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Safety Week 2021 - Be Present. Be Focused. Be Safe.

Safety Week 2021 begins on Monday, May 3. Due to the current COVID-19 related restrictions, the League of Champions (LOC) is promoting virtual events rather than the normal on-site or in-person events. We continue to work closely with our members to participate virtually and support your Safety Week activities. Safety Week provides a meaningful opportunity for every person to recommit to safety, and through our combined actions, we demonstrate our continued commitment to making our industry safer.

The League of Champions has planned for a Safety Week 2021 Redux in September (dependent on COVID 19 Protocols). We would love to feature you, our Champions, if you are interested or for additional information, contact .


Safety is a value that we all share. Safety Week provides us with opportunities to celebrate these values and work together to inspire every single person in our industry to be a leader in safety.

The risks in our industry are real. Aside from the onsite job-related risks that we are presented with, there are 4 main stresses that often go unnoticed. The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) and League of Champions (LOC), along with a very dedicated Safety Committee comprised of our members have created a framework around the topic of Fit for Duty.

What is Fit for Duty? Fit for Duty means that an individual is in a state of Physical Health, Mental Health, Emotional Health, and Competency which enables all workers to perform the essential tasks of their work assignment in a manner that does NOT threaten the safety or health of oneself, co-workers, property, or the public at large.

We often think of impairment as a result of substance use, or in terms of addiction or dependence on alcohol or drugs (used legally or illegally), however, impairment can be the result of various situations, including many that are temporary, short-term, and/or circumstantial. Issues that may distract a person from focusing on their tasks or not having the knowledge to perform their tasks include those that are related to family or relationship problems, fatigue (mental or physical), traumatic shock, inexperience, or medical conditions or treatments.

The Construction industry takes great pride in being proactive when it comes to safety, however, with our goal of zero incidents, injuries, and fatalities and so we all need to continue to be extra vigilant when it comes to safety, the health of our workers and COVID-19 protocols.

LOC Chair and Gillam Group President, Craig Lesurf puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to safety. Craig is the very first person to remind us that Safety Is Not Proprietary! Thank you Chair Lesurf for sharing 5 Ways to Build a Stronger Safety Culture.


Safety is not proprietary!

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all and has changed the way we act and interact. We employ the hierarchy of controls, social distancing, virtual commuting, physical distancing, increasing sanitization measures, using additional PPE and utilizing face coverings at work and in everyday life.

As leaders, ensuring every worker safely returns home at the end of the day is constantly at the forefront of our minds and takes continued due diligence. Now is the time to develop a suitable plan for your workforce and company to achieve maximum safety awareness, educate and protect against COVID-19 to significantly reduce the number of incidents, accidents and near misses.

Safety Week an industry-wide event dedicated to educating and increasing awareness in the workplace across Canada and the United States. It provides an opportunity to examine and reinforce your commitment to safety. This commitment is most robust when it is woven into an organization's culture and is visible in everyday routines, policies and processes.

This year, Ontario will also mark a new day designated to promote safety in the workplace. Bill 152 Occupational Safety & Health Day received Royal Assent on April 27, 2021. The Bill proclaims the first Tuesday in May each year as Occupational Safety and Health Day, recognizing the importance of supporting and nurturing a safe and healthy culture in every workplace. This year it falls on Tuesday, May 4, so let us all use this day as an opportunity to promote and cross-promote workplace safety and health through education of safety and health rights, responsibilities, and prevention measures.

Reinforce the importance and value of safety across your organization and improve your culture by following these five steps:


Bring the commitment to safety to a personal level by asking company leaders to consider these questions:

  • How engaged am I in company safety programs?

  • How can I increase my engagement levels with project teams?

  • Can I make a difference in our workers' safety by engaging more?

  • Does our company empower me to make a difference in workplace safety?

  • How do I influence our company and my leadership?

Ask your leaders to consider these questions and ask them to pledge something new that they believe will make a difference in safety performance and help create an injury-free workplace. Their pledges should become action plans shared with team members; stakeholders and leaders need to seek feedback on their effectiveness.

If you are a leader in your company, ask yourself: “What can I do to be a better leader? What can I do to engage all workers on our project sites and offices? How do I enable others to become leaders and adopt a stronger culture of safety?"


The commitment to safety begins at the highest levels. To showcase that safety promise, executives and management and leaders at every level should make safety-specific video calls and virtual tours of each jobsite and, if possible, in-person visits utilizing physical distancing protocols and proper PPE throughout Safety Week.

Introduce new programs and create remote learning environments. Maximize interactions with the jobsite personnel by meeting (virtually or in-person) with workers and identifying daily workloads, responsibilities, and concerns. Following COVID-19 protocols while on location, attend safety-specific meetings and briefings, complete a jobsite safety audit/inspection, engage in safety-specific discussions with forepersons and other crew members. This is also an ideal opportunity to solicit feedback from workers on site conditions, COVID-19 protocols, safety matters and company values. Show Visible Leadership!

  • What are we doing well?

  • What can we do better?

  • Do you feel safe on the jobsite?

  • What does safety mean to you?


Challenge your project teams to confidentially assess where the project measures in terms of safety performance (COVID-19 Protocols and measures, non-compliant, compliant, good practice, best in class, etc.).

During the evaluation, focus on safety culture, COVID-19 Protocols and education, team member competency/training, communications (best practices, incident reviews, etc.), compliance with regulations and subcontractor performance.

If you have not done so already, utilize Safety Week to put additional safety plans into motion and begin or further your efforts to work toward achieving "best in class" status. At Gillam, for example, we are rolling out two new programs aimed at increasing awareness to things on site that are either being done incorrectly or correctly. They are called "Don't Walk By" and "Rewarding Good Behavior". Trade personnel will also be engaged and participate in this effort as well, as they are valued partners and will carry the safety commitment with them into the future.


Several organizations promote Safety and Health Week, including the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week and Construction Safety Week. They offer a wide range of ideas for events and activities to hold throughout the first week in May, hosting a virtual Safety roadshow and inviting vendors to showcase new tools and safety equipment, holding safety training and education sessions (hand injury prevention, fall protection, ladder safety, etc.). Share photos of weekly activities on social media using hashtags such as #SafetyWeek, #ConstructionSafetyWeek, #SafetyandHealthWeek.

Safety education events are highly productive and beneficial; safety leaders from across North America share Toolbox Talks, educational materials, and best practices. Sharing (yes with your competitors) safety best practices is something that is becoming more widely accepted. Remember, safety is not proprietary! While we cannot hold all events in person, we can at least host virtual events.

With COVID 19 Protocols in place, it will still be challenging to hold in-person events, contests, lunches, and gatherings; however, we can adapt for May and have another follow-up session in September (providing it is safe to do so under the COVID 19 Protocols at that time).


Safety Week is an opportune time to review policies and procedures on individual jobsites. Here are some activities.

  • Hold emergency response drills & mock drills: Invite emergency response teams to come on-site to assess emergency response protocols and procedures

  • Perform a Safety Rollback: Include site housekeeping, cord/tool inspections, rigging inspections and proper storage, assured grounding inspections, PPE inspections, general safety inspections

  • Educate your workers - the theme for Safety Week 2021 is on Fit for Duty and a focus on the four states of Fit for Duty:

1. Mental Health

2. Physical Health

3. Emotional Health

4. Competency

The week will cover all forms of safety and the slogan is Be Present. Be Focused. Be Safe. Toolbox talks, educational material and best practices will be shared from safety leaders across North America. Rob Ellis, President of My Safe Work (, often asks, "What do good companies look like? Well, they care for their staff, they care for others, are proactive about safety and lead by example." The main objectives for raising the bar for safety in our industry are increasing awareness, promoting education, positive reinforcement, empowering front-line workers, improving cultures and sharing best practices.

These objectives will support our collective efforts to ensure our workforce works safe, new workers are protected and that everyone returns home in the same condition as when they arrived each and every day!

Here is what YOU can do to raise the bar for safety:

  • Challenge the status quo!

  • Participate in Safety and Health Week 2021 – In May and in September (part II)

  • Take part in additional initiatives such as Safety Month (May)

  • Lever safety culture improvement at your company by joining the League of Champions (

  • Volunteer to make a difference for safety in our industry.

  • Share: after all, safety is not proprietary!

  • Make it relatable – use personal reasons to motivate others

Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste," and we certainly have one with this pandemic.

I will add to this something I say all the time; "Leaders Need to Lead," and unless we all step up to make a difference, people will continue to get hurt in our industry, which is unacceptable.

So, ask yourself, are you a leader?

Craig Lesurf, B.Tech. Arch, BAT

Craigis President of Gillam Group and a proven leader with over 30 years of experience in planning and delivering a wide range of complex construction projects. After graduating from Ryerson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture (Project Management), he achieved a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Construction Management (Hon). Along the way, Craig has been an essential part of numerous award-winning past company accomplishments, including the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) Outstanding Safety Culture Award (twice) and twice winning Canada’s Safest Employer Silver Award for the Construction Sector and Young Worker Safety. Craig was also the recipient of the Ontario General Contractors Association’s Doug Chalmers Safety Award in 2017. Craig is Chair of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) Safety Committee, a member of the Executive Board where he is actively providing methods for strategic leadership and building a safety culture in the Ontario Construction industry, including being a founder of the Safety League of Champions (LOC) and its current Chair.

Craig is passionate about safety, people, culture & results and often says, “Leaders need to Lead” and “Safety is not Proprietary.”


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