Health and Safety
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Creating a successful health and safety culture for employee wellbeing and strong risk management

By John May


Employee wellbeing fosters a happy and productive workforce. Consequently, occupational health and safety (OHS) is a strategic imperative that demonstrates sound risk management while protecting a company’s most valued resource: its people. This is why it’s not only the right thing, but simply good business to make employee wellbeing a key organizational goal. Moreover, the best way to realize this goal is to embed it into company culture.

Success does not come overnight or by accident; there are several important leadership and organizational behaviours that meaningfully contribute to successfully building and maintaining a health and safety-focused culture. Here are a few top tips.


Senior leader alignment

Creating and maintaining a successful health and safety culture requires commitment from every level within an organization, beginning at the top. Management must demonstrate to all employees that health and safety culture is a high-priority. This includes communicating the importance of occupational health and safety and how this supports the company and each individual, and clearly outlining accountabilities and collective action items related to advancing this organizational goal. For example, the CEO reviews and signs off on the Corporate OHS policy, senior management review OHS-related occurrences on a monthly basis and senior management act as champions of the OHS program by participating in drills, training and weekly walk throughs
with staff.


Shared accountability 

While leading by example is essential, it’s equally important to ensure everyone has a role in maintaining health and safety. This includes engaging employees to provide feedback on existing processes to suggest opportunities for improvement. Additionally, creating clear lines of responsibility helps to reinforce accountability while also enabling a greater level of control and customization of health and safety initiatives per stakeholder. For instance, employees of Morguard must report all incidents as soon as they occur, and as the company continues to communicate employee responsibilities with regards to reporting, Morguard has seen a marked improvement in incident reporting over time. 


Continuous improvement

An environment of continuous improvement helps to keep health and safety goals top of mind and provides a consistent set of goals for employees to strive toward. In addition to creating a robust response plan in the event of an emergency, constantly seek ways to enhance these plans, working in partnership with team members. 



Employee engagement in an occupational health and safety driven culture is fostered by collaboration. Encourage employees and tenants to participate actively in OHS initiatives through inclusive program planning, implementation and measurement. Additionally, work together to identify potential hazards and collaborate on solutions and risk mitigation for those hazards. 



It’s important to arm employees with the tools and resources they need to do their part in driving occupational health and safety. Invest in educational programs and policies that ensure high standards are being met across the organization. Keep employee training ongoing to ensure knowledge stays current and top-of-mind, as well as account for updates and improvements to systems and processes currently in place. Online resources and training tools should be available to all employees and managers to support ongoing education around occupational health and safety.


Ongoing communication

Communication is key to maintaining all of the above components. Maintain ongoing communication across the entire organization, from the CEO down, about the importance of health and safety, shared accountabilities and progress towards goals. Additionally, monitor employee completion of core training programs and communicate closely with all staff to make sure educational requirements are completed and that employees are aware of – and doing – everything they can to mitigate any risk.

The goal of a successful health and safety culture is a work environment where everyone looks out for their fellow employees and feels motivated to actively participate in maintaining, enhancing and designing processes that keep themselves, and each other, safe. The guidelines above provide a meaningful path to achieving this.

John May is director, Risk Management and Insurance at Morguard.




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