Byerley is a safety consultant with a passion for teaching and a wealth of expertise
Q. How did you get into health and safety?
A. I was a medic in the Air Force, and then got into ambulance emergency care when I got out. In the ’90s, I was finishing up a university degree, and I was working part-time at the local ambulance dispatch centre. The manager said that they needed a member of the team to be on the joint health and safety committee. He sent me to a course, and it got me interested in health and safety. After [the course], I signed up at the local college and took a couple of health and safety courses part-time. In 1995, I got a job working as a health and safety manager for the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation, and that was my first foray into the health and safety business.
Q. What do you like most about working in health and safety?
A. One of my most favourite parts of my health and safety [career] is that, in 2007, I started teaching at one of the local universities. They were looking for a sessional instructor to do health and safety for one of their business degrees. I got to take all the information and all the things that I've garnered over the years in my role — both good and bad — and I can pass that on to the new generation. I'm looking for that “aha” moment when something suddenly makes sense. I like seeing that. It's almost better seeing that moment than a paycheque that comes with it!
Q. How do you promote health and safety outside of work?
A. I've never been averse to passing on my concerns if I see something that's not going well or my approval if I see something being done well. It's really just living the [safety] life and making sure that I can pass on the information as much as possible. For example, I have passed on information to my condo board that's been helpful. They were not aware that if one of their contractors came into the building to do something and got hurt, then they would be held responsible for that [in Ontario]. It's just getting the word out as much as possible and helping.
Q. What does a typical day look like for you?
A. Part of my day is typically spent reviewing policies and updating policies. When I'm out and with my clients, we review what's going on — all of them have asked me to do a walk-around of their operations. Even if they're not official safety audits, we go for a walk and see what we can find. It’s about going out, meeting with the clients and taking the time to show them where they're doing well. And I tend to focus more on the good than on the not so good, because it has a more positive spin on safety. I think it's really important that people see health and safety as a positive thing.