Ground Water Canada

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Editorial: Everyone goes home

There are plenty of reasons to be hyper-diligent about safety but only one reason matters


June 22, 2021
By Colleen Cross


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I remember learning about a fatality in this industry in September 2019 at an association event. It hit the room of contractors, scientists and suppliers hard. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety observes a National Day of Mourning every April 28. It’s a practice established 30 years ago to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy and to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths. The statistics are sobering and worth repeating. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada in 2019: 882 were male workers and 43 were female workers. Among these deaths were 29 young workers aged 15-24. That’s 925 workers who did their jobs and did not go home that night. There were 271,806 claims reported and accepted by the compensation boards that year for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease (up from 264,438 the previous year), including 33,615 from workers aged 15-24. 

Marta Green, of the British Columbia Ground Water Association, delivered two powerful, meaningful safety messages over the past year. In December 2020 during a regional online meeting the senior hydrogeologist at Associated Environmental Consultants in Vernon opened up about how it felt to lose a close friend and geologist in an small aircraft accident that was attributed in part to pilot error. In a very moving talk, Green made a passionate case for never lowering our guard on safety procedures.

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Green gave an engaging talk at the BCGWA’s virtual convention in April about equipment orientation on the business or work site as part of hazard mitigation. She donned alternating consultant and contractor helmets to show opportunities to educate from each point of view. To consultants taking a tour, she recommended asking questions of the contractor: What kind of PPE equipment is important and why do you wear these? Where are the “no-go” zones? 

To contractors, she asked do you know where the consultant is at any given moment? Are they where you want them to be? 

What an interesting, thoughtful take on safety and one I’m sure members will remember. We should all seek out ways to make important safety message meaningful and memorable.

Protecting yourself and your team is reason enough to be hyper-diligent about safety, but there are other compelling reasons to make it a priority: protecting your company’s reputation, avoiding liability and, for that matter, protecting your investment in an employee.

Aardvark Drilling founding partners Matthew England and Darren Juneau, profiled in our cover story in Winter 2015, felt health and safety was important enough to warrant hiring an independent auditor to perform safety audits and provide paperwork and provide peace of mind. This is an option worth considering for those who prefer to spend time behind a drill and not in a sea of paperwork.

Here is another good reason for maintaining an exemplary safety record. It’s an excellent way to attract, snag and retain the best employees. 

I’m sure you can think of more reasons to be safe out there, but there is only one that matters: Everyone Goes Home.