Top Safety Leaders Under 35 |
Young Achievers

Rising stars

The safety sector’s future is bright, as illustrated by the breadth and depth of top talent featured in the prestigious list of COS'  Young Achievers 2024.

The 40 winning safety leaders are recognized for their impact on the industry and their ability to conquer challenges such as:

  • investigating injuries, incidents, and near misses and supporting efforts to identify root causes

  • implementing safety and environmental compliance programs using risk-based decision-making tools and processes

  • maintaining and upgrading chemical inventories and safety data sheet libraries

  • providing reports and statistical information to management

  • promoting psychological safety

  • collaborating with various internal stakeholders to promote a culture of safety


Despite their young years, they are wise heads and are set to influence the industry for decades to come.

Young safety leaders’ achievements​​​​


The mark of 2024’s Young Achievers is they have implemented real changes, thus making workplaces safer.

Transdev provides a wheelchair-accessible non-emergency patient transfer service for 200 long-term care centres and 100 Ontario hospitals.

Health and safety manager Ketrina Richer has successfully implemented a telematics system for the fleet of vehicles.

The new system means the organization can:

  • conduct a thorough root-cause analysis

  • implement effective corrective actions



Richer says, “As a result, we have seen a significant decrease in collisions and incidents related to driver behavior. By being able to proactively coach our employees on their driving habits, we have effectively prevented accidents before they occur, greatly enhancing overall safety within our operations.”

Fellow winner Melissa Fleury of engineering contractor Modern Niagara is already a professor of trade safety at Humber College in Toronto despite only being 25, allowing her to:

  • educate new workers entering the industry

  • extend her commitment, particularly toward health and safety in plumbing and carpentry


However, she cites her biggest impact as being promoted to health and safety regional manager, enabling her to directly use her influence as a young leader.

“It has allowed me to mentor and grow my team as well as the program,” Fleury says.

She oversees five HSE specialists and sites within the Toronto and SWO regions, along with managing WSIB claims, policy and procedure development, and communications to executives. 
 

“My passion to keep people mentally and physically sound is my main driver; we want our workers to return home safe and sound to their families”
Alexandra WilliamsModern Niagara


Sonia Isoufi is another of 2024’s Young Achievers. In her role as manager of health and safety, overseeing the entire fleet of locations for luxury department store Holt Renfrew, she has earned praise for being a leader and bringing teams together to promote health and safety.

Her responsibilities include:

  • conducting risk assessments

  • developing safety protocols

  • providing and coordinating training

  • ensuring compliance with relevant regulations


This approach allows her to ensure all goals have real value and a high impact.

“For example, a new scorecard system was developed to measure Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee H&S performance within the Internal Responsibility System model. This helped our teams stay focused, on track, and also know what it takes to be successful,” explains Isoufi. “It also created healthy competition and even recognition opportunities for those that were doing well, better than the previous year, and also going above and beyond in different areas. Overall, this tool really helped the team understand their contributions to achieve momentum for positive change.”

Young safety leaders’ superpowers


There is something that sets COS’ Young Achievers 2024 apart. They have all been able to gain an edge and mark themselves out.

Below, some of the winners share what separates them from the rest.

  • Alexandra Williams (Modern Niagara): “My strength, resilience, compassion, and understanding come together to give me the best superpower of just being me, which allows me to further support our teams and company as a whole.”

  • Ketrina Richer (Transdev): “My exceptional ability to connect with people. I excel at building meaningful relationships with my peers and colleagues, ensuring I truly understand their needs and concerns. This skill allows me to effectively address health and safety issues in a way that supports and enhances their operations rather than hindering them.”

  • Sonia Isoufi (Holt Renfrew): “I am a self-starter. As my roles advanced with more responsibility, I was fortunate to have managers who wanted to know my views. I slowly moved away from a ‘do as I am told’ relationship with managers who asked, “Where do you believe the focus should be?” I realized how much I enjoyed being a part of the decision-making process. As soon as I felt I had the support to make things happen, I was in full force mode.”

  • Melissa Fleury (Modern Niagara): “I would say my best quality is organization and determination. Both allow me to continue learning while organizing the HSE program and team to succeed.”

  • Shannon Goodhue (Modern Niagara): “The fact that I’m such a people person has truly helped me make connections with people in our company, and that’s given me more opportunities to get involved with tasks and help come up with plans for complicated tasks. Also, building those relationships has made it easier for people to come to me with concerns or to ask for help.”

 

Young safety leaders’ personalities


To be successful, safety professionals need to adopt a focused mindset to broaden their understanding and become more effective.

This translates into fewer accidents, safer working environments, and an overall boost to employee well-being.

Discussing how she approaches this, Fleury highlights how crucial communication is.

She says, “As a woman in construction, it is important to be willing to learn and collaborate with the experts in the field to not only get a different perspective but also to see how you can apply and develop excellent safety strategies to ensure everyone goes home safely every day.” 


Whereas for Richer, it is about extracting the maximum from situations to deepen her knowledge base.

“By consistently saying yes to new challenges, I’ve been able to broaden my experience and enhance my skills in health and safety,” she says. “Additionally, my flexibility and adaptability have allowed me to navigate various situations effectively. Coupled with a strong willingness and ability to learn quickly, these traits have been key drivers in my success.” 
 

“I’m always open to learning from everyone around me, and I ask questions about how our field staff complete their tasks, which has helped me learn more about their jobs and understand the different ways of doing things”
Shannon GoodhueModern Niagara


And this sentiment is echoed by Isoufi.

She adds, “I have stayed curious. In my professional life, this has helped me achieve a growth mindset of constantly learning.”

 

Top Safety Leaders Under 35 | Young Achievers

  • Abdel-Rahman Sabriye
    Manager, Environmental, Health, Safety and Security – North America
    Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee
  • Armand Sanguigni
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    Alberici Constructors
  • Brayden Ambo
    National Health and Safety Specialist
    Atlantic Industries
  • Brendan Johnston
    National Health, Safety, and Environment Manager
    Traugott Building Contractors
  • Chelsey VanderHeyden
    Health and Safety Specialist
    Safety First Consulting Professional Corporation
  • Darren Avery
    Partner
    Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti
  • Ebenezer Nimoh
    H&S Manager
    Sofina Foods
  • Jessica White
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    Flomax Compression
  • Kara White
    Project Health and Safety Officer
    WSP
  • Katlin Handel-Joseph 
    Occupational Health and Safety Consultant
    NorQuest College
  • Kevin Belair
    Health and Safety Manager
    Reliance Home Comfort
  • Krista Chisholm
    Infrastructure Health and Safety Manager
    NorLand
  • Kyla Hamm
    Health and Safety Advisor
    Alberta Energy Regulator
  • Kyle Palmer
    HSE Senior Advisor
    Graham Construction
  • Labhesh Modha
    HSSE Manager – North America
    BLANCO Canada
  • Martine Bergeron
    Senior Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety
    University of Ottawa
  • Meagan Smith
    Director of Health and Safety, Quality and Compliance
    Dempsey Corporation
  • Mike da Mota
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    Walker Industries
  • Nicholas Love
    Health and Safety Coordinator
    AGF Rebar
  • Nicola Harris
    Program Manager, Environmental Compliance and Chemical Safety
    University of Manitoba
  • Olivia Matthews
    H&S Coordinator
    Lafarge Canada
  • Pennee Koczka Iaboni
    Director of Health, Safety and Environment (Interim), Ontario Federation of Labour
    Health and Safety Specialist, Ontario Nurses’ Association
  • Robyn LeBlanc
    Supervisor, HSEQ Systems and Assurance
    Michels Canada
  • Sadaf Sanaat
    Health and Safety Specialist
    Keurig Dr Pepper
  • Sara De Iuliis
    Environmental Health and Safety Specialist
    MillerKnoll
  • Stuart Butcher
    Safety Coordinator
    VanMar Constructors
  • Taylor MacMillan
    Health and Safety Advisor
    Government of Yukon
  • Taylor Puddister
    Head of HSE
    ROSEN Canada
  • Zainab Nelson
    President and Lead Occupational Hygienist
    Exposure Control Consulting

 

Methodology

In March, Canadian Occupational Safety accepted nominations for the second annual 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.