in significant reduction in incidents, accidents and near misses.

Safety Week, an industry-wide event dedicated the education and celebration of safety in the workplace across the United States and Canada, provides a chance to examine and reinforce your company’s commitment to safety. This commitment is strongest when it’s woven into the culture of an organization and a visible part of everyday routines and processes. Utilize this week as an opportunity to positively reinforce the value of safety across your organization by following these five steps:


Bring the commitment to safety to an individual, personal level by asking company leaders to consider these questions:

• How engaged am I in company safety programs?
• How can I increase my engagement levels with the project teams?
• Can I make a difference to our workers’ safety by engaging more?
• Does our company empower me to make a difference in workplace safety?
• How do I influence our company and my leadership?

After your leaders consider these questions, ask them to make a pledge to commit to something this year that they believe will make a difference in their personal safety performance and help provide an injury-free workplace. These should become action plans that can be shared with employees, asking for their feedback.

If you are a leader in your company, then ask yourself what can you do to be a better leader? What can I do to engage all workers on our project sites and offices? How do I enable others to become leaders and adopt a culture of safety?


The commitment to safety begins at the highest levels, in an effort to showcase that safety promise, executives and management personnel should make safety-specific visits to each jobsites throughout SafetyWeek.

Maximize your time on the jobsite by meeting with workers and identifying with their daily workloads and responsibilities. While on location, attend safety-specific meetings and briefings, complete a jobsite safety audit/inspection, engage in safety-specific discussions with foremen and other crew members. This is also an ideal opportunity to solicit feedback from workers on site conditions and company values.

• What are we doing well?
• What can we do better?
• Do you feel safe on the jobsite?
• What does safety mean to you?


Challenge your project teams to confidentially assess where the project measures in terms of safety performance (non-compliant, compliant, good practice, best in class).

During the evaluation, focus on safety culture, employee competency/training, communications (best practices, incident reviews, etc.), compliance with regulations, and subcontractor performance.

If you have not done so already, utilize Safety Week to put your safety plans into motion, and begin to work toward achieving “best in class” status. Engage trade personnel to join in this effort as well, as they are a valued partner and will carry your safety commitment with them into the future.


The official Safety Week 2017 website ( offers a wide-range of events and activities to hold throughout the first week in May, including sharing photos of weekly activities on social media using #safetyweek; hosting a Safety Roadshow and inviting vendors to showcase new tools and safety equipment; and holding safety training sessions (hand injury prevention, fall protection, ladder safety, etc.).

Safety education events are extremely productive where Tool Box Talks, educational material and best practices can be shared from safety leaders across North America. Free handouts and giveaways provide extra incentive, along with safety breakfasts or lunches that celebrate safety and promote comraderie.

Contests also drive up safety engagement; posters, golf putting, dunking booths, best safety ideas and family cookouts. Involving the children and family of our workforce is powerful, these are the people we who rely on us to keep their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters safe.


Safety Week is an opportune time to review policies and procedures on individual jobsites. Here are some activities:

• Hold Emergency Response Drills: Invite emergency response teams to come on site to assess emergency response protocols
• Perform a Safety Rollback: Include site housekeeping, cord/tool inspections, rigging inspections and proper storage, assured grounding inspections, PPE inspections, fire safety inspections.
• Educate your workers - in 2017 the focus for SafetyWeek2017 is on HAND SAFETY and the slogan is “Take FIVE for safety”. Tool box talks, educational material and best practices will be shared from safety leaders across North America.

Rob Ellis, President of MySafeWork often asks, "What do good companies look like? Well, they care for their staff, they care for others, are proactive about safety and lead by example".

The main objectives for raising the bar for Safety in our industry are generating awareness, increasing education, promoting positive reinforcement, evolving cultures, and sharing best practices.

These objectives will support our collective efforts to ensure that our workforce works safe, that our new workers are protected and everyone returns home in the same condition as when they arrived.

Here’s what YOU can do to raise the bar for Safety:
1. Challenge the status quo.
2. Participate in SafetyWeek2017.
3. Take part in additional initiatives such as Safety Week.
4. Join the League of Champions (Canada) to use as your lever to improve safety culture at your company.
5. Volunteer to make a difference for safety in our industry.
6. Share; after all safety is not proprietary!
7. Make it personal – use personal reasons to motivate people.

LEADERS NEED TO LEAD and unless we all step up to make a difference, people will continue to get hurt in our industry, and that is unacceptable. So, ask yourself, are you a Leader?

Full story also available in On-Site, Canada's Construction Magazine, March 2017 Issue



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