In response to injuries and fatalities in the Ontario mining industry, in 2013 the provincial government brought together an advisory group made up of representatives from companies, labour, health and safety organizations and families. The advisory group held public sessions across the province, and heard from 150 people plus 64 written submissions. Its final report was released this spring. In this post, originally distributed as an update from Ontario’s Prevention Officer, CPO George Gritziotis discusses his experience as part of the mining review.

During the Mining Review I spent quite a bit of time with people who manage or work in mines. I visited several mines and those were experiences I won’t forget. On one occasion, I was 5,000 feet below the surface – and the thing that mattered most to me right then was who I could count on for help if I needed it. All your relationships – including the relationships you have with your co-workers or your boss – are magnified when you are in a situation like that.

These kinds of relationships are no different wherever you work. Who is responsible for safety at work? Answer: Everyone. Because everyone has a part to play in keeping your workplace safe, including you.

I’ve learned that there are at least three common elements that create a prevention culture in a mine, or in any workplace.

  1. Alignment of attitudes and values …

This means everyone from the top on down in the organization must believe in the value of health and safety in the workplace and make a commitment to care. It also means an alignment of work and personal values: that what you believe and do at work is also what you believe and do anywhere else.

  1. Knowledge …

Occupational health and safety must be part of the knowledge transfer during the work cycle. This includes ongoing skills development and training, positive labour relations and constant dialogue between all levels in the organization.

  1. Practice all forms of health and safety …

Everyone has to participate in the practice of health and safety to shift to a prevention culture. Who are you counting on to be safe – and who is counting on you?

Joint Health and Safety Committee members, Health and Safety Representatives, colleagues, parents, children, spouses and friends can influence outcomes at work and at home.

Building a prevention culture means fostering relationships where we can all count on each other.

As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

This article originally appeared in the Ontario Ministry of Labour Prevention Office‘s Fall 2015 edition of “Inside Prevention”.

Who are you counting on to be safe – and who is counting on you?
George Gritziotis