July 24, 2017

Every Worker Should Go Home Safe: Steve Horvath, CEO CCOHS

“I have a personal belief that every worker should go home safe and healthy at the end of the day,” said Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Mr. Horvath believes that it begins with the workplace culture.  “Safety should be part and parcel of [your] whole business plan.”

He emphasizes the importance of a workplace safety culture because “we’re living longer, we’re working longer…. The older workers always see the younger generation as, well, they never want to do it the way its supposed to be done. The younger workers say the older generation they never want to listen and change.” A strong workplace culture, based on the central belief of “every worker should go home safe and healthy” is important.

In a helpful video, he talks about how to establish and maintain a culture of prevention in a workplace. “The behavior of the employees is one of the critical aspects in safety. Much of that has to do with the training,” said Mr. Horvath. “There’s been a lot of compelling evidence … that the leader, basically, influences a lot of the culture within the workplace. That is, the workplace takes on the values of its leader.”

He emphasizes the importance of a consistent message within a workplace. He speaks also, about the worker’s attitude. “They have to assume that message,” he said, “and look at it from an individual standpoint. That is, I have to look after my own safety as well. I have to use the tools that are being provided. But I also have to look out for my fellow workers.”

Looking out for “everybody” is why he speaks about a “culture for safety” within an organization. He emphasizes the importance taking on these values of also “looking after everybody else.”

Failure isn’t an option. “There’s a huge sense of frustration when there’s some tragedy. Anytime when there’s even a single fatality,” Mr. Horvath said, “there’s a sense of failure within organizations such as ours.”

The bottom line, he says, “I am firmly convinced all accidents are preventable.”