Safety professionals from across Canada were in Toronto on Oct. 30 to celebrate the third annual Canada’s Safest Employers Award. The awards are hosted by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine, which recently saw a new editor take its helm — former Canadian HR Reporter senior editor Amanda Silliker.
“When I first started in this new job in August, one of the things I was looking forward to the most was participating in these awards,” Silliker told the more than 300 guests at the ceremony. “My favourite day on the job so far was probably the day I got to call all the winners and tell them they had won. It was great to hear how excited they were that their efforts in health and safety were being recognized.”
This year, the awards added six new categories to the roster, bringing the total number of awards to 11, including one recognizing outstanding achievement in workplace wellness.
“Increasingly, organizations are adding wellness in their health and safety strategies, driven by an understanding that the issues which broadly comprise wellness — medical conditions, mental health, stress, financial and home life problems — have a major impact upon employee productivity, health and longevity,” said John Hobel, publisher of Canadian Occupational Safety and Canadian HR Reporter.
“Just ask yourself: Does an employee who is suffering from an undiagnosed diabetes condition or who is distracted by a stressful situation in their personal life have a greater likelihood of an accident in the workplace?”
The wellness award category received the greatest number of applications, but only one could take home gold: Mississauga, Ont.-based Morguard Investments.
Its 1,400 employees are invited to order ergonomic items for their work stations and can attend lunchtime cooking classes demonstrating how to prepare healthy meals. The company also holds an annual wellness fair, conducts blood pressure and cholesterol screenings and has healthy snacks in vending machines.
“By providing employees with a robust wellness program, we are improving their well-being and job satisfaction, as well as raising retention rates,” said Morguard president and CEO Stephen Taylor in his acceptance speech.
“We know that healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive employees and we understand that the welfare of employees has a direct impact on the success of our company.”
At the ceremony, Maureen Shaw, B.C. Health and Safety Leadership Charter advisor and Mental Health Commission of Canada Workforce Advisory Committee member addressed the crowd.
“I was full of hope for the future,” said Shaw, who had an opportunity to review some of the award applications. “We have thoughtful, thinking, intelligent people in companies spread across Canada.”
She urged attendees to ensure Canadian health and safety professionals are educated so they can speak the language of business as well as being equipped with the tools to support employees in need.
“(They) will have to provide advice and support for the key cultural aspects of the workplace and the physical, social, mental and psychological health of the workers and the workplace,” she said. “This is not the soft stuff of business — but is the hard stuff.”
It’s important to hold an awards ceremony celebrating workplace safety, said Don Van Meer, president of Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business, publishers of Canadian Occupational Safety and Canadian HR Reporter.
“Being part of this safety community makes work more satisfying, as does honouring those we recognize tonight.”
Some of 2013’s biggest news stories showed why safety needs to be on the forefront of every employer’s mind.
“Tragedies such as the factory fires in Bangladesh that killed hundreds of people making clothing for western consumers and the train derailment Quebec, remind us all of the difference between complying with the law and creating truly safe corporations,” he said.
“Tonight’s award winners stand as examples of organizations whose health and safety initiatives raise the bar on safety both in Canada and globally.”
n canada’s safest employers for 2013
And the winners are…
• Nordion (Canada)
• Innovative Automation
• Nestlé Waters Canada
• Parkland County
• County of Wellington
• Hallmark Tubulars
• Dufferin Aggregates
• Ausenco Engineering Canada
OIL AND GAS
• Tarpon Energy Services
• Criterion Catalysts & Technologies Canada
• Apex Oilfield Services
• Vancouver Airport Authority
• Air Canada
• Peterborough Utilities Group
• Valard Construction
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION
• Cruickshank Construction
• Borger Group of Companies
• Haztech Fire and Safety
• Shepherd’s Care Foundation
RETAIL AND SERVICES
• Morguard Investments
• Scotiabank Convention Centre
• Morguard Investments
• Fairmont Royal York
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