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Kasa Consulting, a growing full-service health and safety consulting and auditing company, is currently looking for a hardworking, independent, positive individual.
Entry position open: Jr. Administrator. This position requires no health and safety experience, but preference will be given to those with previous health and safety experience. Strong computer and writings skills are a must.
Please forward all resume to info@Kasaconsulting.ca. Only those who are being considered will be contacted.
If you belong to a large company or have worked at a large company, it is likely that you work more closely with some colleagues than others. Divisions, groups or teams need to be created to manage certain tasks, and this is necessary for businesses to operate. However, if these divisions, groups or teams become too entrenched or lack clear leadership, these workers are unlikely to socialize, problem solve or share workplace ideas or priorities with other affected stakeholders. This occurrence has been documented in the business world as the ‘silo effect.’ The silo effect can be seen in companies where divisions, groups, or teams within an organization are not sharing information, knowledge, or goals openly with other divisions, groups or teams within the same company.
A lack of communication between these entities and other affected parties is problematic on many levels. One common example of the problematic nature of silos in the workplace is tension between conflicting leadership styles resulting in poor communication. Health and Safety Management Systems thrive in work environments where there is a culture of open and ongoing conversations between all affected parties in a company. Given that companies with a silo-mentality display characteristics that are the opposite of this, it is clear that workplace silos present a real threat to leading health & safety management systems. Another common example is redundancies that result in management system information (policies, procedures, forms, initiatives), technologies, software’s, and company health & safety resources, resultant from siloed decision making made separate of the greater good or with one’s division, group or team only in mind.
So how can companies ensure that their divisions, groups or teams are not operating within a workplace silo, but instead are part of a cohesive and collaborative workplace? The primary solution lies with the leadership team. Executive teams should work to push a top down management style where workers are expected to buy in to a singular health & safety management system and have associated accountabilities to meet the confines of that management system. Consistent delivery of this expectation will ultimately result in barriers going away, and collaboration resulting. The aim is to change the perception from an us vs. them, to an all for one and one for all!
A collaborative approach will help to ensure that safety is a shared priority. This is important, as a misalignment of ‘bigger picture’ priorities has been documented as a classic indicator of a silo-effected workplaces. Even if numerous teams are involved in the same project, all individuals should have more or less the same priorities. In this case, this means that in order to reduce the existence of a silo-effect, between divisions, groups, or teams, the goal of “everyone goes home safe everyday” must prevail.
To mitigate a workplace with deeply entrenched silo effect; research suggests that positive encounters encourage team-work, foster positive relationships, and encourage open communication. This means that as well as making an effort to work collaboratively with stakeholders from all divisions, groups, or teams to create a culture of strong workplace safety, it is also important that team members make an effort to engage positively in building trust and relationships with team members from all areas in the company to break down barriers. Ultimately, relationships and trust are the most meaningful way to mitigate the barriers associated with silos! All efforts failed, it is vital to challenge and change the perception of team members who are toxic to progress. You are only as strong as your weakest link.
With the changes recently made by the Alberta government we needed to update our safety program. I was looking for a company that would be able to not only give us the needed direction and documentation but also go step by step with us and roll it out. After phoning many safety consulting companies I found many that were willing to help us with the documentation but none that would take the time to work alongside us to help role it out properly. I stumbled across Kasa Consulting in my search and originally talked to Cam. After I had explained what I was looking for he immediately said they could definitely help us with that. I was a little leery at first because of all the other companies that said they could not do what we needed. They were available the next business day to meet and go over clearly my expectations which again they said they would have no problems doing.
After our meeting they immediately went to work. I have to say that not only did they do what they said they would do but it was organized, ahead of schedule, they were a pleasure to work with and right on budget. I will be happy to use them in the future to keep our safety program up to date and have their help in training our staff when it comes to safety training.
President of The Gentlemen Plumbers
Workers primarily work to pay the bills, right? But research shows that workers who are genuinely engaged in their work are happier, healthier, safer, as well as being more productive and profitable to the companies they work for. Intuitively, there is also a far higher retention rate of employees who report that they find their work engaging. So how should companies go about reducing the ‘clock in, do the minimum and clock out’ mentality, in favour of engaging their workers in a more genuine way?
One important recommendation to assist in engaging workers in their workplaces is to ensure that company goals are transparent. Workers should know what the company is working towards, and should be kept informed on the company’s progress towards these goals. They should understand the scope of their work in terms of what is being achieved on a broader level, rather than just being briefed on their day to day tasks. Open communication between all company levels motivates and engages workers who see the value in their contributions, and can take partial ownership of the positive progress of the company. Joint action towards a shared goal can also assist in creating a unified and cohesive workplace. Even departments who work in vastly different areas of the company can feel a sense of belonging to a larger whole.
Genuine engagement is also closely linked to workers’ relationship to their immediate supervisors. First and foremost, supervisors should try to foster a respectful relationship with workers. It may seem obvious, but people will feel far more connected to a company if they are known on a personal level, rather than feeling like a cog in an immense machine. As well as getting to know individuals in a personal sense, supervisors should make an effort to understand the professional goals of the individuals who work under them. This allows supervisors to try to set up opportunities for growth, personal development and lateral movement where possible. One recommendation for allowing growth and development is to allow frequent opportunities for workers to demonstrate initiative and leadership without the micro-management of a supervisor or owner. This is important, as not allowing workers who are clearly capable to take on more responsibility and independence in their role can leave them feeling stagnant and frustrated.
Welcoming feedback from employees at all levels is another important component of encouraging genuine engagement. Workers are often in a unique position to identify issues in the internal workings of a company. Failing to provide workers with a means to report on these issues, or letting these reports go unnoticed or unaddressed, not only actively discourages worker engagement, but is detrimental to company operations. Some ways of encouraging workers to give feedback include weekly or monthly surveys, skip-level meetings (where leading or senior employees speak directly to workers), or tailgate meetings where worker input is welcomed. Allowing workers to give feedback (and actioning this feedback where possible) lets workers know that their opinions are respected and valued.
By making company goals transparent, encouraging supervisors to get to know those working under them, and encouraging the invaluable feedback which can be provided by workers, leaders can ensure that workers are engaged. And not only are engaged workers more productive, profitable and safe, engaged workers are happier workers!
As someone who has worked in the social services industry for a decade, I have come to appreciate companies who choose to help their community. Hull Services, where I worked assisting children and families, would not have been able to operate without the assistance of many sponsors and volunteers in the Calgary community. Although my career path has taken a turn in recent years, I am still eager to keep community spirit alive. At Kasa Consulting, Cam and I have committed to helping our community in a variety of ways, and look forward do doing more as our company grows and evolves.
One of the ways in which we support our community is through sponsoring sports teams. One of our employees, Alex Entz, plays on a Fernie softball team called Faces Loaded, and with our assistance, they were able to obtain new team jerseys. We also sponsor a basketball team in the Central Alberta Senior Men’s Basketball Association, as a way of showing one of our valued clients – Colter Energy Services – that we support them in more than their health and safety initiatives.
Another way we show our commitment to community is through donating necessary goods for the less fortunate in Calgary and Edmonton. One of our clients, DistributionNOW, spends a considerable amount of time every year collecting donations on behalf of Inn from the Cold. Inn from the Cold is an organization that collects warm clothing, accessories, diapers, and toiletries for those in need, and thanks to DistributionNOW, we have been made aware of this great organization that we have supported for the past few years.
Finally, I am a member of Calgary Women in Energy (CWIE). As part of this group, I have assisted in many of their planned, charitable events. Over the years of my involvement with the CWIE, I have served lunch and dinner at the Calgary Drop-in Centre, participated in a blood drive with Canadian Blood Services, volunteered at a charity golf tournament for the Louise Dean School, a school which allows young mothers, both current and expectant, to complete their education, and taken part in a Stuff-A-Purse drive for women in need.
Volunteering is something the Kasa team does throughout the year. If you would like to participate in any of the initiatives we are currently involved in, or will be involved in, or if you would like to include Kasa in any of your community spirit initiatives, please feel free to call or email me anytime.
403-605-8641 / email@example.com
There is no doubt that companies which prioritize the safety of their workers reap numerous positive outcomes. Safe and healthy workplaces have lower rates of injury, illness, and accidental death, as well as lower rates of absenteeism and turnover. It is also documented that workplaces with an enshrined culture of safety are more productive, and that employees within those workplaces have greater morale and dedication for their work. However, what is the most effective way to create a pervasive culture of workplace safety? It is clear that this is an issue which requires urgent and ongoing attention. The Workplace Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics Provincial Summary released by Alberta OHS reported 116 workplace fatalities and 44,543 disabling injury claims in 2016.
It’s intuitive that if workers were to display safety-conscious behaviour 100% of the time, there would be reduced rates of workplace incidents. However, given workplaces’ fixation on productivity and efficiency, as well potential confounding factors such as workplace culture and peer pressure, it is difficult to ensure that this happens. In an attempt to address these issues, many Albertan companies have adopted safety incentive programs. These programs reward workers (such as with gift cards, cash bonuses, company merchandise or public accolades) for safe behaviour. However, there is significant debate over whether these programs have a positive, negative or negligible affect on workplace safety.
Incentive programs can measure success in different ways. Rate-based programs measure tangible outcomes, such as the number of reports of unsafe conditions, or the number of work place injuries. For example, a group of workers may be rewarded if no incidents occur during a pre-dictated time span. Less incidents are assumed to be correlated with a safer workplace. However, this can be a problematic assumption. It is documented that incentive programs which measure success via an absence of reports of unsafe conditions can act as a disincentive to workers considering reporting, as safety bonuses will be at stake. For example, if there was to be a monetary prize offered to any workers who were not injured, might this not act as a disincentive to report injuries? The potential pitfalls of a rate-based program are illustrated in the case of a BP refinery explosion in Texas City in 2005, where 15 workers were killed and 180 were injured. An investigation into the contributing factors of the explosion revealed that the rate-based safety incentive program which the BP refinery had in place in fact discouraged safe practices, as workers feared backlash from management if they were to report dangerous practices or conditions. In response to this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US released an official statement stressing that employees had a right to report safety issues, and that it was discriminatory to institute programs or practices which acted against, or discouraged, these rights.
The other main type of safety incentive program is a leading indicators, or behaviour-based program. These programs are process based rather than results based, in that they focus on influencing present behaviours of employees, rather than examining the incident or injury rates which have already occurred in a company. Examples may include rewarding workers for identifying potential improvements in practices, for reporting dangerous conditions, or even for routine workplace practices such as wearing correct Personal Protective Equipment at the job site or attending safety meetings. The American manufacturing company Olin, for example, introduced a behaviour-based incentive program to address their problematically low 60% attendance rate at safety meetings, and increased attendance to 100%. In another case, employees of American company Heartland Foods received incentives for submitting “close call” forms. Workers’ Compensation costs five years after this program was introduced had been halved.
Due to widely documented positive results such as these, programs which are behaviour-based are considered less problematic and more successful than rate-based programs. Despite this, many question whether employees should get a reward for fulfilling their safety responsibilities, or whether this should instead simply be a requirement of their job.
Psychologically speaking, it has been documented that motivation for an activity can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. If you are intrinsically motivated towards a goal, you are motivated internally by a belief that you are engaging in behaviours and activities which are correct and worthwhile on a personal level. For example, an employee might be committed to safe practices for reasons related to their own wellbeing, or for continuing to provide for family members in the long term. On the other hand, it is extensively documented that if you are motivated to do something by external factors which are outside of your control, you are less likely to maintain these practices in the long term. Incentive programs run the risk of disrupting individuals genuine intrinsic inclination towards safe practices, and shifting motivation towards shorter-term and less sincere goals such as receiving monetary prizes.
There is no doubt that the issue of safety incentives in workplaces remains divisive. There are extensive positive results documented by many companies around the world who have utilized safety incentives in the workplace, but on the other hand the numerous pitfalls of incentive programs have in some cases led to disastrous consequences. If utilized, employers should ensure that workplace incentive programs are behaviour-based, rather than rate-based. Most importantly incentive programs should only supplement, rather than stand in place of, a comprehensive safety program, which remains the key component of ensuring safe workplace practices.
Well it finally happened to me. I thought just like the thousands of others travelling Hwy #1 on Oct 2, 2018 east of Canmore, that even if we get stopped due to an accident, it would take a few hours max to get it cleaned up and keep us moving. I mean we have all seen the Towing reality TV shows where the RCMP and Transport Canada say repeatedly that due to economic reasons, the hwy cannot remain closed for any length of time. As we know this is the main East – West corridor for materials movement in Canada. But in this case, due to many reasons, the road remained closed for the better part of 16 hours. Some of the many reasons were due to early Fall snowstorm with record amounts of snow, perfect temperature for freezing at -3C, volume of traffic and inexperienced drivers without proper tires. I am assuming that the Highways department was caught off guard as well and I am sure there are many other contributing factors to mention.
It was one of the strangest situations I have ever been involved with.
My personal highlights were:
• Watching people give up and attempt to turn around through the ditch even though most cars and SUV’s that made attempts failed and became stuck. Pickup trucks were mostly successful. Of course, this option was only available if you were in the median lane.
• People were trying to drive their cars on the shoulder that did not exist, and some tried to squeeze through the middle even though there was nowhere to go since the traffic was stopped for 10km forward and back. I witnessed multiple arguments and even a few people being threatened with a pipe.
• This was not unexpected as people were very upset with the lack of information. Of course if you listen to the RCMP interviews in response to this, their fallback is that travel was not recommended due to road conditions and we all should have just stayed home. That is a very convenient response and kind of falls into the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ scenario, as we hear this statement most of the winter season. If in fact it was that bad, and no one should be on the road, then why did it remain open? See next bullet point…
• The Alberta 511 website and phone line stated only to expect delays. At no point during this event did the website show the road as being closed. There were very few updates to the actual mobile app, but as reported in the news, if you subscribe to Twitter, there was a few Tweets sent out. I do not Tweet, so I did not see these updates.
• One family was building a snowman with their kids. Kudos to them for making the best to keep the kids entertained, I am sure they were scared.
• A lady came to my truck looking for food for her diabetic mother. I gave her the only thing I had which was a half a chocolate bar. I was still believing that we had to be moving soon since it had already been 3 hours.
• Another lady came to my truck looking for napkins. I did one better and gave her some toilet paper. She was very thankful.
• I had a pack of water bottles and gave away most of my supply.
• There was no information at all on the radio. I even started listening to the AM News station.
• I never saw a single plow. There were two tow trucks and one RCMP travelling the wrong direction on the other side of the highway since that side was also closed.
• I called the Canmore RCMP non- emergency line around 3am to try and get some information and I was told that crews were working on it and that the highway would eventually reopen. Well I was thankful for that since I thought it would be closed forever.
• The temperature was not too cold at night, so I was able to run the truck off and on to conserve fuel, but it could have been very different in colder temps.
• I had plenty of fuel since I filled up before hitting the highway. A good practice any time of year.
• I personally had lots of water, and warm clothes, but no food.
This was a good reminder that when we travel for work or to hockey games with our kids, we need to have an emergency kit packed in our vehicles. You never know how long you could be stranded. This time I was alone, but next time my family could have been with me as many others in this situation were. Being prepared for emergencies does not happen overnight. I have created this checklist to build your kit over time. This is a good way to be prepared without overwhelming your schedule or your budget.
o Candle in a deep can and matches
o Extra clothing and shoes/boots
o Seatbelt cutter/or knife
o First-aid kit
o Flashlight (battery-powered or crank)
o Food that will not spoil (such as energy bars)
o List of contact numbers
o Radio (battery-powered or crank)
o Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
o Warning light or road flares and a whistle
o Toilet paper
o Windshield washer fluid
o Fire extinguisher
o Road maps
o Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
o Tow rope
o Extra batteries for flashlight and radio, Portable and compact battery charger/booster with USB for charging phone
My thoughts go out to those that were injured and to the families of the fatality on Hwy #2 in this October snowstorm.
As workplace safety requirements increase, these processes are unfortunately increasingly perceived by workers as the bi-product of an overly litigious, ‘nanny-state’ world: red-tape requirements and boxes which must be ticked to appease safety officers. These requirements are often completed disingenuously and resented for creating extra work and hindering efficiency. However, it has been extensively proven that weak safety culture in workplaces is associated with workplace fatalities, injury, illness, lower job satisfaction and significant loss of revenue for companies and individuals. To avoid these consequences, employees at all levels must take an interest in creating a safe workplace, rather than considering it solely the safety person’s responsibility.
The concept of workplace safety seems far more critical when one considers the history of workplace safety laws, and the significant improvements which have been achieved in the lives of workers since the rise of safety culture. Workers in Industrial Revolution era Britain were subject to appalling conditions: 14-hour shifts were common, and children as young as 6 worked factory flaws for abysmal pay. Machinery used in mills were notoriously unsafe, and disabling injuries and fatalities were common. Furthermore, poor sanitation and hot closed factory conditions meant that contagious illnesses such as typhus, typhoid and smallpox were widespread. The Factory Act of 1802 stipulated proper ventilation and minimal standards of cleanliness, as well as ensuring that children received a basic education and clothing. Working hours were capped at twelve hours a day and working at night was eliminated for children. This was the first major win for Safety Laws in the Western world, and the positive implications for individuals affected by these improvements would have been immense.
Obviously we have come a long way since those days, but unfortunately unsafe workplace conditions cannot be relegated to antiquity. The preoccupation of modern companies with hazard prevention and documentation is not irrelevant, as Alberta has by no means achieved an acceptable standard of safety for all workers. In 2016 The Workplace Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics Provincial Summary released by Alberta OHS reported 116 workplace fatalities and 44,543 disabling injury claims.
Despite these concerning statistics, many companies still have a weak safety culture. In such work places safety is often relegated to the domain of supervisors, managers or safety officers. This is problematic, as it should not be someone else’s responsibility to complete forms and safety reports. Nor should it be on someone else to intervene if an incident is about to happen. Safety is a shared responsibility and cannot be relegated exclusively to one person, or to a few people. This idea is in fact inherently flawed, as the majority of safety incidents involve workers, not managers or safety personnel. When safety is a ‘top-down’ process, which is enforced onto workers rather than embraced as a genuine priority, it is those very workers who are likely to experience the resultant risks, injuries and fatalities. So what can work places do to establish a shared and genuine culture of safety?
Some Canadian workplaces have embraced safety incentives as a way of involving employees at all levels in their own safety and the safety of those around them. In some cases employees identifying near-misses, attending meetings or wearing correct PPE consistently are rewarded, and in others individuals or teams are rewarded if no incidents occur over a given time period. In any incentive system though, there is the risk that a safety preoccupation becomes disingenuous and superficial: aimed at monetary or material reward rather than being motivated by a genuine concern for the wellbeing of oneself and one’s colleagues.
What other initiatives can help management to establish safety as a shared responsibility? One method which has received significant success is in involving workers in the formulation of a clear, common vision for reducing illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Management should be open and transparent about jointly formed goals and involve workers in decisions about how they might be achieved. If workers are more involved in the creation of these processes, they feel a sense of ownership. Measures are designed not only for them, but also partially by them. Workers who make suggestions for safety, or who report near-misses, should be celebrated for making their workplace a safer place. Management should ensure that workers are actively involved in safety meetings and in communications about evolving safety measures. Suggestion boxes and surveys are other ways to involve workers who may not feel comfortable voicing their opinion in a public meeting scenario. Whichever method is deemed most appropriate by management, ongoing conversations with workers about the safety of themselves and their colleagues is the aim, or in other words ‘talking with’ rather than ‘talked at’ workers. By giving employees a voice, collaboration and genuine engagement is fostered.
As well as leadership involving all employees in safety goals, leadership should also ensure that employees know that a preoccupation with safety is aimed primarily at worker wellbeing. In other words, leadership’s prioritization of safety should be motivated by keeping their employees safe, rather than by keeping within red-tape boundaries or passing audit requirements, and this commitment should be made clear to workers. Employees are likely to view safety processes more positively if they feel that these steps are designed based on a genuine commitment to their wellbeing.
Management can demonstrate this sincere concern for workers by taking reports of incidents or near-misses seriously, and investigating them in a thorough, sincere and timely manner. Incident investigations should be rigorous rather than simply conducted to enable management to tick a legal box. In serious cases, management can enforce a stand-down, whereby operations are ceased until all are confident that it is safe to return to work. These actions will reinforce management’s stated aim to ensure that all company employees are working in a safe environment.
These strategies are aimed at restructuring the perception of workplace safety from a process which is top-down and enforced upon disinterested employees, towards employees having a vested interest in belonging to a company which operates safely. These measures should ideally foster positive peer pressure towards reporting unsafe conditions, and working as a team to resolve these. If safety becomes a shared responsibility, the positive impacts in terms of lower rates injury, illness, fatalities and loss of company and individual incomes, will be felt and enjoyed by all.
Kasa Consulting, a full-service health and safety consulting and auditing company that services Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC, and Ontario, is currently looking to fill the full-time position of Senior Health and Safety Consultant. The position requires at least 5 years health & safety experience. Preference will be given to those with previous health and safety consulting experience and a safety designation, such as CRSP, CHSC; or CSP. We are a forward thinking organization seeking to provide our clients with the most up to date techniques within the Health & Safety industry.
Please forward all resume to Christy@Kasaconsulting.ca