2017 Mission: Zero Awards – Medium Employer Category

2017 Mission: Zero Awards – Medium Employer Category

The Mission: Zero Awards were created to highlight businesses that succeed in keeping their employees both safe and healthy in and out of work. These awards are given to businesses and organizations that go above and beyond the accepted standards of employee training, wellness initiatives and workplace safety. Awards are given out to three separate categories: small businesses, medium businesses, and large businesses. Through recognizing innovations and diminishing rates of accidents or incidents in various businesses the Mission: Zero Awards inspire other businesses to make safety the top priority.


First Place: Saskatchewan Opportunities

Set aside seven minutes at the start of each work day to stretch. That’s the approach of the employees at Saskatchewan Opportunities Corp­oration, and Van Isman is all in favour of it.

The President and CEO feels that taking just a few minutes each day to loosen your muscles and joints could go a long way in preventing workplace injuries. And seeing as how the company hasn’t experienced a single time-lost injury in five years, the routine seems to be working.

A leading member of his grounds­keeping team leads staff in a brief stretch at the beginning of each day. “I want everyone treated the same way one of my family members would be treated,” Isman said. “I want them to be treated in a way where there’s not an opportunity for them to be injured. There are a lot of things that can happen to a person and you want to make sure everyone is taking the right steps to prevent those things from happening.”

“Safety is our most important priority. It’s very consistent with the commitment made when signed the Health and Safety Leadership Charter.”

Isman believes the development a safety culture involves engagement and communication from all staff. Health and safety policies and procedures have been created and it is part of an employee’s job to make sure they’re clear with the rights and responsibilities. There are at least six policies that employees must review annually and then sign a document that shows they have reviewed those policies.

Safety is taken very seriously at Saskatchewan Opportunities Corp. Approximately 90 per cent of its supervisors have attended OHS training, with the remaining few planning to attend this summer. As well, two department heads have been trained in mental health first aid. All staff attend regular safety meetings, and a recent employee survey revealed that 95 per cent of staff feel that health and safety is very important at the workplace.

“It’s not like we have thousands of employees working here, but we do have a sizable group. And to not have anyone miss work because of an injury is a good thing,” Isman said. “And it’s good business, too. It impacts our WCB premiums. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s good for business as well.”


Second Place: Discovery Co-op

All it took was one injury to an employee while on the job for things to change at Discovery Co-Operative Limited in North Battleford.

“We believe safety is the number one thing we think about here,” said Mike Nord, general manager at DCL. “That wasn’t always the case – it may have been the eighth or ninth thing we thought about until somebody got hurt. And then that changed our approach. We wanted to and needed to change that culture.”

Nord and DCL signed the Health & Safety Leadership Charter and he and his staff have adopted safety as a primary focus. That initiative is in the open for everyone to see. Staff at FCL follow four basics guidelines – safety, courtesy, service and efficiency. Reminders are posted in every department. They’re currently in the process of developing an internal health and safety charter, one that each employee will need to sign.

“It’s a process and I don’t know if we’re all the way there yet,” Nord said. “Developing a culture means you have to constantly be prioritizing it. We are doing that and we know it takes work. Our goal is Mission: Zero and we’re not there yet.”

Working their way to the desired goal takes time, and Nord feels they’re on the right path. Employees are proud to partake in behavioural safety exercises where they observe coworkers performing tasks and identify actions that are done properly and safely, highlight potential risks and offer positive reinforcement for a job well done.

Nord said these exercises help to create an awareness and allows staff to openly talk about on-the-job hazards.
Has it helped? Indeed, it has. The proof is in the statistics. Nord takes the number of employees that have lost time due to injury and divides it by the number of employees. That final tally has been reduced by about half over the past few years. It’s an impressive feat when you consider DCL’s staff base has almost doubled in size the past few years.

In addition, DCL’s premiums with the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensa­tion Board have dropped by almost six figures over that same time span. Nord also noted that all new employees’ orientation focuses heavily on the company’s dedication to safety. Included in that course is emphasis on practising safe behaviours at work and at home.

“But of course, we feel it starts with our strong leadership group,” Nord said. “Staff need to see us being safe and acting safe and walking the walk. That’s really where it starts.”

Discovery Co-operative Limited is a diverse operation. It houses four divisions of service in North Battleford and surrounding communities, including grocery and pharmacy, convenience store and gas bar and a home hardware centre. The agro division is a farm supply centre that deals in seeding and various pesticides and chemicals.


Third Place: Cenovus Energy

At Cenovus Energy, education is the key when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of its employees.

In working with oil drills and pumps on a daily basis, there are plenty of opportunities for injuries to employees at work sites. That’s why Cenovus makes sure proper training and educational tools are available to everyone on staff.

“Nobody comes to work looking to get hurt or wanting to see any of their coworkers getting hurt,” said Darcy Cretin, the Superintendent for Cenovus Saskatchewan.

“Having a good health and safety program is good for business. You can spend more time being productive as a business as opposed to investigating incidents and dealing with injuries. And that transcends through our community.”

Cenovus’ approach to health and safety has seen continuous improvement. Accidents and human error do happen occasionally at any job site, and Cenovus uses these rare moments to teach and to improve and to help develop a safety culture within the company.

Support from all levels within the organization certainly helps grow that culture.

“Cenovus is a fairly big company and we get that support for working safely and doing the right things all the way from our executive and throughout the organization,” Cretin explained.

“It’s easy to say you want to work safely, but if your actions don’t support those words then people are going to see through that pretty quickly. That leadership support is very crucial to having people believe in it.”

Over time, executive leaders, managers and frontline staff have grown smarter in how they work and how they recognize potential risks and how they manage those risks. Staff have embraced that safety culture and have led through their action to show new employees just how serious health and safety is at Cenovus.

“A lot of our focus has been around training and education, not only with our employees but with spouses and kids and immediate family members,” Cretin said. “Being able to reach out and do that is important to us.”

December 14, 2017 | Originally posted in SaskBusiness