Shelly Cantelo – What it Takes to Create a Safety Culture

September 17, 2019 | News

Developing and maintaining strong safety practices and attitudes is fundamental to workplace safety.

Two years ago, Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre, in Kamloops, joined SafeCare BC’s Tailored Outreach Program, which helps organizations assess their own health and safety program and identifies opportunities for improvement.

After receiving a gap analysis, and taking stock of their risk rating with WorkSafeBC, Clinical Practice and Safety Manager Shelly Cantelo and her team decided to take robust action to build a culture of safety at Gemstone.

SafeCare BC spoke to Cantelo about what it takes to create and sustain a safety culture in an organization.


What does building a safety culture mean to you?

Building a safety culture means that as soon as you step into the doors of Gemstone you are thinking about safety; you are thinking about coming into work and leaving in the same condition; making sure residents are safe; and making sure that while being in a safe environment, the focus on quality of care remains.


What has been the impact of your work?

Staff are now thinking on their feet. They are more aware—our motto is “Be Aware, Take Care.” We have seen an increase in near misses, and staff are noticing and reporting them more.

And because of the Safety Star program we created, staff began advocating for each other. When a staff member sees an unsafe act, the program teaches them that they can say something to a colleague without sounding bossy. It establishes open communication and allows staff to look out for each other.


Do you face any resistance to the work you are doing?

Not at all. We made it fun. We hired a graphic designer, had posters and colourful lanyards made. We didn’t create more work for staff. We told them, “Yes, we are making you a Safety Star, but really, you already are a safety star.” They are doing things they already know how to.


Can you offer advice for organizations that want to create a safety culture?

Communication is key. Get your Occupational Health and Safety Committee involved and get buy-in from team leaders and supervisors, because it trickles down. Make sure staff can provide input, and that they are invested in it. Take it one step at a time.