Safety at the workplace had always been a priority for staff at International Road Dynamics (IRD).
Nothing like it is today, however.
The company reapplied its dedication to safe practices and incorporated an inclusive, hands-on approach after one of its own was killed and another permanently injured at a worksite more than a decade ago.
“We certainly looked at safety differently,” noted Sharon Parker, the vice-president of corporate resources at IRD in Saskatoon. “Our safety program was in place, but it certainly wasn’t as structured as it is now.”
IRD made a formal commitment to safety in 2015 when it signed Safe Saskatchewan’s Heath and Safety Leadership Charter, an agreement to help form a foundation for a cultural shift in how Saskatchewan business leaders approach injury prevention. The Charter advocates for the continuous improvement of healthy and safe workplaces and communities.
The belief that all workplace injuries are predictable and preventable brought IRD to adopt Safe Saskatchewan’s goal of Mission: Zero, a belief that the only acceptable number of injuries at work, at home and at play is zero.
By adopting Mission: Zero, the safety goal at IRD changed.
“At first, we didn’t want to have more than four recordable accidents… and some of the manufacturing employees said that it would conflict with our Mission Zero statement, so we changed our goal to zero,” said Kevin Yaganiski, IRD’s quality and safety manager. “That’s our corporate goal and it makes sense.”
It also meant more transparency with safety information was needed. Mission: Zero posters and buttons were visible around the IRD office and in the manufacturing department. Safety inspections became a weekly event, as did engaging employees through random questions of how they contribute to Mission: Zero.
Monthly reports of near misses or potential safety hazards in and around the building became commonplace.
All of this was made in an effort to make workplace safety top of mind.
“Awareness and talking about things is the root of our safety program,” Parker said. “We talk, we send emails to staff, we promote it… we hand out gift cards to people who correctly answer questions about recognizing safety.”
“We want people to want to do it rather than feeling they have to do it,” Yaganiski added. “People have adopted that attitude where they want to be involved in safety.
“People feel more comfortable reporting incidents now. Back in the day, people thought they could get into trouble if they reported something or they wouldn’t be up for an award, something like that. But we’re definitely seeing a lot more people reporting safety risks. I feel there’s more awareness now, more involvement.”
The occupational health and safety committee is inclusive and sees participation from each department at IRD. Should an accident happen, Yaganiski will conduct a full investigation. He’ll gather information from various sources, including from a behavioral-based questionnaire found on the back of an incident report paper. These are meant to gauge where an employee’s thought process was at the time of the incident and whether complacency was a cause, among other criteria.
“By gathering that kind of information over the past couple of years we have come up with data that if workers are complacent then they’re going to be putting themselves in the line of fire,” Yaganiski said. “Just because you’ve completed a task 500 times doesn’t mean you can get complacent. It’s that 501st time you do it when something could happen. We want to prevent those things from happening.”
IRD is a traffic technology company that specializes in weigh station bypass systems, weigh-in-motion, toll road systems, bridge monitoring, and traffic data collection. It is an international company with its head office in Saskatoon. It has corporate subsidiaries in the U.S., Chile, Mexico, India and Belgium and partnerships in Brazil and China.
It’s hoping to spread the safety culture globally.