OHS Canada Feature | Inspiring World Class Health, Safety, and Performance
Leaders play a key role in creating both physically and psychologically safe workplaces. As leaders, we have the duty to guide our organizations to long-term success and to care for our essential resources and investments—time, money, and most valuably, people. To do that successfully, our vision needs to recognize how the health, safety, and well-being of our teams integrates into overall performance.
The most effective leaders recognize the critical role of a healthy safety culture in business success. Fostering a shared vision and culture of safety is both our moral and our pragmatic responsibility as leaders to ensure the sustainable success of our businesses.
In a recent interview with Michelle Lofting, a health and safety leader at Factors Group of Nutritional Companies and the 2023 Safety Excellence Awards recipient of the Apex Award for safety advocacy, she reinforced this critical message: “Safety culture is important,” she noted. “It drives change within the organization. And it’s the right thing to do when it comes down to safety.”
People make businesses successful. They are the most important resource we have. So, ensuring that they have a safe and respectful environment in which to work is not only the way forward, but the only way to build thriving and sustainable organizations into the future.
To support ongoing success, we need to ensure that our people are equipped and empowered to make decisions daily that align with our vision and values. Great leaders take responsibility for health and safety throughout the organization. To set a tone of accountability right from the top, one where everyone takes ownership, we, too, need to hold ourselves to the same standard, walking the walk that we ask of our teams. By our investments of time and resources, and unflagging engagement of our teams’ participation in safe behaviours that strengthen our safety culture, we can change people’s attitudes and motivations.
“With the right vision, we set standards about creating the right environment where people feel comfortable speaking up when something isn’t right with no consequences,” notes Puratos Canada President Michael Simone, a 2023 finalist for the Soaring Eagle Leadership Award. “A feedback culture is key to safety,” he adds.
When people feel heard and have the tools to evaluate their own health and safety actions, our programs become more effective. One way we can build this level of buy-in is to commit to a path towards certification. Health and safety management programs that meet an occupational safety standard of excellence certification have consistently shown to produce superior performance results. Certification offers a roadmap for teams to use to reinforce successful health and safety processes and identify those that need improvement. It helps companies set measurable goals and benchmarks, and to work together to build safer workplaces where everyone can thrive.
Excellent leaders recognize that a strong safety culture reflects a healthy workplace culture, one that celebrates successes and recognizes the growth and contributions of individual team members. And the sustainability of our success requires us to remain vigilant in the face of change.
“You cannot rest on the wreath of glory, even for one second,” comments 2023 Soaring Eagle Award recipient Amit Golan, Vice President at CKF Inc. “Even if you’ve done something half decent, you need to always look at the present and the future,” Golan adds. “You must live and breathe safety at all times, every day.”
That level of humility, vigilance, and dedication to continuous improvement characterizes the most successful leaders.
With emerging technology, strategies, research, and risks; leaders also need to stay current on challenges, opportunities, and trends with the potential to impact our organizations—locally, nationally, and around the world.
At global events such as the World Congress on Health and Safety or closer to home at Canadian events such as our upcoming Make It Safe Conference, online this fall, leaders can build connections and knowledge to stay informed and walk away with crucial tools in defeating complacency. Events like these offer unique opportunities for business owners and executives to explore, connect, and discuss current and emerging key issues, developments, and strategies—because health, safety, and performance are intricately connected.
The steps we take to recognize this connection, and the levers we can control to support it, are the keys to building healthy, accessible, inclusive, and respectful workplaces, and thriving industries.
Written by: Lisa McGuire