Paul’s 19 year old son Sean died in a workplace explosion in 1994.
Following an inquest into Sean’s death, Paul was drawn to a new mission – to support and build safer workplace cultures, reducing risk, saving lives and diminishing the ripple effects of devastating workplace injuries on everyone.
Paul’s earlier professional experience as a senior journalist and as leader of two communication firms specialized in stakeholder and employee relations had equipped him with the tools he needed to to take on this challenge. And so he did.
His efforts to make workplaces and communities safer through the power of awareness and community action brought more than 5,000 volunteers to the cause across Canada. Young worker injury rates declined most significantly in the provinces he and his member communities were most engaged.
Paul founded Safe Communities Canada in 1996 ultimately designating over 60 communities as network members in Canada. He helped international leaders build similar organizations in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.
Safe Communities grew to be one of the four major nationally recognized injury prevention organizations in Canada and Paul helped lead efforts in 2012 to merge all four together into one major Canadian Injury Prevention organization, now called “Parachute”.
During this time, Paul also spent time traveling to and speaking at individual workplaces across the country helping employees, supervisors and management align around workplace safety, particularly for young people.
To assist in reaching greater numbers of companies and young people in schools, Paul converted and expanded one of his member communities classroom-based creations, Passport to Safety and pulled together 50 volunteers from across Canada to re-fashion it as a web-based, e-learning program.
This online program is focused on creating awareness about the rights and responsibilities on the job for youth, before they enter the workforce. It has become a nationally recognized standard of health and safety awareness for young workers. Since 2004 over 500,000 teens in four countries have completed it.
His third charitable initiative, Threads of Life, continues to help families across Canada cope with their personal devastation from workplace fatalities while advocating for workplace safety and injury reduction.
His work as a champion, volunteer and leader has led to an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law (Acadia University), the Order of Ontario, Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal and the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals. He has been an Advisor on the U.S. National Safety Council’s Board of Delegates, holds Ontario’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Volunteerism and is a member of its Volunteer Hall of Fame.
Paul’s lives in Halifax with his wife, artist Blanche Diamond, while daughter Robin Kells works with the House of Commons in Ottawa.