Safety mentors play big role at Hallmark Tubulars

Hallmark Tubulars is the gold winner in the mining and natural resources category for the 2013 Canada's Safest Employers Awards.

Henry Ewert has a straightforward approach to safety. For the president of Calgary-based Hallmark Tubulars, safety must be the first priority for all 146 employees — over production or profit.

“It’s about doing the right thing,” he says.

The company, which provides tubular goods to the oil and gas industry, fosters a family atmosphere, he adds, so it strives to help workers become more aware of risks, at work and at home, and to know how to manage themselves so they don’t get hurt. Hallmark lives by the motto “Safety starts with me,” and workers learn they are responsible for stopping unsafe acts, says Ewert.

“One of the things we emphasize all the time is that people are not only empowered to do the right thing — and refuse to do anything that may be unsafe — but they’re obligated to do it,” he says.

Hallmark’s safety system has been honed over many years, says Monique Britten, director of health, safety, environment and quality. A combination of key HSE programs helps keep workers focused on safety and makes the system effective, she says. In its mentorship program, for example, new employees are placed with experienced co-workers for several months.

“The mentor passes along the good habits and tries to nurture the new employee about the way that Hallmark operates safely.”

Other programs include emergency response simulation, safety rewards and recognition, and journey management, which aims to ensure workers reach their destinations safely through regular communication. In the event of a significant near-miss, the hazard assessment and control program requires the HSE team to conduct a re-enactment to determine what went wrong and what needs to change to make sure the incident doesn’t happen again. Britten says Hallmark encourages workers to examine procedures and try to devise innovative ways to improve safety.

“In many cases, we act on their suggestions. We dedicate time, resources and money to try to find a solution that will produce a safer way to do business,” she says.

Safety awareness starts during the interview process and continues through training and mentorship, Ewert says. The joint health and safety committee meets every month, and yard and warehouse crews attend weekly safety meetings. Some workers routinely attend safety assessment meetings before the start of any job. Staff at all locations can participate in regular health and safety lunch-and-learns. And, once a year, top executives visit the company’s three locations to discuss a range of safety issues, encourage worker feedback and reiterate the message that safety is the company’s top priority.