I Believe in Mission: Zero


Embracing the Safety Journey

Deciding to stay safe doesn’t mean all incidents end immediately.

The decision sets the intention for your path ahead. It is the start of a journey. Choosing the journey means embracing the learning along the way.

Tony de Sousa’s journey has brought him to Regina. The VP of Saskatchewan has worked for Finning Canada for almost 40 years.

Finning has been in the province less than a year, but has already signed a strategic partnership agreement with Safe Saskatchewan.

Tony de Sousa with Gord Moker of Safe Saskatchewan.
Tony de Sousa with Gord Moker of Safe Saskatchewan.

“Safety is core to everything we do as an organization. It comes before anything else,” said Tony.

“We want to continue with the safety journey we started on the very first day that we acquired the business in Saskatchewan.”

“When we were awarded the Caterpillar distribution rights for Saskatchewan, our number one priority was around safety,” said Tony.

“We spent half of our energy planning around safety. How do we introduce our safety culture in the right way so that it is accepted by the folks we are welcoming to Finning?”

Change can be uncomfortable. While the senior leadership of Finning is excited to be part of the province, it knew that making adjustments can introduce challenges.

Tony recalls a policy introduced ten years ago by Finning to ban cellphones while driving. Not even hands-free conversations behind the wheel were considered acceptable. Some employees travel for their work, but they were expected to pull over before engaging with their devices.

“That was very challenging and unique in the industry, but we made a commitment that it was the right thing to do to keep our people safe,” said de Sousa.

So, while change can be challenging, challenges can be overcome. Tony believes transitioning a culture requires its leadership to embrace the change required.

“To be a true safety leader, we have to set the tone from the top. If you don’t have that culture, you won’t be world class in safety,” said Tony.

“You have to provide the right resources and funding in people and in training. You can’t just talk about it.”

Employees are empowered to take responsibility for their own safety as well as their co-workers’. Employees in the Finning customer support centre check to see that co-workers who are working alone are safe or those who are traveling have arrived at their destinations. Employees know they can refuse work they feel is unsafe and discussions are had to find ways that avoids harm.

Taking responsibility for safety is a value the company’s leadership holds across its establishments dotting the world.

“Our message is that we’ve always been safety-centric, but safety-centric means different things to different folks,” said Tony.

“You can reach certain plateaus and become comfortable.”

Growth can be encouraged when you have connections to other operations. Finning is an international company. Canadian operations have an opportunity, for example, to gain perspectives from operations in South America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the total recordable incident frequency is even lower than at Finning Canada. The success in one area can illustrate what more is possible for others. Tony says this promotes continued learning and improvements.

Not all the learning is because of positive developments. If an injury occurs, the incident is reviewed and discussed by those involved right up to senior and executive leadership.

“We can learn from that experience and make sure we communicate it with the rest of our team as well as globally.”

Now, Finning’s safety journey has begun in Saskatchewan. While Tony introduces Finning’s safety culture, he also wants to learn from others in the province. Others’ experience and insight has value he is eager to see shared. It’s an important part of why he signed the strategic partnership agreement.

“We want to be part of the fabric of Saskatchewan, not just to do business, but to be part of community,” said Tony.

He welcomed Finning’s board of directors to the community when they held meetings in Regina. It was their opportunity to see how the transition in Saskatchewan is proceeding.

“Our board was impressed at how the employees have adopted and accepted our safety message,” said Tony.

“I’m very happy with the way the folks in our business in Saskatchewan have adapted to our safety culture.”

“They truly believe that Finning is committed to their wellbeing and to getting them home safe at the end of every shift and the end of every day.”

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