The Shaw Group involves employees in safety and recognizes their efforts

The Shaw Group, a proud local developer and manufacturer in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the past 160 years, has a variety of tools in its safety toolbox for engaging its workers to remain safe on the job. One of which is an internal marketing campaign with a “Safety First” theme.

“We’ve developed ‘Safety First’ posters and placed them throughout our sites that say things like ‘The most dangerous words in Safety – We’ve Always Done it That Way.’  We have a variety of different posters with slogans that we change up month to month,” said Jeff King, health and safety manager for the Lantz, N.S. operations. “We look for those fun, catchy things that can create a positive safety culture.”

Another tool is to encourage employees to look for hazards and report them as hazard IDs or as near misses in conjunction with empowering employees to implement corrective actions, when possible. For example, if there is a broken pallet sitting on the ground with nails protruding, an employee has the ability and is encouraged to take that piece of wood and toss it in the garbage, King explains.

“As employees identify concerns we jump on corrective actions right away,” King said.  “This creates a catalyst for change. If employees report concerns and nothing happens, they will then be reluctant to buy in to the safety culture thinking leadership is not paying attention to their concerns.”


Yet another tool in the safety toolbox at the Shaw Group is encouraging employee-led health and safety initiatives as part of North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. Last year, an employee spoke about his personal experience after suffering a heart attack.  The company thought it was important and approached the employee and gauged his interest to discuss his experience with peers and highlight the warning signs as well as prevention mechanisms to lead a healthy life. The company then handed out key chains that can hold 81mg Aspirin which can be given to someone who is experiencing a heart attack to assist in maintaining blood flow.

“They get tired of me talking day in and day out,” King laughs, “so I try to get employees involved, when possible, to speak in front of their peers as it’s more impactful when it comes from a colleague they work with every day.”

Safety Gotcha

A highly successful program at Shaw Group is called “Safety Gotcha,” which recognizes employees who go above and beyond for health and safety.  Just wearing your PPE is not enough — you have to take safety to the next level in order to receive the coveted recognition of being awarded a Tim Hortons gift card.

“We don’t expect the gift card to change the world, but a lot of times our employees like a pat on the back and the recognition in front of their peers,” King said. “It just helps promote the culture and is another catalyst of how things evolve or change for the better.”

The Shaw Group is a big supporter in positive feedback for people doing the right things and recognizing those doing their part for safety.  Employees also have the ability to nominate one another as part of the “Safety Gotcha” program when they witness workers who are really stepping up their safety game.

Electronic reporting software 

Recently, the Shaw Group adopted a new electronic safety reporting software program from EHS Insight, making it even easier to report hazards in real time. The company anticipates this tool will further increase hazard reporting by allowing for an easier reporting process. The Shaw Group recently reached an impressive achievement in 2022 for a 65 percent overall increase in hazard reporting in just two years (2020 vs. 2022).  Employees are no longer required to complete paper reports that can get lost and are difficult to administer and manage.

“Employees can take pictures of the hazard and upload them into a kiosk tablet, or by using a mobile app on their phone,” King explained. “The software has also helped the safety team to accurately track its safety metrics, see trends as well as highlight areas for improvement.”

All these efforts have made a tremendous impact on safety within the company seeing its TRIF rate drop by 50 percent in 2022. The Shaw Group also won the Most Improved Award from Construction Safety Nova Scotia at its AGM in April of last year.

Why COR®?

King says COR® is very important at the Shaw Group because of the external audit that it provides.

“People often put on blinders or get complacent after working at a place for a period of time, the COR® process tests to ensure we are doing everything that we have committed to in our safety manual, as well as compliance to provincial legislation and regulation,” he said.

By holding the COR certification customers know that Shaw Group is a safety conscious company.

“When you decide to work with the Shaw Group, employees and customers can trust they are working with a company that puts the health and safety of their employees first and foremost,” King said.

Safety training

The Shaw Group gets its safety training through Construction Safety Nova Scotia because the content is “exceptional and extremely relevant.”

“CSNS instructors effectively teach our employees the necessary safety content to keep employees safe every day. When not administered properly, training can be cumbersome and employees can easily lose interest, however CSNS maintains engagement with great instruction,” King said.

The Shaw Group is also known to take advantage of on-demand training where a CSNS instructor goes to their facility to conduct various JOHS committee training courses. The company also uses the CSNS online training options, most recently having its entire leadership team complete the online “Leadership in Safety Excellence” course, which provided managers and supervisors with advanced level safety tools to apply in its operations.