Young Safety Champions Build Strong Workplace Safety Culture
Young safety champions are essential to creating an exemplary safety culture in the ski industry and other tourism and hospitality sectors that employ young workers.
That’s why go2HR, in collaboration with the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA), launched the Young Safety Mogul Award in 2020. It recognizes the vital role young supervisors/leaders can play in influencing their peers and promoting health and safety. As Arun Subramanian, the director of industry health and safety at go2HR maintains, “in an industry that has a high representation of youth in the workforce, it is really critical that staff have role models from their peer group who they can emulate. We hope this award will go some way in recognizing strong safety champions and in creating those role models”.
Emily Maki (nee Duhaime) of Fernie Alpine Resort was chosen as the first-ever recipient of the award for industry employees 30 and younger.
“Safety is a culture where everyone has to buy in,” says Maki, lift operations and ticket checking supervisor at Fernie Alpine Resort. “We want to be able to go home and sleep at night knowing our employees are taken care of.”
Her passion, knowledge and casual demeanour has made her the “go to” person for health and safety at Fernie. She’s able to influence peers at all levels within the organization. “I like to tell people the ‘why’,” she says. “Once you tell people the ‘why’ it becomes internal to them and they get it.”
Maki serves on the resort’s joint occupational health and safety committee. She’s also Fernie Alpine’s Certificate of Recognition program internal auditor.
Safety is ‘thread that ties everything together’
go2HR’s Young Safety Mogul Award also acknowledged two strong finalists in 2020.
Katherine Seleski, manager of Pass Powderkeg Ski Area in the Crowsnest Pass region, calls safety “the thread that ties everything together.” From worker orientation and continuing through training and supervision, she promotes a safety mindset – “the culture rather than the policy,” she explains. “People can ignore policy without the culture to emphasise it.”
Seleski implemented new initiatives such as pre-shift stretching for staff to reduce the risk of injury. She strongly advocates for mental wellness in her workplace. “Compassion is so important,” she says. “This can be a stressful job.”
Fellow finalist Jessica Crick, safety coordinator at Silver Star Mountain, was nominated for her commitment, enthusiasm and ability to influence her peers. She’s responsible for the resort’s injury management and return to work programs, as well as training and COR auditing.
“I work with a lot of injury statistics for employees and guests, looking at what we can change,” she says. One result was the introduction of new mats with better grips for all the lifts, reducing the risk of slips and falls.
Young leaders influence their peers
Maki, Seleski and Crick all agree that a successful safety culture requires buy-in from all levels of an organization. Each quickly credit their employers and fellow supervisors for supporting their work. “They make it important,” Maki says of the Fernie management team.
The 2020 go2HR Young Safety Mogul Award nominees also agree on another point: young people play a critical role in championing safety in any industry with young workers. “I’m essentially the same age as many of them,” Crick says of her Silver Star colleagues. “I take safety seriously and they see that.”
To learn more about go2HR’s 2021 Young Safety Mogul Award and to nominate a young leader in the ski industry, click here.
go2HR, in partnership with CWSAA, offers a variety of free ski sector occupational health and safety resources.