A Thanksgiving Wish for Greater Employee Wellness and Engagement in EHS

Workers need to do their part and workplace safety needs to be “owned” by every employee.

We want to send out a big “thank you” on this Canadian Thanksgiving Day to EHS professionals who champion the cause of worker wellness and workplace safety. Every worker who returns home safely at the end of a shift likely have an EHS professional to thank for proper training, regulatory compliance, employee engagement, safety protocols and maintaining a safe workplace.

It’s a tough job, but most safety specialists embrace the challenge. According to the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals – which sets certification standards for safety professionals in that country – 91.6 percent of them report being “satisfied or very satisfied” with their career. They are a passionate and committed group.

What Matters to Safety Professionals?

Recent Intelex research in North America reveals 57 percent of survey respondents say they consider improving the safety of their workforce one of the top three most important priorities for their organizations. But 90 percent report their organizations have experienced at least one EHS-related incident in the last 12 months. These included property damage, environmental releases, vehicle incidents, worker injuries or illnesses, fires and near misses.

Unfortunately, according to the researchers: “Having prior experience of the same incident doesn’t appear to make a difference for North American respondents in terms of preventing incidents, with many organizations experiencing the same health and safety incident more than once. Despite the priority of improving workforce safety and reducing worker injury, illness or accident are the most likely incidents to have happened more than once, and considerably more so compared to Europe. This perhaps suggests these are the health and safety incidents most need help with preventing and that organizations are struggling to tackle this problem.”

An important aspect of the job for today’s health and safety professionals is not only keeping workers healthy and safe, but seamlessly safeguarding the business and helping to keep it profitable, and EHS incidents can and do impact business profitability and brand reputation. Reducing or even eliminating these incidents is of paramount importance. What EHS professionals need – and are grateful for – is engaged employees who care about each other and understand the value that safe work brings to them and the business.

EHS Management Is a Team Effort

When it comes to reducing workplace incidents, safety professionals can’t do it alone. The greatest error the C-level makes when trying to build an effective safety culture is leaving everything in the hands of health and safety professionals, says Intelex Vice President and Global Practice Leader for Safety and Health Scott Gaddis. He reasons that if you want to limit loss and drive performance, the entire workforce needs to be involved.

Neil Bedwell, a council member of Forbes magazine who heads up a consultancy called Local Industries that focuses on culture, agrees with Gaddis. Employees represent the most important safety stakeholders in any workplace initiative, according to Bedwell. In the context of health and safety, protocols may be created by a small group of senior people, but it is the employees on the floor who bring these principles to life day-by-day and minute-by-minute.

“Occupational health and safety, like anything, needs to be imbedded into culture and culture is created by the employees,” Bedwell says. “Health and safety are a cultural pillar inside every company. Make it a safe place to work and everybody feels well looked after and cared for. They work harder, stay longer and the company grows.”

Workers need to do their part and workplace safety must be “owned” by every employee. They can help EHS professionals maintain safe workplaces by:

  • Participating and taking an active role in safety and health training, committees and special project teams.
  • Studying and understanding safety procedures and following rules that are intended to keep them safe.
  • Reporting near misses, safety concerns and hazards.
  • Bringing safety and health knowledge to the organization and sharing ideas to make the workplace safer.
  • Participating on safety and health inspection teams to ensure frontline expertise is captured.
  • Working with other team members to establish and maintain an interdependent culture.
  • Being a safety ambassador and mentoring and coaching those with less experience or outliers to the safety system.

So, as we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to acknowledge how grateful we are for EHS professionals and thank you for your dedication to saving lives and protecting not only workers and the environment, but the business as well.      

This entry was posted in EHSQ and tagged , by Dan McLean. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dan McLean

Dan McLean is a senior content marketing manager for Intelex Technologies in Toronto, specializing in environment, health and safety (EHS) topics. He has been a journalist, market researcher, executive communications specialist and content marketer over his 30-plus year career in information technology.

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