Engage and Adapt: Nunavut’s collaborative model for success

Mosesie Lewis, Steve Horvath, and Lazarus Arreak

Mosesie Lewis, Steve Horvath, and Lazarus Arreak

“Don’t go hunting alone if you want to come back with something.”

Those words were shared with me by an Inuit elder in Iqaluit during a casual conversation about relations between the community, mining industry and government up in Nunavut.  For me it painted a vivid portrait of a perspective on the role of community, culture and the spirit of collaboration in balancing mutual goals and individual needs.

Their community involvement model is strategic, collaborative and opportunity-driven.  Their sense of cooperation is broad and inclusive built on common purpose and communication between the partners and the whole community.  A common understanding is sought before agreements are made that defines a systemic approach supported by tools, education and empowered by the Federal and Territorial governments.  Consequently, the local community and resource companies have both learned to engage and adapt for shared success – an effective framework for CCOHS’ own collaboration efforts across jurisdictional and sectorial lines.

My time up in Nunavut was brief, but educational and perspective-altering.  My conversations with people revealed their deep respect for the environment and its potential to provide for the future.  They have understood this for generations, and now it extends to the resources below the earth.  The community in Nunavut is resolute and united in a process that balances integrating economic considerations with Inuit values based on their sense of stewardship for, and belonging to, the land.

All in all, it was a reminder for me that it is only through collaboration and alignment of values that we will truly achieve collective success.

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To Serve and Protect

Steve Horvath, President and CEO at CCOHS

Steve Horvath, President and CEO at CCOHS

To Serve and Protect. This is a simple but powerful statement displayed on police cruisers, and yet I think I’ve taken it for granted – a realization I made while attending a conference hosted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). Two hundred and fifty representatives from police forces across Canada were brought together for two days to focus on the advancement of mental health issues in policing such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – an amazing accomplishment that speaks to the priority the association has placed on this problem.

Officers are trained to not only provide support to their communities but to be compassionate and caring every day to individuals in despair. They understand their role and the expectations society places on them and I’m sure that doesn’t come without stressors; after all, the risks are high in this line of work. As I sat there listening to each speaker, one reoccurring thought kept plaguing me. This passion to protect the community needs to be turned inward and focused on mental health to help protect themselves and their fellow officers. After all, if we can’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others?

That’s why I believe that early intervention is the key to creating a mentally healthy workplace. Officers are best positioned to recognize early on-set of changes in behavior in their co-workers and to respond with encouragement and guidance to seek help before it deteriorates into a debilitating illness. This is the concept of creating a culture of caregivers in the workplace that I have spoken about. It is the ability to look at themselves and their peers with the same lens that they look at others.

Throughout the conference, there was recognition of the unique challenges facing police services, including not only the external factors associated with working in a high-risk line of work, engaging with the public and exposure to the inherent realities of being a first responder, but also the organizational and cultural aspect of policing. There was a sense of urgency, collective will and common sense of purpose because it is a shared crisis that, given particular circumstances, could overwhelm any of us.

Despite the fact that the aggregate of these factors makes this seem like a daunting task, I participated in discussions and witnessed a positive attitude that left me full of optimism that the police services across Canada have chosen to tackle this mental health issue head-on. There were certainly difficult and honest discussions from those sharing their personal struggles with work issues, but I am convinced we would not have had this conversation in such a broad forum only a couple of years ago. The fact that all these officers continue to not only contribute , but thrive in their careers after debilitating challenges is a testimony to how far police services have progressed in a short period of time. Peer support and leadership is the foundation of any successful anti-stigma campaign, leading to an early intervention and a mentally healthy workplace.

Openly confronting issues of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and stress shows real progress, leadership, and commitment to staff, as well as a willingness to adopt meaningful cultural change towards creating a climate of mutual support. I am convinced that organization wide resiliency can be found in the comradeship and support for which the policing community is known.

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Corporate Leaders of Tomorrow: Inspiring Confidence

Steve Horvath joins the judging panel at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.).

Steve Horvath joins the judging panel at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.).


Last week I was honoured to represent professional industry experts as a judge in the oldest and most prestigious undergraduate business case competition, the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) hosted by Queen’s University School of Business. This competition has become a global forum for the brightest minds from the top business schools across North America, Asia and Europe and provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate their analytical and presentation skills in front of judges, faculty and fellow students.

The quality of the presentations was exceptional, as was the dialogue with the students afterward. For me, this was the most personally fulfilling aspect – speaking with the participants in an informal setting about their vision and personal perspectives.
During the participants’ reception after the competition, I was seated at a table with 10 young business undergrads, all who happened to be women. They were engaging and interesting and I was struck by their energy and optimism. I found myself reflecting on how rarely we give our young business minds credit for their sense of the pulse of today’s global market realities. The students had a refreshing perspective on the complexities of tomorrow’s business environment, yet I couldn’t help thinking that the business community under-values the diversity of youth and their understanding of emerging markets and their role in influencing them. Clearly, despite all my years of experience, I was the true beneficiary of this free-wheeling, informal discussion. I couldn’t have been seated at a better table.

This whole experience opened my eyes in so many ways. I left Kingston feeling as I had seen the future through the eyes of the next generation of leaders. They painted a picture of tomorrow that is bright, full of potential and will rest in good hands. It’s refreshing to see that the foundation for future corporate excellence is strong and reliable.

I hope all of the participants left the competition with a sense of accomplishment and confidence in the value they provide in shaping the future. I know I did. And I hope I’m invited back again next year . . . I still have so much to learn.

Steve Horvath talks to business students.

Steve Horvath talks to business students.

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Making a Difference: End of Year Reflections

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From time to time, I think it’s a healthy exercise for our own spiritual and mental well-being to take a brief pause to reflect and get our bearings. It’s this time of year when we crave the indulgence of some quiet moments to look inward and assess whether we are on the right path for what we aspire to achieve. The same can be said for our organization.

Now is the time to reflect on how past accomplishments have enriched us and how some of the challenges we’ve faced have empowered our position as a lively and effective organization that can anticipate and respond to constantly shifting demands. This can only arise from our relationships and deep understanding of our stakeholders’ needs.

I am particularly proud of the fact that, through our collaborative efforts, CCOHS has become an institution where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are blessed with a knowledgeable and engaged staff that has responded to challenges with resilience and drive to improve the well-being of working Canadians. At the same time, looking to the future allows us to reach beyond our grasp. It permits us to have a vision of the future that defines who we want to be and what we want to look like.
Building on our foundation of success, I look to that future and envision our evolution into an aspiring organization – always seeking excellence by leveraging our greatest attributes, those being trust and credibility, to build enduring relationships, expertise and value throughout Canada. Our success here will lead to what I perceive as one of the critical purposes of the Centre.

We will achieve our mission to be a leading workplace health and safety organization by staying focused on our collective vision of success, helping working Canadians across the country and using our collective occupational health and safety experience to provide tomorrow’s solutions to today’s problems.

I look forward to seeing what 2015 brings, and I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season and a Happy New Year.

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Celebrating the Past and Looking Forward: OHCOW Marks its 25th Anniversary

Recently, I had the honour of celebrating the Occupational Health Clinics of Ontario Workers (OHCOW) 25th anniversary at their event Celebrating the Past and Looking Forward. Our organizations have had a long-standing history of collaborating and sharing information and resources with the common goal to help Ontario workers stay safe on the job. I truly believe the synergy of our organizations has served workers successfully over the years.

To show our appreciation of our 20 year affiliation, I presented OHCOW with a plaque recognizing our partnership, and shared some of my personal thoughts and reflections of their organization. I believe each clinician; pioneer and tireless workplace safety advocate at OHCOW have provided our country with an immense amount of value. I especially saw this when CCOHS hosted a delegation from China a few years ago. We introduced the group to the staff at OHCOW and after reviewing their operations, the delegates returned to Chongqing and built a workers’ health clinic inspired by what they saw at the OHCOW offices. Now, tens of thousands of workers are receiving clinical services and counseling for occupational issues as a result of the OHCOW model.

Another reason to celebrate OHCOW
The event marked the official launch of the Mental Injury Toolkit (MIT) and the Measure Workplace Stress App. This special project was a collaborative effort between OHCOW and CCOHS to build a new smartphone application that provides a set of tools for workers to measure their level of workplace stress. It will also correlate the worker response input, highlight issues for focus, and provide direction for obtaining more information.

Congratulations to OHCOW on 25 years of commitment and caring and making a difference in the quality of Ontario workers’ lives.

Steve Horvath, President and CEO at CCOHS and John Oudyk, Occupational Hygienist at OHCOW

Steve Horvath, President and CEO at CCOHS and John Oudyk, Occupational Hygienist at OHCOW

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A New Generation in Health and Safety

International Youth CongressOne of the most meaningful events organized at the triennial World Congress on Health and Safety was the establishment of the first International Youth Congress. It was my honour to be involved with such a valuable initiative and to have the opportunity to introduce these young participants to the World Congress at the symposium I co-chaired and helped organize.

The youth were exposed to health and safety issues and principles through education and interactive exercises directed by Christopher Preuße of DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance) in Germany. For me, it was reassuring to dialogue with our future leaders and to hear about the issues that are moulding the way we will be responding to a new generation of concerns and expectations. Not only are their ideas shaped by their generation, but also by a factor that industry to date has failed to respond to – their diversity. Industry has categorized them all as “Gen Y” and assumed generalizations in addressing their needs. We must recognize that this generation preparing to enter the workforce is far more diverse than the present workforce. In fact, just amongst the group that we had attending the Youth Congress, were students from countries such as Azerbaijan, U.K. and Japan – all with different perspectives and experiences to share, but with a common goal of a better future for their peers.

The challenge to employers is recognizing the immense potential of this diversity and reassessing their “one size fits all” assumptions to occupational health and safety programs for new employees.

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Some of the 42 delegates from around the world who attended the first International Youth Congress. From: http://www.jwsl.de/

My interactions with this group of committed students left me reassured that the solutions to tomorrow’s problems lay within today’s youth. Giving them a forum to share their experiences with other youth from all parts of the world will be the catalyst for innovative change in the future. That is why I was pleased to hear commitment to hold a second International Youth Congress from all those involved.

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Big challenges for small organizations

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Steve Horvath and CCOHS management visit with delegates from KOSHA.

To me, CCOHS’ value is reaffirmed when other national health and safety organizations access our information and recognize that our expertise on prevention issues can make a positive impact on their own challenges.

That happened last week when delegates from the Korean Occupational Health and Safety Administration (KOSHA) visited CCOHS to learn about Canada’s perspective on health and safety program access for small to medium-sized enterprises (SME). Their concern arises from the fact that 80% of lost-time accidents in Korea occur in small organizations, and wanted more insights as to how CCOHS has improved accessibility by SMEs through its online and social media strategies that involve plain language programs targeted at small organizations in Canada.

Our meeting was extremely fruitful and they left with practical solutions that involve many of our online solutions. We also toured a successful small organization that has implemented progressive health and safety policies. By doing so, the KOSHA delegates were able to see first-hand the results of these strategies, and to talk directly to company management and staff about their successes and challenges.

Thanks to Larry Masotti at Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) for coordinating the site visit to Brabender Technologie.

Our initiatives for SMEs have received significant interest from jurisdictions throughout Canada, and now from international organizations because I believe we share similar challenges with awareness and accessibility to SMEs and a similar desire and focus to improve in that respect.

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Leading the Way for Leaders of Tomorrow

We have seen a decline in workplace injury rates among 15 – 19 years old across Canada, which I believe is due, in part, to efforts to incorporate young worker awareness and education programs into the regular education curriculum.

The last few weeks have underscored some of our efforts in developing our youth to be future leaders in health and safety. First, on behalf of our Council of Governors, CCOHS has awarded its 12th annual Dick Martin Scholarship, a national award to recognize students enrolled in a Canadian occupational health and safety degree or diploma program, and to encourage their pursuit of a career in workplace health and safety. Congratulations to this year’s deserving winners: Jodie Chadbourn (Ontario) and Kathy Lee (Saskatchewan), who each received $3000. Their academic institutions, the University of New Brunswick and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, also each received $500.

Top: Dick Martin Scholarship Award winner Jodie Chadbourn with CCOHS President Steve Horvath and members of the CCOHS Council of Governors.  Bottom: Kathy Lee accepts the Dick Martin Scholarship award from Philip Germain of the CCOHS Council of Governors and the Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.

Top: Dick Martin Scholarship Award winner Jodie Chadbourn with CCOHS President Steve Horvath and members of the CCOHS Council of Governors.
Bottom: Kathy Lee accepts the Dick Martin Scholarship award from Philip Germain of the CCOHS Council of Governors and the Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. Credit: SIAST

In addition, CCOHS continues to support the annual “It’s Your Job” youth video contest. All Canadian secondary school students begin their competition through provincial and territorial contests administered by their respective ministries and departments of labour. They are challenged to use their creativity to develop an original video that can be used in social media to communicate with their peers about working safely on the job. The winners in each jurisdiction then compete at a national level contest.

Congratulations to this year’s national winners:
• First place: Ben Croskery, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa, ON
• Second place: Pranay Noel, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Secondary School, Mississauga, ON
• Third place: Dane Cutliffe, Colonel Gray High School, PEI
• Fan Favourite: Dylan Pappenfoot, Logan Seipp and Dylan Stadnyk, Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Humboldt, SK

On Call from Ben Croskery on Vimeo.

As well, I am co-chair of the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work‘s symposium on “Creating a Safe and Healthy Learning and Working Environment” which integrates workplace, community and education groups toward our common goal of developing a young worker safety culture. In that role I also have the privilege of welcoming the delegates from the International Youth Congress – attending from around the world – to the 2014 World Congress next month in Frankfurt, Germany.

Here at CCOHS, in the past couple of decades, we have focused on programs to empower youth in creating a new generation of workplaces that embrace a culture of prevention. But success cannot be achieved in isolation, so our continued efforts to promote and coordinate a holistic approach to young worker safety will integrate with the efforts of workplace, community and education institutions. Together, we head toward the common goal of creating a culture of prevention in all workplaces.

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Advancing Health and Safety in the Philippines

Steve Horvath with Porfirio Mayo, First Secretary and Consul of the Philippine Embassy in Canada.

Steve Horvath with Porfirio Mayo, First Secretary and Consul of the Philippine Embassy in Canada.

It was my privilege to be invited this past week by Porfirio Mayo, First Secretary and Consul to Canada at the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, for the celebration of the 116th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines.

It was not only a wonderful occasion to appreciate the culture of its people, but also an opportunity to discuss with Mr. Mayo ‎the expanding relationship between the Philippines’ Health and Safety Agency and CCOHS. Our products can play an active role in the advancement of prevention programs throughout Southeast Asia. We discussed our future potential and intention to formalize the relationship between our organizations, not only through CCOHS’s products, but also through the promotion of health and safety in the Republic through our affiliations with international agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Also present was the Korean Ambassador to Canada, and we had a pleasant chat about the long-standing relationship between the Korean Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) and CCOHS. Korea will ‎be hosting the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) World Congress in 2015.

Congratulations to the Philippines on their milestone, and we look forward to further collaborations.

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CCOHS Discusses Leadership with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore

I applaud the commitment by the most senior government officials in Singapore for showing leadership and enabling a whole nation to achieve a common goal of eliminating injury and illness in the workplace through political engagement. It not only provides a lot of momentum, but also confidence to health and safety practitioners when progressive policies are promoted by all levels of government and supported by labour and industry.

Government, labour and employers were present at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2014 to promote and understand the challenges and were committed to make this happen.

I am impressed by the broad level of commitment demonstrated by world-class health and safety organizations like the Workplace Health and Safety Institute (WHSI) and the Workplace Safety and Health Council. Their support comes from clear and consistent leadership from the highest levels of the national government. During various times of the ASEAN-OSHNET meetings and the conference, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Senior Minister of State and Minister of Health and Manpower, and the Senior Parliamentary Secretary and Minister of Education and Manpower delivered addresses, while other senior Ministry officials were also in attendance. It is refreshing to see all of them speak of a singular vision for a Singapore without workplace injuries and illnesses and their support for the country’s “Vision Zero” action plan for achieving their goals.

In his opening remarks, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, acknowledged the challenge ahead but reaffirmed the government’s resolve in achieving the OSH goals of the nation. He spoke of the need to integrate worker health issues with workplace safety, and for industry to take a holistic approach to OSH if they were going to eliminate injuries and illnesses in Singaporean workplaces – a problem that is costing the country 3.2% of their GDP. Consequently, OSH prevention strategies are recognized as part of the overall growth strategy for the region. A trade deal to be completed within the year with all the other ASEAN countries will include common standards on health and safety that are based on global best practices.

Other Ministers reiterated the key concept of adopting a holistic approach to protecting the safety, health and well-being of employees. Hawazi Daipi, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education noted that with Singapore’s aging population and increasing life expectancy, all organizations have to put in place holistic intervention programs to ensure health and safety and a sustainable workforce.

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With CCOHS recognized as a global leader whose expertise, infrastructure and capacities are viewed as true strengths, I was there to present evidence and data supporting the integration of health and safety with the business processes of an organization. It is always encouraging to see the enthusiasm that other countries show in learning about CCOHS’ experiences and approach to prevention programs. It is a competitiveness issue for organizations. For a robust management system to exist, you have to consider OSH as part of the normal decision-making process with all employees. If it is seen as a separate program, it will not result in a cultural shift in the workplace because it will not become part of the normal decision-making process of the organization and will be perceived by management as part of the problem instead of part of the solution. What is necessary is worker engagement through leading by example, communication, coaching and management commitment.

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