Top Safety Leaders Under 35 | Young Achievers 2023 

Building a safer future

Canadian Occupational Safety’s inaugural Young Achievers awards recognize the top safety leaders under the age of 35 whose professional desire and determination is strengthening workplace safety culture and impacting workers’ lives positively nationwide. 

The top 40 safety leaders who made the prestigious winners’ list have varying educational, training, and experience levels. However, the 2023 Young Achievers have the commonality of carrying out their duties with knowledge and expertise, along with displaying initiative and courage.  

Industry insider Thomas Hanson, division manager, OHS planning, strategy and risk management at BC Hydro, lists what he expects of young professionals seeking to stand out: 

  • evidence of dedication, currency in the field and a professional standard 
  • track record of roles/assignments that allow for safety knowledge growth
  • industry involvement (attending conferences, volunteering, etc.)
  • team orientation
  • ability to understand their own strengths and development areas
  • good two-way communication 


Where do you see yourself in five years?
“I’m going to get my certification as a health and safety consultant because I’d like to help smaller companies that may not have their own full-time safety person”
Tobore AdaghaDexterra Group


Brightest young safety leaders embrace technology

At the vanguard of occupational safety is Tobore Adagha. The 33-year-old HSEQ coordinator at Dexterra Group is an exponent of harnessing tech to extract valuable data. 

“With this data, you’re able to properly analyze where things are lagging, where they are leading, how you can improve your processes, and how you can come up with policies that can better help workers,” she says. 

Since emigrating to Canada from Nigeria, Adagha has immersed herself in acquiring additional safety credentials, such as the OHSC certificate from the University of Alberta, where she is also working toward the diploma that will give her the CRSP designation. 

After joining the industry in 2022, Adagha’s accomplishments include: 

  • harnessing the power of data analysis tools to marry data and health and safety to track, predict, and prevent incident trends through training and retraining 
  • organizing awareness campaigns and webinars 
  • conducting monthly monitoring reports to help senior leadership make informed safety decisions 
  • critically analyzing incidents and incident trends on a weekly basis, ensuring they are correctly classified, the causes are examined, and action reviews are communicated 

One of the challenges Adagha faced early in her safety career was impostor syndrome. She would second-guess herself and had doubts about being heard in the workplace. During that uncertain period, she took the initiative and registered for the mentorship program offered by the Women in Occupational Health & Safety Society. 

She credits her mentor, Molly Chisholm, along with safety colleagues she calls “trailblazers” in their own right, and her organization’s strong safety culture, with helping her rise above those challenges. 

“I didn’t know the importance of mentorship before, but now I do,” Adagha reflects. “How important it is to your confidence and your job experience cannot be overstated.”

Young Achiever safety leader building a strong workplace culture

Tamara Weaver joined Modern Niagara Group from high school and is now one of their longest-tenured HSE specialists, despite being only 28. She is also responsible for claims management and has been instrumental in building the safety culture within the organization’s Calgary operations and its team nationally. 

The creative problem-solver has gained the respect of her peers for being a trusted safety specialist in mechanical contracting. Weaver’s notable achievements include: 

  • lowering the company’s WSIB premiums and rate statements below the industry average for the last five years, three of which were consecutive, by successfully managing return-to-work and WSIB claims, ensuring workers had the coverage they needed and returned to work as soon as possible 

  • being the only Canadian representative and one of two women on the national committee of international trade association the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association
  • in partnership with colleagues, digitizing the organization’s safety program, a unique and customizable one-stop shop of health and safety information for 3,000 employees 


Where do you see yourself in five years? 
“I want to keep learning, evolving, and finding new ways of doing things and helping people; I’d like to be managing safety for Western Canada” 
Tamara WeaverModern Niagara Group


“It’s been a big success, and everybody that’s used it has loved it, so that’s what counts,” she notes. “It took two years to design and build a digital health and safety management system, and it’s constantly evolving and improving.” 

Weaver has also cultivated relationships with fellow staff members over her decade of experience and credits that rapport with securing buy-in on safety initiatives and executing change more effectively. 

Like her fellow Young Achievers, Weaver believes safety is a long game and invests in herself through ongoing learning. She has an OHS certificate from the University of New Brunswick and is working toward her diploma for CSRP designation.  

“It’s a never-ending learning journey,” she comments.  


Young Achiever aims to impact worker safety on a large scale  

Mark Cabanlig is a decorated professional who has PMP, CSP, CMIOSH, GSC, and CSRP designations to his name. 

Discussing his approach, he says, “The challenge is getting safety objectives and the safety voice heard on a bigger scale. But take those small wins; over time, those small wins eventually have a bigger impact.” 

An example of the 32-year-old safety manager at Toro Aluminum’s prowess was how he secured senior leadership buy-in to produce a training video for window installers, used across the company’s business units and issued to subcontractors. 

Cabanlig’s strong leadership and courage to stand up for workers is also evident in his other achievements, which include: 

  • reducing the company’s injury rating each year since 2016, with recordable injury frequency down annually from 28 to 23

  • developing company-wide initiatives, such as a metric system of KPIs and a bonus deduction system for subcontractors, further reducing incidents and credited with helping to transform the safety culture 

  • creating knowledge gap assessments for workers, supervisors, and leaders to determine root causes that can lead to incidents and presenting action plans to the executive team 

“To be successful in safety, you have to come from a place of authenticity,” he adds. “If you see safety as just a job, a paycheque, you won’t get far. But if you see it as a career to keep everybody safe, you can go home happy because you did something good that day.” 

Colleagues note that Cabanlig’s approach to safety is refreshing and authentic. His nominator said his “deep passion for his craft is evident in his effort to develop meaningful relationships across the team”. 

People skills drive safety results for Young Achiever 

Despite being only six months into her first full-time safety role as the EHS coordinator at INNIO Waukesha Canada, Brittany Brunet has been praised for her significant contributions and her nominator commented that she is a “true rising star”. 

Brunet has amassed institutional knowledge, having started with the organization as a manufacturing technician before moving into an HR role and later discovering a passion for safety. 

“A bonus for me is I’m aware of the workers on the floor. I’ve been recruiting and onboarding employees, so everyone is comfortable speaking with me,” she explains. “People are sometimes afraid to speak to health and safety leaders when they’re walking the floor, so it’s important to maintain relationships with people and have open communication.” 


Where do you see yourself in five years? 
“I’d like to see myself continuing to make positive changes in people’s lives; it’s important to not only help workers, but make effective changes within the construction industry” 
Mark CabanligToro Aluminum


She has put her tenured experience to good use and counts among her accomplishments: 

  • participating in a WSIB health-and-safety excellence program, for which her project earned the company a sizable rebate

  • being a key player in her site’s EHS program, which has held an average TIR rate of under .5 for the past three years

Brunet acknowledges the challenge of starting a new safety role. However, her success can be attributed to her determination to exceed the job demands and rely on her team for help. Striking a balance between competing pressures is essential, given that she’s enrolled in the health-and-safety postgraduate program at the University of Victoria and is pursuing her CRST certification. 

“When I first started, I didn’t think about safety,” she notes. “But when I was working on the floor, I realized how important it was, and I thought I’d use that experience and my operational knowledge in health and safety.” 

In conclusion, Stephanie Benay, director of safety at BC Hydro, highlights the path forward for 2023’s Young Achievers. 

“Safety is a proud and noble profession. As you progress in your career, understand the importance of mentors, coaches and sponsors in helping you understand your role, how to progress in your career, and what else you need to understand about business to integrate strong safety systems and practices in your company.” 


Where do you see yourself in five years?
“I’d like to move into a safety leadership role so that I can make a bigger impact” 
Brittany BrunetINNIO Waukesha Canada


Top Safety Leaders Under 35 | Young Achievers 2023 

  • Alex Ewing
    Senior Partner, Aceis Group
    Executive Director, OCUC
  • Brittany Brunet
    EHS Coordinator
    INNIO Waukesha Canada Corporation
  • Chelsea Laporte
    Safety Specialist
    Edmonton International Airport
  • Darshan Gill
    Health and Safety Advisor
    SafetyDriven – Trucking Safety Council of BC
  • Devon Chubey
    Health and Safety Officer
    St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services
  • Devon Ford
    HSE Manager, Energy
    Michels Canada
  • Dulsha Sannasgama
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    Assiniboine Park Conservancy
  • Elyse Love-Dillman
    HSE Manager
    FWS Group of Companies
  • Emily Kerr
    Safety Advisor
    AgSafe BC
  • Eric Vanderburg
    Safety Trainer
    Industrial Safety Trainers
  • Gabrielle Herle
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    Teck Resources
  • Jason Zaffino
    Partner and Principal Consultant
    Uplift Safety Solutions
  • Jessica McDonald
    Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator
    Pro Administration Services
  • Jonathan Amaya
    Health and Safety Manager
    Belfor Property Restoration Canada
  • Julian Kenny
    Regional Health and Safety Specialist
    Fort Garry Industries
  • Justin Turcotte
    Occupational Health and Safety Officer
    Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation
  • Jyoti Bedi
    Health, Safety and Wellness Consultant
    George Brown College
  • Kezia Grams
    Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    ATB Financial
  • Kristen Hough
    Operations Health and Safety Specialist
    BluEarth Renewables
  • Maria Otalora
    Health and Safety Environment Coordinator
    HSE Elements
  • Michael Phelan
    Manager, Client Success
    Blackline Safety
  • Miranda Frasz
    Quality Assurance
    Energy Safety Canada
  • Nicole Gabbert
    HSE Manager, Infrastructure
    Michels Canada
  • Ryan Rodrigues
    Joint Health and Safety Representative
  • Samantha Li
    General Manager
    Audeng International
  • Sara Abedeen
    Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    Baycrest Project and Construction Management
  • Sarah Frank
    Senior HSSE Specialist
  • Shannon Braun
    Human Resources Manager
    Bethesda Community Services
  • Shantel Osborn
    Safety Coordinator/Safety Administration Lead
    Leavitt Machinery
  • Steven Nieboer
    Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
    Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
  • Tobore Adagha
    HSEQ Coordinator
    Dexterra Group
  • Tsitsi Pena
    CEO, Principal Safety Consultant and Industrial Hygienist
    Journey to Zero Safety Solutions
  • Valerius Hiebert
    Safety Advisor
    Made Safe
  • Vanessa Thomson
    HSE Assurance and Compliance Manager
    Primoris Canada


As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter experts below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings.  
  • Stephanie Benay  
    Director, Safety  
    BC Hydro
  • Thomas Hanson  
    Division Manager, OHS Planning, Strategy and Risk Management  
    BC Hydro



In March, Canadian Occupational Safety accepted nominations for the inaugural Young Achievers list. The standout young stars from the Canadian safety industry were invited to put their names forward; those who knew of and wished to highlight such talent were also asked to submit nominations.  

Nominees needed to be 35 or under as of July 1. They had to have committed to a career in the safety profession and shown a passion for the industry. The COS team also required nominees to cite their current position, responsibilities, and key achievements over the past 12 months. 

The team considered recommendations from managers and senior industry professionals in the review process conducted after the nomination period. After considering all aspects of the many submissions received, 40 emerged as the brightest Young Achievers of the batch. 

The Young Achievers report is proudly supported by the Women in Occupational Health & Safety Society. 


About the supporting association 



Incorporated as a not-for-profit society in 2017, WOHSS is a grassroots organization committed to supporting women working in occupational health and safety (OHS). 

The WOHSS Board of Directors is comprised of professionals from across the country, representing a diverse cross-section of the OHS profession. The Board represents leaders of different backgrounds, experiences and career paths; all dedicated to one common goal: to build a better future for women working in OHS.