Up-Standers: The RCMP

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Articles, Up-Stander, Workplace Safety | 0 comments

It is difficult to accept or even fathom the horrific events of Wednesday and the days that followed this past week when three RCMP officers lost their lives and two others were injured in Moncton, New Brunswick at the hands of someone a former Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP has described as a monster. While the “monster” ended his demented adventure by raising his hands and saying “It’s over” walking away unharmed, the people he killed died on the job and those he wounded were injured in their workplace – the streets of the communities where we live and work. It is no solace for anyone that those who take on roles as police officers, firefighters, emergency service workers and even soldiers understand going in that their duties may place them at much higher risk than for the rest of us. All of us owe our first responders a huge debt of gratitude for their service and their courage and for accepting the risks of their commitment to their duties. No one expects to go to work in the morning and not come home at the end of the day. Nor do their families and friends. The loss to those left behind is what matters most, not some abstraction that the risks were somehow known beforehand. It is not about potential risks and subsequent consequences. Someone who was deeply, personally loved left home early in the morning and was lost forever before nightfall. As someone who lost a child at work I can only say this. My heart goes out to the wives, children and parents of these people for the loss of those they loved so much and the harm that has come to others. — Paul Kells Workplace Respect and Safety Champion, Culture Change Expert and Inspiring Speaker Reach new standards for safe and positive workplace cultures www.paulkells.com...

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Up-Stander: Pat Coursey

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Articles, Up-Stander | 2 comments

If you hear the name Pat Coursey and aren’t sure whether you have ever met her, it means you have never met Pat Coursey. Pat, I am pretty certain, would not only approve of what I am about to call her, she is probably going to appreciate it. But if you have any politically correct tendencies please close your eyes before you read the next sentence and move straight to the article I have written about her. Pat Coursey is not only an Up-Stander she is a great broad! Pat Coursey was born and raised in Regent Park, one of the roughest, toughest neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto. To say there might be folks from other parts of the city who looked down their noses at Regent Park would be an understatement. They wouldn’t dare do that in Pat’s company however. Pat is not just from that place. She is made of it and proud of it. She grew up as a member of a large family and scraped her way through the early years of her life both for herself and for them. She came by her street smarts and superb networking skills in a rough and tumble place where that was what you needed to do to survive. She was (and is) utterly loyal to her family through thick and thin, has a heart of gold with a tough-guy edge and a real soft spot for the underdog and people down on their luck. Pat Coursey, Regent Park girl, had been prepared from birth to take on whatever she needed to do to fight for who and what she believed in. In time, Pat made her way to an entry-level position at the Ministry of Labour in Ontario. When she “retired” from the Ministry, she was in charge of the entire labour inspectorate. For those who may think such career progression was just a normal kind of thing, you’ll need a little more context. People who began their careers at around the same time Pat did operated in a different world than we do today. We are not talking about your everyday glass ceiling here. It was truly a man’s world, not only in the civil service but also in most establishment institutions. The vast majority of doctors and lawyers were men. You could travel from branch to branch for months and never find a female bank manager anywhere. Police women sat behind dispatch desks or stood in front of filing cabinets and almost all newscasters were males with deep voices. So if you were Pat Coursey, woman, and you wanted to advance your career in a man’s world such as this, there were things you needed to...

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Respect Matters

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Articles, Workplace Respect, Workplace Safety | 0 comments

    We have reached a pivotal new turning point in the road toward safer healthier workplaces on a much larger scale, when injuries and deaths at work will have, at last, disappeared. The time has come to follow the signs at the crossroads marked “Respect Matters.” We have done many great things already to reduce the personal and public toll of workplace injuries. We train, educate, promote, encourage, meet, network, audit, advocate and much, much more. Thousands have also joined hands to raise the bar in preparing new and young workers for their entry into the world of work. The great news is that hundreds upon hundreds of young people’s lives have been saved because of this work, and thousands upon thousands of others have averted devastating injuries that would have changed their lives forever. But there are caveats. The first caveat is that in areas where more advanced standards of young worker safety have not been embraced, deaths and critical injuries can be up to almost double those of the most progressive regions of the country. These are the places where education systems still resist young worker awareness in schools and where the focus on putting this issue persistently in the public eye has gone missing. New workers and employers are paying the price for this; emotionally, physically and financially. The second caveat is that even in the most progressive areas of the country, hundreds of people are still being injured every day, some of them dying. In other words, we have made plenty of progress but this journey is nowhere near over. This is not just a matter of doing more of the same. It is not about treading water and waiting for the slow ones to catch up. Once again, just as we did when we began to tackle young worker injury with resolve and commitment, it is time to step outside the box. We need to fast-track new goals and new ways to eliminate the rest of the injuries that are literally injuring and killing so many people while sustaining the gains we have already achieved. Of course we must still safety-train, educate, promote, encourage, meet, network, audit, advocate and do all the other good things we do. But the next big leap forward is to get serious about simplifying how we go about building, jump-starting and sustaining workplace environments where Respect Matters. Just as I concluded some years ago that a key factor in turning around young worker injury rates would be to integrate health and safety awareness into core curriculum outcomes in schools, I have reached a similar conviction around integrating the concept “Respect Matters” into Joint Occupational Health and Safety committee...

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Up-Stander: Chief Barry King

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Articles, Up-Stander | 0 comments

On the one hand, as I approached Canada’s five national banks to help fund the new national Safe Community organization, I also hoped to reach a local community willing and able to manifest the vision of what this movement could represent for its citizens. The organization that first pointed me toward the Safe Community movement was the Industrial Accident Prevention Association of Ontario, which employed injury prevention experts in every region of Ontario. Through this network I was directed toward one community that would soon become the first champion of a national effort to reduce injuries at a community level. And this is how I came to meet Barry King, Chief of Police in Brockville Ontario. Barry has now retired (well actually in truth he will never truly retire after a 46 year policing career. He served as Chief for 20 years in Brockville and Sault Ste. Marie, was Superintendent at Peel Region Police and began his career as a military police officer. Barry took it on. He, with David Paul, was responsible for creating the first nationally designated Safe Community in Canada, in Brockville.  His community was designated the very first day we launched the national organization as well. So, while Barry’s professional work in crime and harm reduction was one thing, his volunteer service and leadership in community safety was above and beyond; a source for the inspiration I personally took from this incredible man. Barry was one of those police guys who got the connection that preventing harm would be at least as important as dealing with it after bad things happened. He was instrumental in building on efforts that not only reduced injuries through education and awareness, but also focused on building confidence and character in young people, particularly for those at more risk than others. Barry is the ultimate Up-Stander. He not only talked the talk, which he did by travelling anywhere in Canada or abroad to tell anyone who would listen what it means to take on the challenge of becoming a Safe Community, but did it for real day-in, day-out back home. Even more than that that, as an international Safe Community which is obliged to seek out ways to help out other communities in other countries, Barry took it the whole nine yards. Some thirty years ago, a nuclear power plant imploded in Chernobyl, Ukraine.  It devastated the area, created a toxic environment in the immediate surroundings with lasting after effects from radiation exposures.  Some years later, after the founding of Safe Communities in Brockville, Barry partnered with Canadian Aid for Chernobyl. He travelled to Belarus to support the Chausy and Minsk Police and Fire Departments to champion a Safe Community....

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People Want to Matter

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Articles, Culture Change, Workplace Respect | 1 comment

Recently, I worked with nine people from five different organizations, ranging from large to mid-size employers to a small business. We were focused on a second phase of exploration around issues connected to respect in the workplace. Prior to our morning together, each of the participants had prepared in advance for it by taking the 90-minute online program Respect in the Workplace. There were several reasons for doing this, but the most important of all related to a key principle of culture change.  Whenever we seek to move a group toward any action plan or any attempt to generate broad support for change (including workplace culture change) we need to establish a common start point. This is best accomplished by ensuring that everyone is speaking the same language created through one vehicle. In this case, the 90-minute online program established the definitions and illustrations of what constitutes respectful and inappropriate behaviours.  There was no longer any uncertainty about where one person’s teasing ends and another person’s view that they have been bullied begins.  The shared base of understanding was critical to moving forward quickly into understanding what actions needed to be taken toward for change. Let me underline this point with an example that arose during our discussions.  I asked each person in the group to talk about the one idea they thought was most important to them that they were taking away from our discussions. Two of the most senior people in the room called it their aha moment.  They walked away with a profoundly deeper understanding of the more subtle forms of inappropriate behaviour, not just the patently obvious forms of physical or verbal abuse. They realized that the emotional impact or harm from teasing, joking around, embarrassing people in front of others or even just being ignored can be every bit as undermining to a person or a culture as the other stuff! Earlier in the morning I asked what other words or thoughts people associated with the word “respect”.  As an aside, I would recommend this as a very useful discussion to have in any work group.  Within fifteen minutes such a question can deliver great insights about the values and attitudes most people see as important to them in a respectful environment.  But it was the follow-up question later in the meeting that told me something I had not so deeply understood before. I asked everyone in the room to consider what “disrespectful” meant to them. The answers came in different forms – but all connected to one simple principle that was most certainly, at least from this small sample group, fundamental to a respectful organization: people want to know they matter. This surfaced in many...

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The Elephant in the Room: Bridging the Risk Gap for New and Young Workers

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Articles, Workplace Safety | 1 comment

The workplace injury data tells the tale. Evidence says new and young workers are three to six times more likely to be injured in their first six months on the job depending on where they live.  New workers are those who have moved from one job to another either with their current employer or to another job somewhere else. Young workers are those under the age of twenty-five. This is not “news” to anyone in the “safety” business. We need to recognize the elephant in our room. As a country, we are not good enough at bridging the risk gap for new and young workers. We all pay the price for this. The cost is greatest for those who suffer injuries or even lose their lives because of our inability to deal with the elephant. That is the bad news.  The good news is these are problems with solutions. There are exceptional employers who do get this right. More often than not their workplaces are among the most dangerous of all in terms of their potential for harm to health, safety and the environment. Failures or mistakes leading to explosions, structural or mechanical collapses or other catastrophic events can not only cost lives but also damage to property and the environment on a massive scale. So for these organizations, there is no option but to manage every possible risk. The result is zero injury for all workers; the new and young  included. So that means there are proven best practices already available. The reasonable questions to ask then are: What has been missing for everyone else until now? What are the best practices of those who have already have this figured out? What are the guiding principles that work that will lead us to success? What new barriers are coming our way that we need to account for now? What framework, tactics and tools do we need to operationalize worker employee start-ups better? Put another way, what are the new standards and actions required to orientate, train, supervise and mentor those who are transitioning to new jobs or entering our workforce at a young age in order to keep them out of harm’s way? The Respect Matters workshop covers this entire area in some detail, but for now I will briefly highlight only a couple of key elements. First, there are three areas where improvement is required and where those who have succeeded already have managed to integrate them into best practice. 1. Adequate supervision and hands-on oversight According to a study by the Institute of Work and Health, 75% new worker injuries occur when no supervisor is present. There are solutions other than placing one supervisor beside a...

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