This past December Gateway Autobody became the first independent autobody in Canada to become SafeWork Certified. This is no small feat for any business let alone for small business. President Kelly Kostynyk on this award, “Gateway Autobody is honored to be in a position of setting a new standard for our company and the Collision Repair Industry as a whole. We at Gateway know we have exceptional staff . . . talented, knowledgeable, dedicated and driven to be the best.”
As a member on the Advisory Council for S2 Safety, the Association representing Manitoba’s Automotive Industries, Gateway Autobody was invited to help champion workplace safety by working towards SafeWork Certification.
With several automaker and industry certifications already attained, Kostynyk said his team felt it was important to get behind the SafeWork Manitoba initiative because certification demonstrates commitment to a cause and helps establish a benchmark for where you are and where one wants to be.
Reflecting on the journey, Kostynyk admits it was one of the more difficult certifications to earn because it genuinely required a cultural change. “It’s not that we weren’t safe; we were – our WCB rates were among the lowest in the industry, we had few injuries, and recommendations by Inspectors from the Workplace Safety & Heath Department were always modest and quickly addressable.”
Kostynyk points out “the journey to safety certification called for a major shift in our attitude about safety. Everyone had to be on board; not just management. All staff needed to be safety conscious by being aware of hazards and taking action to eliminate them which generally means staff tell our management or bring it up at a workplace safety and health meeting. It was great to see staff working together to point out things in our workplace that could hurt them … and they all did it – from cracks in the concrete floor to running low on safety supplies to how we store and dispose of oil-soaked rags.”
As a small workplace with less than 20 employees, Gateway Autobody is not required to have a Workplace Safety and Health Committee under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety & Health Regulations but chose to go this route anyways. The “official” workplace committee meets over lunch every 3 months and has 4 members, but everyone shows up for pizza, and puts in their “two cents.”
Gateway is especially proud of its focus on vulnerable workers. Students, for instance, must complete an orientation before being allowed on the shop floor. Day 1 is Safety & Health training and includes fire safety, evacuation, general safety policies, reading over pertinent Safety Data and completing an online WHMIS course from CCOHS which provides students with a certificate for their resumes.
On the question of what advice to you have for others? Kostynyk’s answer is simple – its worth the investment. Try to find someone to help you sort out what needs to be done, make a plan and just do it.