2019 Ben Hume Award recipient, Chris Inkster

2019 Ben Hume Leadership Award recipient: Q & A with Chris Inkster

At the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala each year, the Ben Hume Award recognizes a BC Safety Charter member who demonstrates exemplary leadership in building and maintaining the culture of safety in their organization.

This year’s award went to Chris Inkster, president of Freeport Industries in West Kelowna. We talked with Chris to learn about the progression of safety at his company.

Q What is your personal philosophy on safety?
A In business, there are lots of obstacles. The last thing you need to worry about is whether someone on your team gets to go home to their family at the end of the day. We’re competitive in nature when it comes to business, but we cannot be competitive when it comes to safety.

Q How did you come to approach safety with such an open perspective?
A We had a major injury in 2015, and we had to be open with our crews because if we weren’t, we risked losing everything. We risked losing credibility with the person who got injured and his family, so we had to lay it all on the table—and that means getting in front of the person who was injured, getting in front of their mom.

Q How did you first get involved with the Alliance?
A We started the safety journey in 2014, and we aligned ourselves with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance. We really felt comfortable with the Alliance because of the robustness of their safety and audit programs.

Q Where do you see your company going in terms of safety in the future?
A We have to keep it up. We have to make sure our commitment is unwavering, and good things will happen as a result. We have to believe that all accidents are preventable, and we have to do everything we can to make sure the people who work at Freeport go home to their families at the end of the day. My goal is to use clear and honest communication to have the safest company in our industry. The ultimate goal is to have BC be the safest place in Canada to work, and I want to be a part of that.

Watch the Ben Hume Award video interviews: safetyalliancebc.ca/2019-ben-hume-finalists

ABOUT FREEPORT INDUSTRIES Freeport is a custom manufacturer of modular structures for industrial, residential, and institutional use that employs 80–90 people. Freeport was part of the first safety pooling system (SPS) group, and under Inkster’s leadership, successfully challenged the OSSE audit after only 14 months.