Strong leadership skills key to success in construction safety

Saskatchewan's Construction Safety Association on why sharpened focus has helped enhance safety mission

Strong leadership skills key to success in construction safety

The Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA) is a non-profit organization with a mission to enhance and improve safety in the province. Founded in 1995, it serves over 14,000 member companies. A few years ago, the organization revamped its statement; its biggest aim is now to help build more effective construction safety leadership.

The organization’s board felt that building leaders and supporting leaders – those who are in executive roles, ownership roles – was a very specific method to advance better outcomes in the area of safety. The collective vision was that to enhance safety, you need to emphasize and focus on leadership.

“That statement became a very powerful one for us,” says Collin Pullar, President, SCSA. “The goal was to try to move from being one of the poorest performers in the country to creating the safest construction environment [in the country].”

To fulfill this mission, the organization is focusing on partnering with other organizations that do work around leadership. For example, the SCSA has partnered with Saskatchewan Polytechnic to enhance its leadership program in the construction sector.

Pullar says that the organization also had a strategic plan to improve its services for those in remote and rural settings. This was quickened by COVID. “In a lot of ways, the pandemic accelerated a lot of what we had hoped we could do, and wanted to do, in terms of delivery services to people who are remote and rural in Saskatchewan.”

This is important, he says, because the province’s population is fairly dispersed, and a lot of workers don’t live in or near major cities like Regina or Saskatoon where the organization centres the majority of its activities (e.g. courses). SCSA invested in technology to be able to deliver its services through a virtual and hybrid format.   

Similarly to other safety organizations, the Association provides an array of services including training and advice. The SCSA organizes its business into three main parts, firstly training services where it provides traditional classroom or online classroom training. Secondly, it provides advisory services. The SCSA provides free consulting services to its member companies. Thirdly, it has programs which are certification programs where at an individual level or company level entities can receive certification.

The SCSA also focuses on effective communication, for example it runs a Constructing Safety Leadership Conference annually and produces a digital magazine (Safety Advocate) twice a year. Communicating with its members on the importance of safety is essential, but it has to be done in the right way.

“If you can be really innovative and you’re able to communicate […] in a way that resonates with [people], that’s really where your opportunity to become effective shows up,” says Pullar.

He explains that in Saskatchewan, most businesses have five people or less. It is a province where there is a large number of small businesses, and small businesses may not have the time or money to invest in safety. So, says Pullar, to relate to these businesses you have to be “really good at marketing [safety] and making it sound like a desirable thing for people to take on in terms of their work culture.”