OHS from the HR Manager’s Perspective

by Gladys Johnsen – Located in Vernon and employing over 150 staff, KingFisher Boats designs and builds high-quality heavy-gauge, welded sport fishing boats. Sarah Gregory came to KingFisher in 2014 as Human Resources Manager, with responsibility for the company’s health and safety program assigned afterwards. Initially, Sarah enhanced her academic and manufacturing knowledge by enrolling in health and safety-related courses at Okanagan College, WorkSafeBC, and the Alliance.

Overall, Sarah sees a good fit between health and safety and many of the core roles of human resources, such as performance management, return-to-work programs, wellness, harassment and bullying issues and job design. Health and safety can be included in the early stages of designing training and onboarding programs, along with a better understanding of what to include in a return-to-work plan.

Sarah acknowledges the risk of a perception of conflict of interest by employees who believe that coming forward to report risky behaviours or near misses could impact their employment file. However, as the injury rate fell and employees witnessed improvements in their work environment, confidence developed that reporting would be interpreted positively.

Moreover, Sarah regularly engages shop floor workers regarding safe work procedures and the company’s joint health and safety committee to ensure that policies remain relevant. The knowledge gained has increased her ability to design new or updated job descriptions and has improved Sarah’s interview and hiring skills.

This joint role is a good one for KingFisher, as I sit at the Senior Management table I am able to advocate for the health and safety program and have influence on the allocation of resources.

Sarah is now working with the Alliance to complete the OSSE certification program and interprets this as another step forward in the plan for continuous improvement of the OHS program.

KingFisher will be hiring a new human resource administrator to work together with Sarah on requirements for documentation and maintenance of both the health and safety and human resource programs. “All-in-all,” says Sarah, “each of these two roles has a positive impact on the other and reduces overlapping administrative tasks.”