Canadian safety professionals from across the country gathered in Toronto on Sept. 6 for the second annual Canada’s Safest Employers Award.
About 230 guests ditched their hard hats and protective gloves to celebrate the outstanding achievement of their safety colleagues who actively promote health and safety within their workplaces.
The awards are hosted by Canadian Occupational Safety magazine, which joined the Canadian HR Reporter family of publications earlier this year when Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business, acquired the magazine.
“(Canada’s Safest Employers Award) really provides us with an opportunity to expand beyond compliance to embrace and recognize the spirit of workplace safety,” said Don Van Meer, p
resident and CEO of Carswell, speaking at the event. “There’s more than just meeting legislative requirements. It’s about a commitment: A commitment to change behaviours, to adopt best practices, to work proactively to ensure each and every worker returns home safe at the end of their workday. It’s this conviction and spirit that is present here tonight.”
Kellie Leitch, parliamentary secretary to Canada’s Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, was in attendance and also addressed the crowd.
“Each year in Canada, nearly 1,000 Canadians die from accidents at work. That means roughly three workers are killed every day,” she said. “Making workplaces safer and thereby preventing job-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses is the right thing to do, and it’s everyone’s responsibility.”
While maintaining her duties for the labour minister, Leitch volunteers as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
“Workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses have a very high cost in social and human terms. I see this among the families I treat every week,” Leitch said. “The employers being honoured here tonight are workplace safety champions, and were selected for their outstanding achievements in the field. “They are role models of success, and we can learn a lot from them.”
The evening’s keynote speaker was Rob Ellis, who lost his 18-year-old son in a workplace accident in 1999. Since then, Ellis has become an advocate for workplace safety and founded Our Youth at Work, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting young workers on the job.
“I’m looking around today and I’m seeing leaders who have come out with us and have done such an amazing job,” he said. “With the support of great champions like you, we can make a difference in all of our lives.”
Ellis travels around the country speaking to students about the importance of workplace safety. When he visits a school, he brings along a leader from an organization that excels in promoting workplace safety.
He allows an open discussion at the end of his presentations and the leader he brings with him is always asked the same question: “What does a great Canadian employer look like?”
“(The leaders) don’t talk about incident levels. They don’t talk about near misses and they don’t talk about daily recordings,” said Ellis. “They talk about the best companies being built on trust. They talk about the best companies being built on transfer of knowledge. They talk about the best companies working with people at all levels to create behaviours of excellence that will impact safety, production and performance. That’s what a great company is all about.”
Employers need to retain young Canadian workers because they are assets to business and will keep Canada competitive, he said.
“Is the future of our country worth the fight today?” said. Ellis “It absolutely is and I’ve got some champions here tonight who will make a difference in the future of our country. Congratulations every single one of you — you’re great, great champions.”
And the winners are…
2012 CSE award winners
Building and construction
Gold recipient: Pronghorn Controls
• Athabaskan Resource Company
• Hatch Mott MacDonald
Gold recipient: Fileco
• Canadian Fertilizers
Mining and natural resources
Gold recipient: Hallmark Tubulars
Gold recipient: Carewest
• London Drugs
• Calgary Catholic School District
Transportation and Utilities
Gold recipient: Peterborough Utilities Group
• Power Stream
• Vancouver International Airport Authority
Photos by Tim Fraser
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