A few years ago, K-Line Group of Companies decided it would set itself apart from other electrical contractors by going above and beyond in safety. That’s when it began striving to meet international safety standards.
“We’ve invested heavily in health and safety. That’s due to the owner’s commitment to want to be the safest and the best company,” says Dave Hannon, manager of health, safety, environment and quality at the Stouffville, Ont.-based company.
The company’s goal was realized two years ago when it achieved the OHSAS 18001, an international occupational health and safety management system certification.
“The 18001 takes a huge commitment of time and resources. It’s a relatively rare thing, especially for a private company, to invest in,” Hannon says.
A big focus at K-Line is training. Here again, Hannon says, the company goes beyond legislative requirements. All 364 employees — including office and field staff — in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan receive training in first aid and CPR.
Moreover, K-Line’s Ontario employees are all being trained to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) standard for certification in joint health and safety committee (JHSC) membership.
“Most of our employees are trained to that standard, as opposed to just having committee members trained,” says Hannon.
The company’s policy is to have a JHSC in each province, even where one is not legally required, as in Alberta.
“We take the regulations and codes in each province as basic guidelines. We’ll bring the highest standard possible. And that’s what we’re trying to do in the West: to bring our highest standards to the western provinces,” Hannon says.
On the other hand, the approach used for safety meetings in Alberta has just been introduced in Ontario, says Renzo Cacciotti, vice-president of corporate services. So, where meetings used to be led by the foreman and presented to one crew, they are now presented by members of the safety and human resources teams before multiple crews.
“Instead of just being one foreman to a crew of five people, we now have more people, more involvement, and we bring all the crews together so
they all get exactly the same message,” he says.
An essential element of K-Line’s safety policy is its “no blame” culture, Cacciotti says, which encourages incident and hazard reporting. Employees are required to report all near misses. The company even sets an annual target for the number of near misses reported — and fixed.
“Everything for us is safety first. That’s our biggest strategic thrust,” Cacciotti says. “When you’re working live, there’s no get-out-of-jail-free card. If something happens, someone is going to get hurt. We have to work safe.”