BCRSP Musings Safety and Health Week: It's All About Partnership

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Safety and Health Week: It's All About Partnership 

Contribution by Christl Aggus, President of the Board, Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (CSSE)

Shifting employment climates and the global pandemic have changed how people work and engage with each other and has put a renewed focus on occupational or workplace health and safety in the last two years. The upcoming 26th annual Safety and Health Week, which is held from May 1 to 7, is a key opportunity to highlight this renewed emphasis. Safety and Health Week is a call to action for partnership between employers, employees, industry, and the public to promote and create safer workplaces and communities. The week is also an important opportunity to showcase and celebrate the success of these relationships.

Safety and Health Week is a continent-wide event that was adapted from CSSE’s Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Week (which began in 1986) during the North American Free Trade Agreement talks in 1997. CSSE has been the week’s governing body ever since. 

With partners and advocates across the country, including the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals, our goal is to promote and advance the goals of Safety and Health Week and raise awareness about the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home, and in the community. 

We do this by:

  • Improving attitudes toward safety; 
  • Increasing the understanding of the importance of occupational safety and health; 
  • Fostering a safety-minded culture; 
  • Assisting in team building and improved communication between employees and employers, safety committees, and safety professionals;
  • Reducing workplace injuries and illness by encouraging new safety and health activities; and 
  • Generating interest in Safety and Health Week.

CSSE has been the leading voice of the safety industry in Canada for more than seven decades. Our coast-to-coast-to-coast chapters form a national network of health and safety practitioners and professionals who are dedicated to working on the frontlines of creating safer communities. We are committed to playing a vital role in achieving this goal by shaping and defining the health and safety profession, providing education about health and safety, and advancing our members’ careers. To find out more about how to become a member and join our network of health and safety professionals, visit csse.org.

What the week means to me

For me, Safety and Health Week is an important opportunity to speak about the tragedy and prevention of workplace injury. 

My mother was a nurse, someone who eased people’s pain every day. Her example inspired me over the years to find and promote ways to prevent pain. And although I have never personally experienced the kind of loss that a workplace fatality causes, and hope I never have to, I have witnessed the kind of pain and incredible disruption it causes. This kind of grief is not something I ever want to experience, especially in the career I’ve chosen.

So many consequences flow from workplace death and injury: the loss of freedom, of income, and of self-esteem, as someone’s ability to contribute to their family and community is diminished or eliminated. And the feeling of shame: so many injury survivors have described to me how, after an injury occurs, they have felt such deep-rooted shame. These stories rattle me to the bone, spurring me to re-examine my own personal care habits and to work harder to collaborate in the push for injury reduction and health and safety reform in the workplace. 

Health and Safety Week is an important opportunity to raise awareness in our communities—as workers, family members, employers, and caregivers—and to collaborate to find ways to reduce and, one day, eliminate severe workplace injuries and illnesses. I am so proud to have the opportunity to unite people in this cause. 

As health and safety professionals, we understand the mechanisms of injury, we understand human ergonomic interfacing and fitting the work to the worker, and we know how to identify occupational diseases and their causes. More importantly, we have access to workers and their working environments. We are able to educate and empower workers to be mindful of their tasks and their interactions within both static and dynamic working environments. Through working hard to raise both individual awareness and employer responsibility, we can continue to reduce the frequency and severity of injury and illness in the workplace—together. 

How to get involved

This year, we officially launch Safety and Health Week on Monday, May 2, with a free virtual event that is open to everyone. This event will be hosted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and will include the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour, who will deliver greetings to officially launch the week. 

Later in the day, Syrian-Canadian entrepreneur Tareq Hadhad, founder of Peace by Chocolate, will share his emotional journey from Syria to Canada with heartbreaking and perspective-shaping stops along the way to inspire others to make their own impact on the world.

Many other Safety and Health Week events and activities are held by local, provincial, and/or regional workplaces and communities across the country, including many CSSE chapters and partners. See the Safety and Health Week website for more information, and for how to register.