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Leadership has always been an essential catalyst for workplace safety. Never has that been more true than during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Suddenly, routine workplace activities and interactions require stringent safety protocols in order to reduce risk. The measures put in place to prevent virus spread help keep us safe, but also make us feel isolated and vulnerable. Much is known, but there’s still lots we don’t know, including when or if things will get back to normal.
“It’s at a time like this that we need safety leaders the most,” says Stuart MacLean, CEO WCB Nova Scotia.
Safety leaders play a significant role in safety performance: during the current pandemic, throughout Safety and Health Week, and all year long.
“It takes more than rules to make workplaces safe,” says Stuart. “Safety leaders set standards and values. They connect, motivate, and inspire others to work safely. They’re visible on the front line, leading by example and working proactively to reduce risk. And they only do something if they can do it safely.”
The Nova Scotia Health and Safety Leadership Charter is one way that senior leaders are demonstrating their commitment to safety.
With more than a hundred members representing more than 80,000 workers, the Charter commits CEOs to the continuous growth of a positive workplace safety culture. The Charter is based on the principle that effective management of health, safety, and wellness is essential to the operation of a successful business, and a more prosperous province.
Many safety professionals have job titles like ‘Safety Manager’. And they do important work, making sure their organizations have the programs, tools and training needed to work safely.
But you don’t need to have a title to be a leader. A safety leader can be anyone who has a positive influence on safety, is focused on prevention, and actively works to drive improvement.
In organizations with more than 20 employees, the Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee provides safety leadership, by making sure policies and practices are in place that reduce risk and support a safety culture. The JOHS committee facilitates communication about safety between workers and employers, and collaborates to develop safety solutions.
Regardless of where you work, or how big or small your business, Safety and Health Week provides an important opportunity for everyone to be a safety leader. This week, take time to pause and reflect on safety, and to reinforce the principles and practices that make your workplace safe.
Here are a few ideas for activities that you can lead during Safety and Health Week in your workplace: