Manitoba NAOSH Week


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M ike Gordon and Mike Jones always put safety first. After all, safety is their business: Gordon is the co-founder of Workplace Engineering Solutions and Jones is executive director of the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba. As Manitoba co-chairs of North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week May 3-9, their goal is to inspire others to embrace the 2015 theme — Make Safety a Habit for Your Career. It's not easy to get people excited about safety, but Jones says a flurry of public and in-house workplace events held during NAOSH Week go a long way toward raising aware- ness and interest. "There's a lot of emails, a lot of social media going out all about health and safety and we get response from that," he says. "It sparks an interest because I think most of the year safety is very boring. Safety is only exciting when something goes wrong and that's what you don't want to happen." Gordon and Jones have worked hard to reach a wider audi- ence in 2015, with a record five public launches, in Winni- peg, Brandon, Flin Flon, The Pas and Winkler/Morden. In the recent past, public launches have typically only been held in Winnipeg and Brandon. But the co-chairs accepted a challenge after Minister of Labour and Immigration Erna Braun signed a proclamation for NAOSH Week in 2014 and asked, "What about the rest of the province?" "Mike and I took it upon ourselves to say, 'How can we ex- pand this? How do we get more people excited?' " Gordon says. "Because they're not all going to drive in to Winnipeg for the launch." The two reached out to potential partners in half a dozen towns, and found local champions for launches that will be hosted by the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada Safety Association in Winkler and by the Construction Safety Asso- ciation of Manitoba (CSAM) in Flin Flon and The Pas. "We're very proud of those efforts to get those events go- ing on in other communities," Jones says. "Fewer events of this kind go on in those rural communities so we're very proud to have put safety firmly on the map, if it's only just for NAOSH Week." The Winnipeg launch is being held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Mon- day, May 4 starting at 8:30 a.m., and Gordon says the choice of venue should help the NAOSH committee reach a wider audience. Along with a continental breakfast and greetings from dignitaries, the launch will include a speech about work- ers' rights from City of Win- nipeg workplace consultant Simon Gillingham, and PCL Construction has a video presentation about safety precautions that were taken during the museum's con- struction. Safe Workers of Tomorrow will be on hand to represent the interests of new and young workers, who are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to safety in the workplace, and Manitoba Public In- surance will provide a presentation on distracted driving. A number of safety businesses and organizations are repre- sented on the Manitoba NAOSH Week committee, but Gor- don says increasing participation among individuals and organizations outside the safety field will be one measure of success this year. "I know that 75 people would turn up every year no matter what. It's how do you get beyond that; how do you get the public involved and other groups involved? That to me is an important measure, not just the attendance but how many new people come out." Along with the public launches and events such as the annual Steps for Life Walk, set for May 3 in Kildonan Park, workplaces across the province mark NAOSH Week with in- house events and activities ranging from barbecues to emergency prepared- ness drills, fire extinguisher demonstrations and col- ouring contests for kids. Last year, Maple Leaf Foods and Barkman Concrete earned national NAOSH Week awards for clever in- house campaigns. Maple Leaf Foods held a family safety fair and Barkman Concrete produced a si- lent-film training video. "They made it fun," Jones says. "The actors were people from that business and the great thing about a silent movie safety message is that it's understandable by everybody, so it's not language specific." Many workplaces hold different events daily during the week, and there's positive spill-over for the rest of the year. While many people think of big industry and construction when they consider workplace safety, Jones says it's import- ant to understand that safety issues affect every area. One story he often tells in training sessions involves a com- pany that had multitudes of workers and about 2,300 pieces of large equipment in yards and workshops across the coun- try. The potential hazards were obvious, but the most ser- ious incident didn't involve machinery. "The only time that we called an ambulance to the Winni- peg location was when the accounts receivable lady stood up and tripped over her open desk drawer, and banged her head on the filing cabinet." Gordon and Jones say it's also important during NAOSH Week to take workplace health and safety messages into the home. "Whenever I do first-aid training in the workplace, we always get the instructor to bring the infant dolls," Jones says. "That just really brings it home for some people: 'I could be doing this on my child, my grandchild, a child in the street.' " Preventable accidents happen in the home, on hobby farms, in recreation areas — everywhere. And as safety profession- als, Gordon and Jones are well aware of the dangers. "It's quite a scary world for me," Jones says. "But other people tend not to focus in on that so it's good to bring that to the forefront." The Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) is the lead organization behind NAOSH Week, working in partner- ship with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Human Resources and Social Development Canada's Labour Program, the American Society of Safety Engineers and Threads of Life. NAOSH Week was launched in 1997 through an agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which are repre- sented by the three sides of the NAOSH Week logo. For more information, visit the NAOSH Week website at By Pat St. Germain For the Free Press For more information, visit the NAOSH Week website at The Winnipeg launch is being held aT The Canadian MuseuM for HuMan rigHts on Monday, May 4 sTarTing aT 8:30 a.m., and gordon says The choice of venue should help The naosh commiTTee reach a Wider audience. Make Safety a Habit for Your Career Manitoba NAOSH Week 2015 • May 3-9 NAOSH Week co-chairs Mike Jones (left), executive director of the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba, and Mike Gordon, co-founder of Workplace Engineering Solutions, are preparing for the Manitoba launch at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Photo credit Jon Waldman / Construction Safety Association of Manitoba Supplement to the Winnnipeg Free Press, May 1, 2015 • View online at

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