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Reflections from the Benson Steel Safety Symposium

Articles, news stories, and reviews about safety have a tendency to focus on shortfalls, deficiencies, and violations. While it’s important these matters are scrutinized and shared publicly, examples of safety done right are just as valuable.

“Feed the good dog” is a phrase I learned in teachers college that has really stuck with me. It means that you should reward the desired behaviour on a holistic and specific scale. I am always looking for creative and bold new ways with which organizations can open channels of communication and address safety with their employees and within their industry. Today, I want to share an example of safety done right–a case of a proactive company “feeding the good dog”.

Changing behaviour isn’t easy. Making the time to brainstorm, motivate, and share ways to improve safety in the workplace within your industry isn’t easy to coordinate either. But when you do, great things happen. Benson Steel held their annual Safety Symposium in June 2016 where Steve Benson invites peers from the construction & manufacturing industry – some suppliers, some clients, and even some competitors – to meet and discuss industry commitments and methods for managing risk.

Selected speakers shared examples of commitment to safety at PCL, Ball Construction, and Walsh Construction, job sites where the only acceptable number of incidents is zero! The audience is invited to participate in the discussion and share their own experiences and suggestions as well. Safety isn’t proprietary at these meetings and the audience is pressed to share their experiences without judgment.

We also learned more about the OGCA’s commitment to the League of Champions (LOC) program. This is exciting because Benson Steel is the first non-OGCA company to join this important movement. The LOC is a collaboration of safety leaders who have pledged their commitment to safety and to help raise awareness alongside Rob Ellis of MySafeWork, a long-time ambassador for safety awareness for workers. The message of Benson Steel’s annual safety meeting and the LOC is clear:

• We should all lead by example
• To mirror safe practices at home and at work
• Positive interventions should come before discipline
• We all need to slow down
• A proactive safety program is good for business
• It is impossible to over-train or over-communicate safety with your staff
• Employers in all industries need to encourage their entire workforce and especially new workers to share concerns and discuss safe work procedures frankly from day one.

This year’s Safety Symposium was engaging and re-energizing. When we are challenged to think about how to effectively improve safety around us, we are forced to think and work together. Benson Steel has set an important example of what management commitment to safety looks like. While Benson Steel deserves praise for having a strong system in place for safety communication and continuous improvement, for most companies, a commitment to safety from the top should be more than just an annual event.

I happen to know there are a large number of companies from all industries that are in need of new ideas for improving safety communication around them. Frankly, some companies require a complete safety culture reboot. I hope that by sharing this example, I can help you reflect and think about how you are improving safety around you, both personally and professionally. Think about how your workplace engages or should engage your staff, partners, and peers to put safety first, and share positive examples with your peers.

I look forward to the next invite!

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