Mediaplanet chatted with Rob Ellis, Founder and President of MySafeWork, who became an outspoken advocate for health, safety, and wellness in the workplace after the death of his son David.
What steps can Canadians take to oppose unsafe work?
Canadians of all generations are letting their voices be heard and are helping to protect all inexperienced, young, newcomer, and vulnerable workers. I’m so proud to see how Canadians have risen to the challenge of making workplaces safer in industries such as construction, mining, transportation, manufacturing, and oil and gas. There’s still much room for improvement in workplace safety as we’re burying 1,000 people per year due to workplace fatalities, but more Canadians are taking personal ownership of their workplace safety, asking tough questions, and challenging the status quo of their safety culture. It’s very encouraging to see this amazing transition in every community in Canada.
How can young Canadians take an active role in promoting workplace safety?
We’re incredibly excited about how both young and experienced Canadian workers have helped create strong momentum for safety. MySafeWork introduced the Jersey of Courage to all organizations and schools seven years ago. We ask Canadians to make a commitment to be courageous each day and to improve the safety of their workplaces, communities, and families. We now have more than one million signatures on thousands of jerseys including from presidents, CEOs, premiers, and the Prime Minister of Canada. When Canadians are challenged to improve their safety culture and save lives, they rise up and make a real difference in the future of our nation. Our future is brighter in Canada!
Tell us about how your not-for-profit and charity, MySafeWork, came to be.
MySafeWork/Our Youth at Work Association was created in 2000 after the devastating loss of our 18-year-old son David, who lost his life while working in a small local business. David didn’t receive adequate training or orientation and was left alone on the second day of his job. He was pulled into a large industrial mixer that had no safety guards or lockouts. David would have wanted our family to protect the next generation of leaders in Canada. Each year, we speak to more than 100,000 students and adults in our Courageous broadcast on the Day of Mourning. It’s important that our next generation of leaders understand why we pause each year to respect those who have lost their lives in the workplace.
What is MySafeWork doing to help Canadian employers create a safer workplace culture?
MySafeWork invites corporate, union, and government leaders to meet with audiences of 500 to 2,000 students at high schools, colleges of skilled trades, and university engineering faculties. The audiences engage in open Q&A periods with 40 or 50 corporate leaders. The next generation of leaders is asking very direct and honest questions. There’s a focus on areas such as communication, mental stress, diversity, safety culture, and leadership integrity. The exchange of knowledge is exciting and a life-changing experience for both generations. Business leaders across Canada are now taking this feedback and creating stronger safety cultures. Leaders are seeing the importance of attracting young workers to safe workplace environments.
Learn more at mysafework.com.