Health and safety have always been priorities for team members at the Pacific Gateway Hotel, and now they have the prize to prove it.
The hotel, near Vancouver Airport, has won the 2015 North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) Week award in the tourism and hospitality category — on their very first try.
“This was the first year we entered and we were quite surprised that we won,” says the then Pacific Gateway’s Human Resources Coordinator, Nancy Mak.
The NAOSH Week, which runs the first week of May every year, is a continent-wide event where employers, team members and other stakeholders work together to promote workplace wellness and injury prevention.
“We’ve held a one-day health and safety fair for many years, but this year we decided to enter the week-long event to show that we are really committed to health and safety,” says Mak.
And it was a week to remember, with daily events ranging from an earthquake awareness talk to a shoreline cleanup, a retirement planning workshop, and a self-defence seminar.
“We also ran a ‘What’s Wrong with This Photo’ contest where team members created worst case safety scenarios and posed for photos. It was fun, but it was also a very effective way to remind people about workplace hazards,” adds Mak.
Friday was the big event, with team members, their families, friends, and over a dozen vendors, ranging from the Canadian Diabetic Association to the Richmond Fire Department, gathering in the hotel ballroom for the hotel’s annual Family Health and Wellness Fair. Every team member, whether on duty or not, was invited to bring their family, visit the booths, and enjoy a healthy salmon and salad lunch.
Altogether about 240 team members participated in at least part of the hotel’s NAOSH week, with many coming in on their days off to attend various events.
The benefits have lasted year round, says Mak. “The NAOSH week events really increased awareness of health and safety, not only at work but at home as well. And we learned a lot too – everything from what to watch for if team members are depressed or anxious to the fact that Costco offers free hearing tests for members. A lot of what we learned has helped with our participation and goal of continual improvement in the Certificate of Recognition (COR) Program and, of course, the week has helped make the hotel a safer place for team members and guests.
Her advice to others? “Ask your team members what they are concerned about and what they want to learn. Our Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) was a valuable resource; they asked their co-workers what they wanted to see during the week and they also did a great job of promoting the events within their departments,” says Mak.
Trina Pollard, Manager, Industry Health & Safety at go2HR, also sees a lot of benefits to taking part: “Participating in NAOSH Week is a great way to strengthen your occupational health and safety (OHS) program, engage and inspire your team in creating and improving a healthy and safe workplace, and get recognized for your achievements. It’s also a good step towards cultural change: NAOSH Week is just one week, but it inspires health and safety awareness for the rest of the year.”
“There are a number of organizations that do a great job promoting safety and health in the workplace and I congratulate the Pacific Gateway Hotel on being one of them. The hotel’s participation in not only NAOSH Week, but also their certification in the COR Program, illustrates that they are champions in OHS. I’m confident that their commitment to OHS will continue to inspire other organizations in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry,” she adds.
“It’s definitely worth doing,” says Mak. “It can involve some planning, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s a lot of fun and is an effective way to engage your team members in safety.”