NSCC carries flag for workplace safety

Christopher Gooding
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Springhill campus celebrates 18th year championing safety

SPRINGHILL – The times are changing, but maybe not fast enough.

The North American Occupational Safety and Health flag was raised over the Cumberland Campus in Springhill for the eighteenth year at the Nova Scotia Community College with (from right) Graham Allen, Tom Leblanc, Don McCormack, Max Snow and Keith Hunter watching on as NSCC’s Jeff Harrison handled flag-raising duties.

For the eighteenth consecutive year, the Nova Scotia Community College’s Cumberland Campus helped kick-off the North American Occupational Safety and Health, giving students and faculty pause from class time to focus on work place safety before graduation enters them into the labour force.

“We must keep improving. There is no acceptable number of workplace injuries. One is too many,” Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter said Monday at the Springhill campus. I encourage today’s attendees to go back and encourage employers and employees about workplace safety.”

Occupational health and safety is now an international phenomenon, with many workplaces establishing news standards and committees to ensure employee safety is at the forefront of the workplace. There was a time, however, when that wasn’t so.

“I can think back to when I was their age [the students] and remember there was nothing at all. Just don’t slip or hurt yourself and do your job,” Springhill Mayor Max Snow said.

That culture has changed, and occupational safety should be as automatic as some of our other daily routines, says Dept. of Labour’s Tom Leblanc.

“I like to think we should make it a value. You get up, brush your teeth; get in a car, put on your seatbelt. That’s part of our culture. Putting on a helmet, wearing safety glasses – it has to be the same thing. Automatic.”

Changing a culture, Leblanc said, begins with the students, who will teach their workplaces the new way of thinking. It might seem a bottom-up strategy for employment, but Leblanc says his department is behind the students when it comes to teaching the old guard the right way to be safe on the job.

“If you think what they’re asking is unsafe and say ‘you do it or you’re out the door,’ then you call us. We would make them hire you back, get all the money you would’ve lost and get your job back with the same responsibilities.”

NAOSH Week was first launched in June 1997, marked by an agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Last year there 34 on-the-job deaths in Nova Scotia.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, North American

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Mexico Nova Scotia

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