The Westin Bayshore was one of the first employers in British Columbia’s hospitality sector to achieve the Certificate of Recognition in 2011. Now that these companies have received their first incentive cheque and are preparing for their Year 2 audit, Westin Bayshore, according to its human resources advisor Andrew Falkenberg, is doing so with an enhanced appreciation for the value of COR.
Without question, he says, the initial audit was a valuable learning process. “It showed us how diligent we need to be in terms of the organization of the data we collect in regard to workplace safety, things such as accident tracking, investigation and training. Since that time, the company has re-evaluated all its health and safety practices, especially training. We have taken action to ensure we have a more compliant and safer workplace.”
A case in point is the hotel’s Return-to-Work program. “We had a program that was corporately defined, but with the COR audit there are very strict guidelines,” says Falkenberg. “We had passed the Return-to-Work aspect in the original audit, but there was room for improvement and we revisited what needed to be done. Now there is a procedure in place that is easy to follow for managers who are ultimately the ones delivering the program.” The company has also seen the merit of having multiple internal auditors. “We are putting more people through the auditor program in an effort to have more than one person on site. An auditor is basically a subject-matter expert so the more of them you have, the more awareness you can create in the workplace.”
In other initiatives, Westin Bayshore has added what Falkenberg calls “time-off awareness” to the one-page summary of the hotel’s activities distributed to its Associates on a daily basis. “We have added a time-off counter so we can track how many days we have gone without a time-off accident, and we have added an incentive that rewards our Associates for consistently safe behaviour. We talk about time-off accidents and incidents at our daily meetings.” Awareness can be a difficult thing to quantify, but Falkenberg can refer to positive statistics. “The biggest measurable we use is the number of actual time-off accidents and the number of days off per accident,” he says. “Year to date, we have had 50 per cent fewer accidents accepted by WCB [WorkSafeBC] than at the same time last year. It’s an indication that people are more aware. Last year we would go 20 days without an accident, and now it’s 40 to 45 days. There’s a culture of awareness, and our Associates are becoming more innovative in their solutions to remove unsafe practices.”
There are further tools and resources offered by go2HR that can assist employers in achieving their health and safety goals. One is a risk assessment tool that Westin helped create with go2HR and other specialists. “It’s instrumental in determining risk and what we need to focus safety training around, making sure that the risk is addressed, and that the people operating in that job know how to work and use equipment properly. It’s part of the audit to show that you have something in place to determine risks, that you can pinpoint the high-hazard potential in certain jobs.” Equally useful is the role of go2HR’s Hotel OH&S Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of a dozen hospitality managers who meet monthly to work on projects aimed at reducing or preventing injuries in the workplace. “A lot of the hotels have similar issues. The committee is a resource that lets people meet and say: Have you encountered this problem, and if so how have you dealt with it?”
Although hotels in the same market are fundamentally competitors, “there’s no competition with health and safety,” Falkenberg says. “Consider WorkSafeBC rates. If all workplaces become safer, then the rates go down for the industry as a whole. With health and safety, we’re all on the same page.”