Health and Safety as a Foundational Element of Corporate Culture in 2020


Understanding the importance and impact corporate culture plays in workplace safety can help develop a more positive, efficient and cohesive workplace. In 2018, there were more than 155,000 workplace injury claims nationally which resulted in more than 2.9 million days lost from work. Today the implementation of technology and forward-thinking leadership is drastically changing the organizational structures and operations within businesses. To keep up with these changes, HR practitioners are seeking to improve and modify the foundational elements of corporate culture.

As we move into 2020, many businesses may be considering HR initiatives, such as recruiting a new generation of workers or integrating technology.

However, workplace health and safety needs to be a priority in 2020 HR planning as the unfortunate reality of workplace related injuries continues to be an under-discussed topic among businesses.

Manufacturing and construction are two of the top five occupations with the highest amount of workplace injuries. These can include overexertion, painful contact with objects or equipment and of course slips, trips and falls. Proper training, proactive hazard identification programs and open lines of communication are key in avoiding these common workplace accidents and mitigating businesses against damage to profit margins through loss of employee workdays.

Regardless of the industry, safety needs to be a top priority for Canadian businesses as we continue to see preventable injuries occurring in workplaces. So how can businesses make health and safety a HR priority this year?

Start from Day One

Implementing a mandatory HR orientation which includes safety programs and training for all new and current employees sets the tone for health and safety. Consider an outside of the box orientation program such as a brand blueprint to unveil the corporate vision, mission and values to all employees. Discussing the brand blueprint and how health and safety is an integral part of the company puzzle will embed an in-depth knowledge and consciousness of practices into the core values and spirit of the workplace.

Being Safety Minded

Instill safety habits and behaviours in all that you do, from significant workplace roles to everyday habits. A simple yet effective company practice is the requirement for employees and guests to reverse into their business parking spots to minimize the odds of an on-site collision. Instilling a culture of safety in all that we do, even in day to day roles can make a substantial difference towards ensuring safety is always top of mind. Near miss and accident investigations are critical. After each investigation, recommendations should be made, implemented and followed up with to ensure that the actions have corrected future risks.

Empower “Safety Champions”

There has been more and more evidence of the importance leadership plays in workplace safety. Teams with strong leadership are 17 per cent more likely to report that they are high performing and 20 per cent believe they make high-quality decisions. Corporate culture is only as effective as the team members who support it. From the CEO to every individual employee, health and safety must be a top priority for it to be effective.

In British Columbia, a Joint Health & Safety Committee is mandatory for organizations with 20 or more employees. Having this core team behind not only the implementation, but also the creation of internal health and safety rules creates a foundation for a successful campaign by encouraging employees to weigh-in and be invested in workplace safety culture.

Make Safety a Year-round Priority

Consider participating in national or global initiatives to promote awareness and involvement. North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week, in May each year, is designed to make safety a habit in the workplace. Recognizing the good work your business (and employees) are doing in this area will reinforce the positive messaging behind health and safety in the workplace, while protecting your employees and saving the business from potentially detrimental costs.  SureWerx is just one example of a company that celebrates NAOSH  for the entire month of May. Every year NAOSH consists of contests, learning, safety practices, safety events and we involve our families as safety is to be practices at work, on your way home from work and at home.  Keeping everyone safe should be everyone’s mission.

The bottom line is that every business has the means to be more safety minded and the benefits speak for themselves. However, in the day-to-day reality with numerous conflicting priorities to fulfill it can often be an area that gets overlooked. In 2020, I hope to see more organizations supporting safe and healthy workplace practices on a consistent basis as encouraging open communication and conversations surrounding health and safety in the workplace will be the key to a successful HR campaign in 2020.


Anna-Maria Parente is the Vice President of Human Resources at SureWerx. Learn more at

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