Writing songs about the unsung heroes: 2023 OHS Honours
Health & Safety OHS Honours
It has been an incredible couple of weeks behind the editor’s desk at OHS Canada.
August and September are amongst the busiest periods for us as we sift through the nominations that pour in for OHS Honours and the Top 25 Under 40. It’s humbling to be able to craft and tell the stories of these professionals and organizations.
The stories we uncovered are powerful and moving, the best practices we’re shining a spotlight on can make a difference in any organization, and the people doing the work are — without exception — some of the nicest people you could ever meet.
The programs being run are thoughtful and sophisticated. There wasn’t just a spike in the quantity of entries, but also the quality.
“It was for sure a difficult process,” said Maureen Shaw, one of this year’s judges and a member of the OHS Canada Hall of Fame. “Pleased to see so many working to be the best!” A big thanks to her, and the other judges — Shelagh Robinson; Sherry Novak; Tara Beaton; Bill Howatt; and Tammi Smith.
Some of the most powerful stories are rooted in personal tragedy. Shirley Hickman, who founded Threads of Life, turned the loss of her son Tim into a movement that has helped untold families cope with unbearable loss.
“We cried together on the phone and we laughed together on the phone,” she said, discussing one of the first times she spoke to a widow who lost her husband. Hickman was inducted into the OHS Hall of Fame this year in probably one of the easiest calls our judges had to make.
Maryanne Pope was awarded the Community Leader Award for her work at the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF). John, her husband, was a Calgary cop who was killed while responding to a breakand-enter call at a warehouse.
He fell through a false ceiling that wasn’t properly marked off, leading to a charge by Pope to raise awareness and get employers to answer this question:
“How safe is your workplace for emergency responders?” Satnam (Sam) Chauhan, another 2023 Hall of Fame inductee, waxes so eloquently and passionately about the work he’s done, both at the City of Surrey and in the wider community across British Columbia.
Our OHS Professional of the Year, Niclas Eduardo Manson, is also on the Top 25 Under 40 list. I’ll be honest — it’s not a scenario we expected to see play out, and we had to check the fine print to see if anything prevented a double-winner like him. It was silent.
When you read about the work he did at the Toronto Public Library, especially in getting a new position created to ensure safety with the unique challenges that open buildings have, it’s no surprise to see him on both lists. Manson has an incredibly bright future in safety.
I can’t recount all the moments that gave me gratitude while putting this issue together. Keep this issue. Refer to it. (You can find the digital edition here: https://mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=803777) These stories of triumph and tenacity are a toolkit for improvement, a catalogue of best practices, and a source of inspiration for the tougher days in OHS.
The ultimate aim of OHS Canada, and OHS Honours, is not to just recognize and celebrate excellence, but to encourage it in every corner of the workplace.
Congratulations to all this year’s winners. We’re proud to tell your story.