Why NorLand Limited became a Canada’s Safest Employers Excellence Awardee

How an online safety portal enhanced training programs within the company

NorLand Limited’s vice president of health, safety, environment, and loss control, Brooks Patterson, joins COS TV to discuss its online safety porta. Learn more about how it is used to administer safety training courses and track the progress of employees. It helped make NorLand Limited a 2022 Canada’s Safety Employers Excellence Awardee. 

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Shane: [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to another edition of COS TV. I'm your host, Shane Mercer, senior journalist with Canadian Occupational Safety. On today's episode, we're talking about NorLand Limited's online portal for safety training and reporting. I'm joined by Brooks Patterson, vice President, Health, Safety, Environment and Loss Control with NorLand Limited. Thanks for joining me, Brooks. 

Brooks: [00:00:43] Hi there. 

Shane: [00:00:45] So what is NorLand's online safety portal and how does it work? 

Brooks: [00:00:51] Well, it's just like the name implies. It's an online product that allows us to do visual based learning and give out information to large groups of people in remote areas. So we're a Western based company, but we do work all around the world and having access to an online training system, especially during COVID, was really critical to our ability to get the message out. 

Shane: [00:01:14] So how exactly has it improved I.T. safety for NorLand's employees? 

Brooks: [00:01:19] Well, for for safety purposes, we started out as being a regulatory kind of solution because we believe here that safety is not really about the absence of accidents. It's about the presence of capacity and the presence of defenses. And people are not the problem to be managed. They are actually the problem solvers. And how do people solve problems? They solve problems by having the right information and the tools necessary to make good decisions in the field. And so we realized there was a gap there and we needed to fill that through some type of training that was accessible to everybody. And so when we came upon this technology, we went, we think this is what we need. So initially it was things like WHIMS and things like TDG and things that were regulatory in nature. But then we started to realize there was some internal processes that there really wasn't a product for out there in the marketplace. And so we started to develop things internally like shock insuring training videos and inspection tools for for users in the field to be able to tap into. And the portal was really kind of vital in all of that because it connected the dots. It allowed us to push things out in real time. And one of the neat things about it is that initially it became something that we were pressing down from from head office, and we started to notice that a phenomenon was happening where workers were actually reaching out and taking courses on their own because they had access to it. There was a sizable portion of our overall completion rate was self directed, which we did not anticipate. 

Shane: [00:02:49] Wow. It sounds really fascinating. So could other businesses benefit from a similar portal and how would they go about setting something like this up? 

Brooks: [00:02:58] Well, I think you need to do a needs assessment. For what? What's the problem you're trying to solve? So for us, one of the problems was onboarding. We're doing onboarding and a lot of different locations and there was a lot of sort of critical information that needed to be passed into those people. So the portal helped us to do that. But I think for any company that's contemplating this type of thing, there might be off the shelf products like the things that I mentioned for WHIMS and TDG that already exist in the marketplace. And there are folks out there that do that work. But if your need is to develop things that are customized to a specific work environment, which we found that we needed, then a company like. So we work with ATS Productions and you can contact them at [email protected] and reach out to my buddy Ken tell them that Hey Brooks sent me. We're interested in putting together some customized online training. It's actually very accessible and the per user cost of it is actually very reasonable. So it was in hindsight, an easy decision to make initially because we had never done it before. It's like anything else new. When you throw a bunch of money at something, you're not quite sure how it's going to land. I wish that we had done this ten years earlier. I really do. 

Shane: [00:04:09] But you've done it now, and it sounds like it's a great success. Thank you, Brooks. 

Brooks: [00:04:14] Thanks, Shane. Stay safe. 

Shane: [00:04:16] Brooks Patterson, Vice President, Health, Safety, Environment and Loss Control with NorLand Limited. I'm your host, Shane Mercer. Thanks for watching and stay up to date on the latest safety news and trends by checking in on Canadian occupational safety at thesafetymag.com.