rcs construction keeps it at 100

rcs construction crew

Return to work, mental health top of mind for Bedford-based company

At rcs construction in Bedford, being 100 percent hard hats is not enough — they’re 100 percent glasses too.

“Safety glasses may not always be a legislative requirement, but we feel they are just as important as hard hats,” said Ashley Tingley, safety manager at rcs construction.

To get buy in from employees around PPE and other safety initiatives, the safety team finds ways to make safety fun such as giving out prizes, having pizza parties and BBQs, and setting up some friendly competition during NAOSH Week.

“There’s incentive there which is great. They really get the subs engaged,” Tingley said.

Safety culture

Safety at rcs is protective rather than reactive. For example, the safety team regularly gets calls from staff asking for assistance on a critical task they have coming up.

“They will call me and say ‘Hey Ash, we have this task coming up next week. We have X, Y, Z in place. Can you think of anything else we need?’” Tingley explained. “I love getting those calls! It brings a smile to my face.”

All employees have a safety section on their yearly performance reviews, which helps keep OHS top of mind no matter the role. Additionally, all new hires are asked safety related questions during the interview process. In fact, it’s one of the first questions they’re asked.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s important for them to go home safe to their families but they also have to worry about all our subcontractors, suppliers, consultants, and clients going on site, so it needs to be a high priority,” said Andrew Doucet, director of construction. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve built 10 multi-story buildings and a bunch of base buildings and can do work in every different sector — it’s important that you understand the importance of safety so that we can all go home every day and then go to the next job.”

Safety culture starts from the top down, and rcs senior leadership is 100 percent supportive of the safety team. They step in when they need to and they are always willing to give Tingley and her team the tools and resources they need to keep the workforce safe.

Return to work

Managing the return to work process when a worker is unfortunately injured on the job hits close to home for Tingley.

“When I was in school for safety, my brother was injured on a job site and he suffered from a brain injury and I watched that process from a personal standpoint — just not getting the support he needed — and I vowed to myself if anyone was ever injured at rcs, I would be there and be that support,” she said.

With this in mind, the safety team likes to be involved in return to work right from the beginning, and they maintain constantly communication with the employee while they are off work. While they want workers to come back as soon as they can, the rcs safety team wants to see them back to their pre-injury role and fully recovered. If that’s not possible, they will explore light-duty options. The company works with CBI Health and has been very happy with the service they provide to help the injured worker throughout this process.

Mental health

Doucet is a vice-chair of the Mental Health Association of Nova Scotia, so ensuring rcs workers’ mental health is taken care of is of the utmost important to him. The company offers an employee and family assistance program, and in 2021 partnered with Enriched Academy, which teaches financial literacy — a huge factor in mental wellness for individuals.

“Whether it’s you or a family member struggling with mental health, you’re going to come to work and you won’t be as focused and that all ties back to safety again,” he said. “If people are coming to work and their mental wellness if not in check, it’s a safety concern.”

The company also does a social post that goes to all rcs employees for “Wellness Wednesday” to offer health-related tips to its workers. The company also offers discounted gym memberships around the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The construction company is a leader in physical and psychological safety who is COR® certified and strongly prefers COR® for its subcontractors as well. The company believes in continuous improvement and it strives for safety excellence every day.

“I’ve been here almost nine years and I have watched the safety culture, grow, expand and transform,” Tingley said. “Safety is a priority for everyone that works at rcs and it’s something that they believe in.”