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Turning Compliance into Gold; The Alchemy of Workplace Safety Management

Alchemy is the ancient practice of turning lead into gold; taking something of little perceived value and transforming it to something of great value. To many organizations, workplace safety still has little perceived value and compliance with government regulators is at best an irritation.

Many organizations proclaim that they are safe companies and that they care for their people. However, their actions don’t match their words. What organizations do, not what they say, expresses their true values when it comes to the safety and health of their people.

Why is there still resistance? It’s probably because workplace safety is perceived as a pure expense by management and the feeling of being forced by government regulations creates resistance in the ranks. This creates a lack of buy-in and a weak safety culture, which in turn makes compliance and enforcement difficult. The domino effect creates risk exposure and the organization becomes vulnerable to a serious workplace safety-related loss.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” - Max Planck

When new CEO of Alcoa Steel, Paul O’Neill gave his first address to shareholders in 1987, he stated that safety would be the focus and how their performance would be measured, not profits. Although Alcoa already had one of the best safety records in its industry, O’Neill thought it could do better and believed firmly that to be a world-class company, it first had to become the safest.

His speech caused shareholders to panic and sell their shares. As it turns out, his emphasis on safety made an impact that extended beyond worker health and safety. One year after O’Neill’s speech, the company’s profits hit a record high. When he retired, 13 years later, Alcoa’s annual net income was five times higher than when he started. O’Neill’s emphasis on safety fundamentally altered Alcoa’s culture as well as its growth and profitability.

The same things that cause safety issues, cause quality and production issues.

A Stanford University Department of Civil Engineering study estimated the total cost of a fractured bone is more than $50,000 when the indirect costs are factored. This amount was determined by considering things such as the cost of stopping work, cleanup, equipment repair, overtime, lost productivity, contract penalties, hiring and retraining replacement workers, and time to manage the incident.

Analyses by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Manitoba Safety Certified Companies (2000-2015) has shown dramatic benefits of a safety program to employees and a company’s bottom line:

  • Forty-two per cent lower total injury rates.
  • Forty-seven per cent lower time loss injury rates.
  • Thirty-seven per cent lower injury costs per worker from claims reported to the WCB.
  • Forty-nine per cent fewer workdays taken for time loss injuries.

At the end of the day, losses due to injury, illness and property damage are paid for from a company’s profits. Enlightened organizations are realizing that effective safety management demonstrates the true value the organization places on its human capital and it will have a positive effect on the bottom line. Ironically, compliance with safety regulations and freedom from the worry about regulatory fines and other penalties are achieved as by-products of doing the right thing for employees and the organization as a whole.

"The Alchemy of Safety Management; Turning Compliance into Gold" is a favorite keynote or workshop topic that I deliver to organizations.

Come Celebrate NAOSH Week With Us!

Join Theo at the NAOSH Week Kickoff!

Expert Panel Discussion: People, Passion and Prevention

When: Thursday May 2 @ 9:30am - 11:30am

Cost: Free

Growing Your E-Commerce Business

Immigration Information for Employers

Moderator: Laura La Palme, Owner of L2 Marketing, past NAOSH Week Co-Chair and current chair of The Safetys Gala

What happens when everyone makes safety a habit? The World Trade Centre Winnipeg and the Manitoba Chapter of North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) are pleased to present a panel of workplace safety and health professionals. Join us for an in depth discussion of the important role safety plays in the workplace and discover best practices from those leading the change in the way we think about workplace safety and health.

Attendees will learn the following:

  1. Gain an understanding of the importance of NAOSH week and its relates to workplace safety and health
  2. Take back ideas and tools to their workplace on ways to better engage all employees in workplace safety and health
  3. Get a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as it relates to workplace safety and health, as well as a list of resources for more information


  1. Christian Tardi – 2019 Co-Chair for NAOSH Week Manitoba
  2. Theo Heineman – President and CEO of 1Life Workplace Safety Solutions
  3. Brenda Preston – Manager of Learning at St John’s Ambulance Manitoba
  4. Tami Helgeson – Threads of Life
  5. Jamie Hall – COO of SAFE Work Manitoba
NOASH Week Panelists

This seminar is available for remote participants via webinar (i.e. from a computer, tablet or smartphone). Please choose “Online” at registration. The day before the event, we will send you a confirmation email with the link to join the seminar online.

Learn more and register

Ask the Expert - Supervisor Training

Q: As an employer, do I need to have a formal training plan for my supervisors?

Theo Heineman

Theo Heineman, CRSP, CHSC, B.Sc.Ag.
President & CEO, 1Life Workplace Safety Solutions Ltd.

A: YES. You must provide formal training to all employees that direct the work of others.

Not only to mitigate risk of liability in the event of a workplace incident but more importantly to set your workers up for success and ensure that they return home safe at the end of every workday.

Manitoba employers have been fined more than $50,000 for failing to train Supervisors.

What must your Supervisors need to be able to do?

  • Take the necessary precautions to protect the safety and health of workers under their supervision.
  • Ensure that workers comply with safe work procedures.
  • Advise workers of safety and health hazards in the work area.
  • Enforce safe work and use disciplinary action where necessary.

What should be in your Supervisor Training Plan?

When supervisors were trained in their responsibilities and how WCB works, between 19 - 28% of the overall reduction in new disability claims could be attributed to the training.
Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety Study.

In short, training your supervisors reduces loss to your people and your business!

Supervisors have an important role to play in preventing workplace injuries and illnesses; therefore they must be trained to fulfill that role. Supervisors need all of the instruction given to workers, plus the following training:

  • Relevant elements of the safety management system, including roles and responsibilities.
  • Hazard identification, assessment and control.
  • Conducting workplace inspections.
  • Use, care and limitations of personal protective equipment.
  • Requirements for worker training, competency, enforcement of safe work and disciplinary action.
  • Coaching and motivation.
  • Applicable sections of the WSH Act and regulations.
  • Any other matters necessary to ensure the safety and health of workers under their direction.

In determining whether a defense of “due diligence” is valid,
a judge or jury considers three main factors:

• Foreseeability – could a reasonable person have foreseen that something could go wrong?

• Preventability – was there an opportunity to prevent the incident?

• Control – who was the responsible person present who could have prevented the incident?

REMEMBER: If the training wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.

Get your supervisors trained today!

Visit mySafetyTraining.ca to get started!


2018 Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Report Card

Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade, AKA the Workplace Safety and Health Branch has completed publishing enforcement activities for 2018. We summarize them here for convenience sake and with the hope that you will review and share with your stakeholders to prevent similar incidents occurring in your workplace.


Reference MR W201/02 36(1) A safety and health officer may issue a Stop Work Order when:

  1. They are of the opinion that activities posing an imminent risk of serious injury are or about to be carried on.
  2. An improvement order previously issued was not remedied.

Powers of a Safety and Health officer; they can demand:

  1. The cessation of the activities at the location in question and across ALL other workplaces operated by the same employer.
  2. That all or part of the workplace be vacated.
  3. That no resumption of the activities be permitted by the employer.

Construction 253 Fall Protection Systems 129 Confined Spaces 5
Manufacturing 45 Serious Incident 47 Personal Protective Equipment 4
Retail 27 Scaffolds/Other Elevated Work Platforms 34 Chemical and Biological Substance 4
Ag 12 Excavations 28 Failure to comply Orders 3
Mines 7 Machines, Tools and Robots 23 Work in the Vicinity of Overhead Electrical Lines 2
Public Admin 5 Asbestos 12 Powered Mobile Equipment 2
Education 5 Demolition 11 Working Alone or in Isolation 1
Transportation 3 Cranes and Hoists 11 Harassment 1
Health Care 3 Electrical Safety 9 Ground Conditions 1
Other 2 Entrances, Exits, Stairways and Ladders 8 Fire and Explosive Hazards - Hot Work 1
Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic 5 Blasting Operations 1
Duties of Employers/PC 5 Air Quality and Ventilation 1 1


Reference MR W201/02 53(1) An Administrative Penalty to a maximum of $5000 may be issued to a company / person when they have:

  1. Failed to comply with an improvement order by the due date OR failed to maintain compliance after initially complying.
  2. Failed to comply with the provisions of the Act or Regulations and a safety and health officer is of the opinion that the failure involves, or is likely to involve, an imminent risk of serious physical or health injury to a worker or other person.
  3. Resumed an activity that previously was the subject of a stop work order which was discontinued because the person had complied with it.

Manufacturing Chemical & biological substances $1,000
Manufacturing Chemical & biological substances $2,500
Construction Failure to comply – Fall protection systems $2,500
Manufacturing Failure to maintain compliance – Machine Guarding $2,500
Retail and Services Failure to maintain compliance with IO $1,000
Construction Fall Protection $2,500
Construction Fall Protection $2,500
Construction Fall Protection $2,500
Retail and Services Fall Protection $2,500
Construction Fall Protection - Guardrail Systems $2,500
Manufacturing SWP – Lock out – Safety Precautions. $2,500


Reference MR W201/02 54/55 A penalty may be issued to very person who:

  1. Contravenes the Act or regulations.
  2. Fails to comply with an order made under the Act or regulations.
  3. Knowingly obstructs or makes a false statement to a safety and health officer.
  4. Knowingly makes or causes to be made a false entry or deletes an entry in any register book, notice or other document to be kept by him/her under the Act or the regulations.
First Offence:

A person guilty of an offence can be fined to a maximum of $250,000 per offence. In the case of a continuing offence to a maximum of $25,000 for each day during which the offence continues.

Second Offence:

A person guilty of a second offence can be fined to a maximum of $500,000 per offence. In the case of a continuing offence to a maximum of $50,000 for each day during which the offence continues.

In addition, a person can be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months.

Mining $124,000 Eyewash facilities Permanent eye injury
Manufacturing $57,500 Machine Guarding Amputation of all 5 digits on his left hand
Manufacturing $54,252 Machine Guarding
Failing to notify of a serious incident
18 yr old - amputations of his left middle and index fingers and crushing injuries to his left ring finger
Manufacturing $27,650 Machine Guarding Lacerations to the worker’s index and ring fingers and the partial amputation of the worker’s middle finger
Manufacturing $87,500 Hydraulic energy (Lockout) Crushed - Fatality
Manufacturing $10,075 Failing to notify of a serious incident Serious Injury from exploded barrel
Education $31,000 Machine Guarding High School Student – Hand Injury
Construction $4,000 Hazard Assessment - Excavation 2 Hydro workers and home owner injured. 2 homes destroyed
Construction $5,000 Scaffold collapse Serious Injures from 9 ft fall – scaffold collapse
TOTAL $400,977

In most every instance, human behavior including how people think and act (skill, habits, choices etc) are a major contributing factor to unsafe conditions and serious incidents. Establishing a strong safety management system is required to change behaviours. It consists of:

  1. Setting clear standards in writing – must be practical and meaningful.
  2. Training employee on the standards – must connect their head to their heart (Whats in in for ME).
  3. Holding employees accountable to the standards – because you care enough to confront and hold people to a higher standard of care from themselves, others and the company itself.

The Latest Mobile Safety App Strengthens Your Safety Management System

Safety Management System Elements

A Safety Management System is a form of quality assurance where there is clear accountability for safety outcomes.

It is a formal documented system where operations are defined by written procedures and standardized practices. An effective Safety Management System is SIMPLE, but not necessarily easy. It involves:

  • Setting clear standards. Establishing meaningful policies and procedures with the involvement of workers.
  • Training people on the standards in a way that emphasises “what’s in it for me”.
  • Holding people accountable to the standards. Everyone must be held accountable, regardless of position or rank, with tough love.

It is a common complaint to hear that standards are not followed for such things as Incident Reporting, Hazard Assessments, Inspections, New Worker Orientations and more. As a result documentation is substandard, critical information is not clear and due diligence is weak. Sound familiar?


Just like the hazard control process, an effective solution is to eliminate the problem. mySafetyApp has been created for those responsible for Safety to be able to create their specific standards for critical Safety Management System components like Inspections, Hazard Assessments, Incident Reporting and more on a simple to use web based platform.

Once created, standards and the corresponding forms are pushed to employee’s mobile devices where they must be followed exactly in order to be completed and submitted. Managers and safety coordinators can see in real time complete with photos what’s happening on the job site. In addition, hazard notifications are share with responsible people immediately with priority ranking. The chasing of signatures and paperwork is eliminated and time and money are saved. Peace of mind and better control of an effective Safety Management System is achieved.

Introductory savings of 50% on mySafetyApp lasts until April 30th


For a free no obligation demo register today!


Or contact your friendly 1Life Safety Consultants at 204-231-5433. We’d love to hear from you and discuss how we can help!



Theo is a powerful communicator, making complex subjects understandable.

Chris Mussell
Production Manager, Paramount Windows