Excellence in Health & Safety Finalist
February 12, 2021

CRS Excellence in Health and Safety Award Submission
The only time that you should look back is to see how far you’ve come.

On January 28, 2020, Denis Sunderland, PN Co-op Asset Protection Manager, received a much-anticipated letter of “WorkSafe Priority Employer Program Closure”. That letter spoke to exactly how far we’ve come.

“Statistical information from our first assessment to our second shows the improvement and has led to the development of more safety processes”, Denis explains. “We went from no formal plans to the processes in place today like safe job procedures, hazard assessments, incident reports, regular inspections and training programs in areas such as orientation, forklift, FIT testing, and OHC committee training. Our renewed commitment to safety has resulted in a culture shift at all levels of the organization and the messaging around safety is clear and consistent: everyone in the organization is responsible for safety”.

In some workplaces health and safety excellence may be measured based on a reduction in incidents or time loss injuries, our measure is also based on what our people are saying. The Employee Pulse Survey (June 2020) revealed that 81% felt that they were receiving support from their team; 76% felt that their Co-op was looking after the wellbeing of its employees; 78% felt that their Co-op was responding appropriately; and 82% felt that they had the information and resources to do their job well. One survey respondent provided this comment, “I believe that many of the measures put in place, such as plexiglass shields, hand sanitizer, etc will become more of the norm. This will provide comfort to staff in their roles and contact with the public and will also give the member/consumer the comfort level they are looking for in a shopping experience. I believe we are in a much better position to ramp up if necessary and have developed good practices”.

Similar “confidence” scores were witnessed in the Employee Engagement Survey (September 2020). 84% felt workplace safety was considered important (up from 78% in the last survey); 78% felt that they had the training to deal with safety issues (up from 76%); 78% felt that their Co-op addressed safety issues quickly and effectively (up from 69%); and 77% felt that they could report a concern without fear of retribution (up from 64%).

How did we get there . . . in the late Fall of 2019 a Health and Safety Coordinator was hired to take our safety program from meeting the legislative requirement to excellence. This has led to:
• an annual review of safe job procedures by all employees
• pre-use inspections for light vehicles
• Safety Moments prior to all meetings
• regular tool box meetings
• the encouraging all OHC members to obtain Level 1 and 2 OHC training
• monthly inspections including first aid, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting– all locations
• implementation of an Exposure Control Plan for COVID-19
• implementation of a modified Return to Work Program on a case-by-case basis
• inclusion of a health and safety component in the New Hire Orientation
• a decrease of 13% in the WCB Weighted Loss Ratio
• a reduction of 55.5% in the WCB Lost Time Injuries
What does excellence look like today . . . excellence is the Agro Division manager authorizing the training and development of an Emergency Response Team equipped with an Emergency Response Trailer capable of responding to anhydrous ammonia releases. Says Larry Kohl, "this is just another example of how we are an industry leader. We are committed to investing in this type of cutting-edge training for our people and when our investment gives us the ability to provide another service to our Ag communities and potentially save a life, well that is a win-win". Excellence is our Melfort Food Store Manager being able to respond to a Public Health Inspector inquiry regarding capacity on December 31st. “I told him that our Health and Safety Coordinator had preformed our allowable capacity calculation prior to the Order coming into effect. I also advised him of our extra sanitizing, one-way arrows, mask enforcement, sanitization schedules, schedule for intercom announcements reminding customers of our protocols, and that I had personally conducted head counts during our busy times and had recorded those. He was very pleased”, says Whitney Rogers. And excellence is our customers and members thanking us publicly on our social media channels for our diligence.