Public Services Health and Safety Association is focused on providing Ontario’s public and broader public sector employers and workers, providing consulting, training and resources to reduce workplace risks and prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. This is no easy task as the landscape is complex and diverse, consisting of over 1.6 million workers and more than 10,000 firms across Education, Healthcare, Emergency Services, Government and First Nations sectors which are the sectors that Public Services Health and Safety Association serves. Healthier and Safer workplaces can only be achieved through collaboration, innovation and knowledge transfer. We believe that by engaging stakeholders we can improve our understanding of what factors indicate compliance risk and where to focus our energies in product and service development. Stakeholders also contribute to strengthening the customer perspective and how we can tailor the end product to best address employers and workers health and safety needs.
The Benefits of Civic Engagement
Providing stakeholders with the opportunity for consultation and contribution can help solidify an organizations overall strategic plan to:
- Transform a business model into action and develop solutions
- Collaborate and structure for growth
- Understand and innovate to better serve the market
PSHSA has benefited from participation of three Advisory Councils to allow for better focus on service and solution strategies. As a result critical, multi-stakeholder projects have been able to address pervasive sector and systemic needs. By taking on a systemic leadership role by engaging stakeholders we can better understand and address common and emerging workplace issues. The plan is to continue leveraging insights from Advisory Councils to expand access and target solutions.
Within the Municipal, Government and Public Safety sector involvement with Section 21 committees is another example of civic partnership that can result in validating product development, marketing and establishing service priorities. Section 21 guidance is intended to assist sector stakeholders with Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements and promoting “recommended practices” for Fire, Police and Paramedics to protect them from specific health and safety risks encountered by Emergency Services personnel. Working with Section 21 committees for the emergency services sectors has allowed for improved assessments of status of health and safety program, culture and climate, values and decision making.
Affiliate programs and partnerships are yet another way to demonstrate and build collaboration especially in areas of emerging health and safety issues and for small businesses or remote offices in order to develop effective solutions. PSHSA’s affiliate program makes health and safety resources easily accessible by providing access at the association level. This simplifies access to information and reduces dependency on unreliable sources or expensive alternatives. The affiliate program is a benefit to Associations who represent your target audience interests and provide a channel to communicate health and safety information to members. Access to free products and information can be provided to association members that may otherwise have been difficult for leadership and workers to obtain. Partnerships allow for efficiencies through capacity to increase reach, revenue and both leadership of and participation in collaborative projects.
Engaging Boards and Voting Members for Planning and Governance
Having principles founded on openness, transparency and collaboration build strong accountability frameworks. It is important to build effective mechanisms to allow for comprehensive measurement, monitoring and reporting of performance and progress and to share regularly with board stakeholders. As a result every staff member, senior leader and board member embody the business strategy to guide everyday work.
Another unique approach is involving and integrating your product with actual needs of your Board of Directors. Recognizing how they may benefit is a great way to engage senior stakeholders in an interactive and meaningful way. In the context of health and safety, an eLearning module was created and is the only one of its kind in Canada. The eLearning course ensures that all levels of an organization understand their basic roles, rights and responsibilities – from the worker to the boardroom. The module discusses how boards can ensure due diligence and make an important contribution to improving the risk culture of their organization by assuming formal oversight of workplace health and safety risk. This is an effective way to establish a baseline for health and safety culture within an organization and embodies a stakeholder engagement model.
Voting member involvement is also an important aspect of planning culture. Members have access to insights and can advocate for the advancement of targeted business goals and enhance visibility in the marketplace. Voting members are our customers and as a result aid in improving the overall customer experience. This contributes to the building of trust and a positive reputation among associations, organization, unions and other agencies.
Networking Groups and Communities of Practise
Informal or formal networking groups bring a local perspective. Health and safety concerns, funding and accessibility are very different across the province. These local networking groups ensure that we are connected to the frontline health and safety provider at a local level. Communities of Practise are formed when a common interest across all our sectors is identified as an emerging or difficult. This provides an opportunity for our stakeholders to share successes and challenges and work through them together to find common solutions.
Why It Works
Fostering new relationships for stakeholder engagement builds capacity and fosters innovation. Collaboration allows for effective response to clients and supports investment in research and design. Working with stakeholders means understanding and innovating to better serve the market. It improves overall understanding of issues, and challenges in order to build new and innovative ways to inform and educate. Increasing presence and influence within the sectors that PSHSA serves, has been a key goal over the past year. Working closely with stakeholders, advisory councils and representatives of employer and employee associations to better understand their needs have allowed us to adapt, focus and develop our offerings accordingly. As a result this kind of collaboration is recognized with being invited to sit on other provincial advisory councils in return and in establishing certain programs as the model from which to approach system wide issues.