Thinking Forward – Thinking Safety: Building a World Class Safety Program

December 12, 2020 Bren de LeeuwBC Lower Mainland 349 Views

EMC BC: Virtual Networking Event Summary

This special EMC BC manufacturers event looked at what it takes to build and develop a World Class Safety Program.  Our theme centered around “Thinking Forward – Thinking Safety” and with that thought in mind, we examined Health and Safety Continuous Improvement initiatives with a larger goal of what it takes to become World Class!

With 2021 around the corner, it is the perfect opportunity to consider the make-up and resilience of our current programs and how to build upon those foundations.

We were very thrilled to have Jose Barranco, from WorkSafe BC, join us to share insight on what a World Class Program might entail - including Safety Management Systems, Compliances, and so forth.

Through our Guest Speaker the following topics were discussed:

  • Defining the main components of a Safety Program
  • Understanding the return on investment of implementing a Safety Program
  • The impact of an effective Safety Program on workplace culture
  • Familiarization of the BC Workers Compensation Act and BC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

Jose mentioned that there are so many avenues and distinct opportunities available in pursuing a World Class Safety Program and we would just touch on some specific pieces.  Suffice it to say, we will definitely revisit this topic again in 2021 and hope to garner some “in-process” insight from companies currently embarking on a journey of this nature.

Why safety?

A Health and Safety Program is a definite plan of action designed to prevent accidents and occupational diseases.

There are some key benefits to a Health and Safety Program including:

  • employee morale increase
  • increased productivity and engagement
  • reduced absenteeism
  • cost savings (insurance/hirings/overtime/etc.)
  • foster innovation
  • compliance with regulations
  • people go home safely

To understand the importance and impact a good safety program can have on a company – from culture to bottom line results – our Speaker shared a CNN video interview with Paul O’Neill, Former CEO of Alcoa.  (The link can be found in the table below).  Paul mentioned during the interview that tough decisions in defence of safety initiatives had to be made and through the process employees gained dignity, respect and a sense of pride – changing the culture and proving the cost savings for investing in programs, training and support in H&S projects.

When it comes to world class safety systems there are five components (similar to QMS):

  1. Leadership
  2. Integrated System Approach
  3. Performance Measurement
  4. Alignment to Core Organizational Initiative
  5. Corporate Citizenship and off the job Safety

The Basics:

In BC, all employers must have a safety program.  The number of workers and risk level will determine the type of program (formal or less formal) and requirements for a JHSC.

Beyond the Basics:

There are both Safety Programs and Safety Management Systems.

Safety Management Systems are like a continuous improvement journey – a plan forward.  This is just a new level of performance where a company is trying to achieve above average results.

As we talked about this we reviewed the differences between a Safety Program and Safety Management.  We also looked at the PDCA Cycle and how that strategy marries nicely with the implementation of a Health and Safety Program.  (A link to a PDCA video can be found in the Resource Table below).

With regard to KPI’s, these need to make sense to your organization.  What are the leading or in-process indicators that can help you stay proactive vs reactive.  As you integrate KPI’s, every person should be aware of their contribution to the safety program.  This can become a very powerful tool when people start to take part.

Engaging people is critical.  People transition through different stages when programming is introduced beginning with Pathological and ending with Generative – where ideas and contributions flow freely:

  • Generative
  • Reactive
  • Calculative
  • Proactive
  • Generative

The Certificate of Recognition Program (COR) provides companies with the opportunity to build on three areas of their business:

  • A Safe and healthy workplace
  • Competitive advantage
  • Financial savings

Once a company passes an audit conducted by OHSMS and have met WorkSafe BC’s standards, they can receive a certificate indicating accomplishment of this.  Additional savings could be also applicable for some employers.

There is also the Canada’s Safe Employer Award Program (Canada's Safest Employers Awards - Canada's Safest Employers Awards).  “The Canada’s Safest Employers Awards recognize the outstanding employers in key industries from across Canada for their achievements, leadership and innovation in health and safety over the past 12 months.” Generally speaking this runs in June and is a great initiative to engage in. 

The Plan:

Jose suggested to start simple and that a company should find a single safety issue that you might want to correct.  Take the time to understand the issue and make a case to talk to Senior Management.  With buy-in, implement and jump on the opportunity to “partner-up” for integration – ie. QA.  Engage people!

He suggested by making things more personal, people will take ownership and more involved (ie. a wall with employees photos’ and why safety is important to them).

We also chatted about Western Canada Programs through the Prairie Provinces.  Those involve Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels.

Call to Action:

If you are interested in embarking on a journey of this nature, WorkSafe BC has a wealth of information and resources and our Speaker too would be happy to connect with you anytime.  There was a wealth of information and resources shared and links to those along with highlights from Jose’s presentation can be found below:

For more information:

Jose Barranco, BSc, CRSP

Acting Manager, OHS Consultation & Education Services – Manufacturing & Retail Prevention Services Division
604.232.5800 | 778.554.4338

WorkSafeBC - 6951 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC

Very special thanks to Jose Barranco of WorkSafe BC for sharing such an insightful presentation and key resources that can assist companies!


And, on behalf of EMC – very special thanks to all of our participants for taking the time out of your busy day to join in on this virtual presentation and discussion! 


All the best as always!

Stay safe and stay well!

Bren de Leeuw

Western Canada Operations and
Vice President – Community Partnerships & Stakeholder Relations
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - - 519-372-6009