“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.
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.
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.
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. 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
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.
January 16, 2014 marked the first anniversary of the launch of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard). A media event was held in Toronto to recognize the progress to date and to encourage continued adoption of the Standard by workplaces across Canada. I was pleased to see Minister Leitch champion mental health by kicking off the event with a personal discussion of the need to remove the stigma and how adoption of the Standard can help in doing that.
At the ceremony I was heartened to see CCOHS featured in one of the videos showcasing organizations that are currently adopting the Standard. CCOHS has been promoting the holistic approach to workplace health and safety for many years, so we were greatly appreciative of having our own internal efforts to “practice what we preach” recognized on a national platform. In the video, Emma Nicolson, the lead of CCOHS’ Mental Health @ Work team, discussed how we have used the new Standard as a framework for implementing our own mental health strategy at our workplace.
I also had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion that was organized by the Mental Health Commission of Canada that included a number of key stakeholders and organizations promoting mental health. It was a dynamic discussion about enabling and encouraging workplaces to adopt the new Standard, and the various roles our organizations could play towards achieving that goal. I was pleased with the consensus that was established and the willingness to collaborate.
Aside from the snow on the ground, the other indicator to me that the holiday season is upon us is this annual occasion to share with everyone my reflections of CCOHS’ past year and to look ahead to the coming year.
I was extremely pleased to be invited last week to speak at the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce – a large group of business leaders representing the Indian business and professional community here in Canada. The attendees, with a strong representation from small to medium-sized enterprises, demonstrated a concern for the well-being of their employees and were interested in the message of “promoting an injury-free workplace culture”.
Nurturing prevention into the workplace culture of an organization has become imperative in today’s competitive business environment, particularly as we come out of the global economic downturn, and as organizations struggle with changing societal expectations, demographic and cultural shifts, and the rise of work-life issues. This is the catalyst for leaders to create an engaged workforce committed to the success of their organization by understanding that health and safety must be an integral part of any business strategy and prevention is a fundamental component of economic growth. Prevention strategies must be recognized as necessary to business planning or they risk being marginalized and perceived as part of the problem instead of the solution in creating a robust and engaged workforce.
This evening was especially valuable for me during the networking session beforehand and the dialogue that occurred after my presentation. It was an opportunity for me to draw on my business experience as well as CCOHS knowledge to discuss with individual business leaders about their specific challenges with changing their workplace culture and to share experiences with organizational issues. It is also always critical for me to connect directly with our stakeholders and listen to their priorities so that we, as CCOHS, can become more effective in providing value and solutions to them towards the goal of eliminating injuries and illness in the workplace.
Kudos to our Communications team for organizing a very successful “Showcase” event the past week that provided an opportunity for our various project and product development teams to showcase to all CCOHS staff, in an informal setting, their plans and achievements to date. More importantly, it was an opportunity for direct and open dialogue between the staff and project team members about the goals, scope and direction of many of our initiatives. Booths were set up by each team with “5 key points” cards at available at each station and the Healthy Workplace team provided nutritious snacks and healthy eating tips for everyone.
All the project team members and I were impressed with the insightful questions that were being asked and the positive nature of the discussions that were taking place. All parties walked away with new ideas and knowledge. I think this is truly a reflection of the compassion and pride our staff has in our own organization.
I am hopeful that this inaugural event, coupled with the general staff meeting, held earlier that week, where we discussed organization-wide, strategic planning and direction, will provide clarity for all staff about the role of CCOHS in the present and future.
Thank you again to all involved in making our first Showcase event such a success.
Minister Leitch serving it up with CCOHS Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Emma Nicolson at the staff barbecue event.
The Honourable Kellie Leitch visited CCOHS in Hamilton this past Friday afternoon, taking the opportunity to tour our facility and to learn about the work we do at the centre. From offering to serve refreshments during our annual Hot Dog Day barbecue event to holding free-flowing conversations with individual staff, Minister Leitch was gracious, approachable and open throughout. The visit was informal, yet informative. Her candour and support of CCOHS were greatly appreciated by staff.
I must say that in my tenure with CCOHS so far, our organization has had the good fortune to report to two exceptional people, first Minister Raitt and now Minister Leitch. Both have been very supportive of us, generous with their time, and have championed occupational injury and illness prevention – and for that we are grateful.