By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – The next time you see a group of County workers standing on the side of the road chatting, chances are you are not witnessing idle hands or another county coffee break. You may well be witnessing a pre-work safety meeting, something that has become an increasingly important component of working for the County.
An annual health and safety report compiled by Sturgeon County human resources staff and presented to County Council Tuesday morning shows Sturgeon County is a safe place to work. Part of that level of safety is due to regular safety meetings.
“Sturgeon County’s efforts at safety are paying off,” Interim Chief Administrative Officer Peter Tarnawsky told councillors Tuesday morning, adding the evolution of the County’s safety program and the diligence of staff in implementing it has led to positive results and savings to the organization. “It is a core value for the County and something the staff is taking very seriously.”
In addition to impacting staff moral and teamwork, Tarnawsky explained the County’s safety program is also impacting the bottom line, resulting in $61,000 in Workers Compensation Board (WCB) premiums for 2012. Those savings will be reinvested into safety and other programs.
Lost Time Claims in 2011 are estimated at 0.46 (number of lost time claim hours /total person years) and is an improvement over the County’s 2010 performance of 1.85. The industry average for Municipal Districts and Counties is 1.90, the provincial average is 1.41.
The County had 67 safety-related incidents in 2011, down from the 80 reported in 2010. Near misses were also down considerably from the 32 reported in 2010 to only 18 in 2011.
Tarnawsky is confident those numbers will continue to be low in future years and credited a group effort across all departments in implementing the program as the key to the County’s safety success. “I think our health and safety is something that goes beyond the people who work on it each day,” the CAO said, adding it extends to all mangers, staff and council as well.
Councillor Tom Flynn was particularly pleased with the report. “It’s far more significant than we think it is,” Flynn said, adding the savings to County finances was important but not the most important thing. “The biggest thing is the safety of the individuals working here.”
As of November, 2011 Sturgeon County reported 229 employees with 174 of those being considered full time equivalent positions.