Ask Ryan Stimming about creating a safe workplace and he immediately looks at the big picture. “We weren’t the first ski resort to achieve COR certification,” says Panorama Mountain Village’s risk manager, “but from a health and safety standpoint, we have to work with everyone — including our competition — to create safer workplaces for all our employees. If we can all reduce the number of injuries to our workers, that is beneficial to the entire industry.”
Stimming became the company’s risk manager in September 2010, charged with updating the existing health and safety culture at Panorama Mountain Village so the facility would qualify for COR certification by the end of the year. “We were lucky enough to take part in the pilot auditing process back in March 2010,” he says. Without requiring him to do any special preparation, a student auditor visited and performed an analysis, allowing Panorama to see how it stacked up at the time against what are to be considered best practices in health and safety. An organization needs to reach a benchmark of 80 per cent to qualify for COR certification. “We scored 76 per cent,” he says proudly of that first score. “That speaks volumes for my predecessor.”
Still, meeting the certification benchmark would qualify the resort for as much as a 15 per cent financial incentive on its WorkSafeBC premiums for all of 2010. “There was definitely some pressure on me, and on all of us, to make qualification,” he says. “I spoke with all the managers and made sure they understood the benefits of the program and the auditing process. We trained employees and put them in the field. Just two weeks after we had finished training, we were audited again. I was pretty nervous, but we had everyone on board, and I eventually realized that there was no way we could ever reach 100 per cent. You can always improve. The big question for me was whether we would pass this time. In fact, we scored 89 per cent.”
In addition to surpassing the benchmark, Stimming had specific objectives in mind when entering the COR program. “We want to decrease near-misses,” he says. “When someone is injured, we will be there with first aid. If it’s more serious, then we provide medical aid. And we want to decrease the amount of time lost to an injury, whether it takes a day or a longer period to recover.”
Finding meaningful work in a related area of employment is key both to maintaining morale of injured staff and speeding up their recovery. The second part of COR specifically addresses return-to-work programs. “What can you do to keep employees engaged in their workplace?” asks Stimming. “If someone has, say, a shoulder injury and cannot continue in their position as a ski instructor, then they might work at the desk taking reservations, talking with people who want lessons, learning how to sell our programs. Then, after they’ve recovered, they haven’t wasted their time. They’ve increased their skills, and perhaps they can move into a supervisory role. We want to turn that down time into an opportunity for the employee.”
Stimming has been trained by go2HR to be an internal auditor, permitting him to perform annual audits at Panorama until the next mandatory external audit three years from now. “The COR certification process is essentially a step-by-step guide on how to take your existing health and safety program and bring it to an industry-leading standard,” he says. Now that Panorama Mountain Village is up to speed, he intends to keep it that way.