Past Winners

Nova Scotia leaders in workplace safety are recognized for their positive contribution to the province’s safety culture with the annual Mainstay Awards.

The Mainstay Awards, sponsored by the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, celebrate excellence in occupational health and safety, injury prevention and return-to-work programs.

Click the category below to reveal the 2016 winner:

Safety Award of Excellence, Organization

Winner: Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has established itself as a leader and change agent for occupational health and safety - exhibiting dedication, courage, financial resources, commitment, and most of all, leadership to ensure its employees go home safe and healthy to their families after each work day.

The Department adopted a serious approach to the Government’s Workplace Safety Strategy and saw it as an opportunity to not only improve Occupational Health, Safety and Environment (OHSE) within the Department, but to also become the OHSE leader for all NS provincial government departments.

First, they launched a one-year OHSE Evaluability Assessment that evolved into a comprehensive OHSE Compliance Audit. The department recognized the importance of employee and union communication and collaboration to ensure a successful outcome.

Further, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal understood the importance of developing and maintaining a Health, Safety and Environment Program that is current, compliant, informative and, most important, collaborative.

Following the OHSE Compliance Audits, approximately 90 OHSE Strategic, Operational and Administrative recommendations were submitted to the Department’s Executive Management Team.

Immediately, this team, without hesitation or reservation, adopted every recommendation, including the establishment of a fully operational and independent OHSE Division within the Department. This is the only division of its kind in this province – or in any other Canadian province for that matter.

Through leadership and commitment to OHSE, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has seen the number of regulatory compliance orders for violations decrease by upwards of 80 per cent, if not higher. No administrative penalties have been levied against the Department since 2012, when the OHSE improvements first began.

A phenomenal transformation and an inspiration for organizations not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.

Safety Award of Excellence, Individual

Winner: Paul Midgley, Lindsay Construction

When responding to the call for nominations for the Safety Award of Excellence for an individual, Paul’s colleagues gave great insight into what makes him such a phenomenal safety leader.

They told us that Paul’s motto for Lindsay’s Safety Department is “boots to the ground” – that being out at the sites and being visible is key to having people trust you and trust what you say and do.

Paul leads the Safety Department by example – being hands-on in the delivery of the safety program and mentoring and supporting employees. Paul’s mentoring and leadership goes well beyond Lindsay Construction. Paul continuously volunteers to share his knowledge and experience with others in the industry, one example being with the “Building Future’s for Youth” program developed by the Construction Association of Nova Scotia.

Paul contributes his experience and knowledge to the development of training materials and activities that are used to help students foster a strong safety attitude in their approach to tasks at school, at home and in the community.

Health and Safety Educator

Winner:Jessica King, Delta Barrington Hotel

Over the last three and a half years Jessica King held the role of Chair of the Health and Safety Wellness Committee at the Delta Barrington Hotel in Halifax. With dedication and passion, Jessica implemented a variety of initiatives and programs at the hotel – one of which being the annual Health, Wellness and Safety Fair.

The hospitality industry has traditionally experienced more turnover than other sectors – particularly as employment levels fluctuate during peak season. For Jessica, this meant a continual journey of educating young and new workers in seasonal employment roles – making sure training and communication in each department is consistent throughout the hotel.

Jessica’s work extended outside the four walls of the Delta Barrington – providing supports and resources to their sister hotel the Delta Halifax, and sharing her expertise with other hotels throughout the city through the local Hospitality Human Resources Committee.

Jessica is now working as Human Resources Generalist at Cherubini Metal Works Limited.

Special Award for Small Business

Winner: Journeyman Film Company

Inspired by a job they took on with a major energy sector client in British Columbia that had a “goal zero” workplace health and safety policy, Journeyman Film Company realized they needed to change their own safety culture.

Establishing a set of Health and Safety Policies and Procedures – they created a plan that involved training their entire staff on the policies and procedures, establishing risk assessment and management protocols before and after film shoots, increased training for staff in areas such as first aid, advanced driver training and fall arrest, and instituting regular film-shoot safety debriefs.

The result has been a significant shift in how Journeyman Film employees prioritize safety day-in and day-out. On each film shoot, each crew member has safety top-of-mind and when a quick decision needs to be made, its safety that jumps up first, not the creative impulse of a shoot.

Individual Safety Champion

Winner - Cape Breton: Sabrina Vatcher, New Dawn Homecare

Sabrina began her role as General Manager of the Healthcare Division at New Dawn Homecare in December of 2010, shortly after the organization was issued five orders by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s Occupational Health and Safety Division. New Dawn Homecare describes this as a wake-up call, and a pivotal turning point for the organization.

Sabrina’s first priority was addressing the five orders – pulling together a team of workplace safety consultants that included representatives from WCB Nova Scotia and Labour and Advanced Education. Their advice and expertise was invaluable, and within 90 days of Sabrina starting with New Dawn, she led her JOHS Committee in meeting all the orders and developing a new Occupational Health and Safety plan with direct input from employees across the organization.

Sabrina’s leadership and determination in workplace safety has not only made a difference in the lives of employees and clients of New Dawn Homecare – but have reached far beyond.

In the years since her start at New Dawn Homecare, Sabrina has become a spokesperson for workplace health and safety, sharing her experience and advice with a number of other organizations and at various events and symposiums.

Winner - Central/North Shore: Barry Bowman, Oxford Frozen Foods

The team at Oxford Frozen Foods describe Barry Bowman as an exceptional leader with a gift for being able to communicate with his peers, and relay health and safety information in an engaging way.

Barry’s leadership is evident in a number of examples – whether it be designing and delivering an entire forklift training program, complete with written exams, or offering fall protection workshops on a regular basis. He is also responsible for developing a video series on farm safety, which he shot and edited himself.

Barry shines as a safety professional in his ability to bridge gaps and get employees excited and engaged in their workplace safety. Barry’s ability to reach people is the chief reason employees now view him as the safety person to go to when they have questions or concerns.

Winner - Halifax: Joe LeBlanc, Commissionaires of Nova Scotia

Joe LeBlanc is the Safety and ISO Manager for Commissionaires Nova Scotia. Since joining the organization in 2014, Joe has built-on and improved the safety culture across 200 worksites with over 1700 employees.>

Joe’s immediate concern is safety in the workplace and the prevention of incidents. If an injury occurs, Joe reaches out to the employee to make sure they remain connected with their workplace.

The return to work program, as managed by Joe, keeps employees engaged and on-track to make a healthy return to their job while also significantly reducing lost-time hours and workers’ compensation premiums. In 2014, under Joe’s leadership, Commissionaires Nova Scotia saw a 594 day reduction in lost time days.

Employer Safety Champions

Winner - Cape Breton: New Dawn Homecare

New Dawn Homecare has made substantial progress with their workplace health and safety program over the past six years

In 2010, after receiving five orders from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s Occupational Health and Safety Division, the leadership team acknowledged that significant changes needed to be made in how they prioritized safety as a business – and that those changes needed to start at the top.

Thanks to the resources, guidance and determination of the organization, the orders were met within a few months, and a commitment and investment was made by New Dawn Homecare to shift their team’s focus on making safety the most important aspect of their jobs.

New Dawn Homecare has invested in its employees by compensating them for staff meetings and formal safety training as well as supplying employees with PPEs and First Aid kits. They also provide a phone line that is staffed 24 hours per day where employees can talk to a live person with questions, concerns or to report an incident.

New Dawn Homecare’s OH&S program is now the model for all New Dawn Enterprise companies. As a result of the detailed work completed by New Dawn Homecare and its JOSH Committee – which include materials, policies and procedures – expertise is now being shared throughout the whole organization.

Winner - Halifax: EllisDon Corporation

EllisDon believes that their safety program and reputation is one of the reasons they are within the top five companies on the list for the 50 Best Employers in Canada.

Constantly challenging their safety policies, manual, practices and procedures with new thinking and initiatives – EllisDon upholds a personal commitment to their zero tolerance safety program.

EllisDon continues to hold a zero serious accident rating and a 100 per cent rating with their annual audit.

Employer Return-to-Work Champions

Winner: Nova Scotia Power

Nova Scotia Power believes that all workplace injuries are preventable, that health and safety must be an essential component of every job, and that planning, equipment and appropriate personal behaviour will yield workplace conditions that are accident free.

In 2014, Nova Scotia Power began formalizing their Stay at Work/Return to Work Program. This was a collaborative process that involved input from employees, management, union, HR, and the Health and Wellness Department.

Since launching the new program, Nova Scotia Power has seen a significant decrease in treatment wait times, claims costs (the lowest since 2012), decreased overall number of injuries and a four per cent increase in overall satisfaction with the programs provided by Health & Wellness when compared to 2014.

Safety Transformation Award

Winner: Oxford Frozen Foods Limited

Oxford Frozen Foods Limited has been formalizing its Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program since 2007.

One of the challenges has been to bring standardization to eight facilities and two farming groups spread across Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. And yet, the organization has had many successes in striving towards this goal.

The organization’s dedication to occupational health and safety takes on many forms including:

  • A series of farms safety videos on a variety of topics such as the safe operation of several types of tractors and farm implements;
  • A lockout-tagout program for their blueberry harvesters; and
  • Developing unique programs on hazard assessment and protection.

Oxford Frozen Foods is a firm believer in giving back to the communities where they operate. They are very proud of bringing the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program for grade four students to Nova Scotia, Maine and PEI as well as being the first private company to introduce the program in New Brunswick.

Since their first Safety Day in 2011 for just one school, they have expanded to six separate Safety Days, including 70 schools and approximately 3400 students.