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Alberta’s Best Workplaces: Safe Zone | Fit for Work

PCL and Orbis tie to win Health and Safety

Jun 1, 2013

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Best Workplace For Health and Safety

PCL Construction Management
(Tied with Orbis)
Head office: Edmonton
Founded: 1906
Senior executive: Paul Douglas
Number of Employees: 1,495


PCL knows safety. After more than 23 million man hours worked in 2012, the company only had one lost-time incident. Clearly the general contractor is doing something right. “In order to work here, you have to be part of that mode of thinking that you’re going to work safe before you work at all,” explains Wade Wilson, senior director of communications and brand.

The company has invested heavily in passing that mindset on to its employees, with a variety of training programs targeting different safety areas. The company has programs in office safety, environmental training and behavioural-based training. Many training programs are available online on PCL’s intranet.

But Wilson stresses that it’s not just about the programming. “The safety initiative here at PCL is a cultural thing,” Wilson says. “People at PCL aren’t participating in safety because they have to or that’s what the program is. It’s just what we do here.”

He explains that it’s important for PCL to pay attention to safety because that’s what its clients expect in the construction industry. But more than that, it’s about valuing people and wanting to keep them safe, and PCL is one of the best in the industry at it. The 2012 lost-time frequency rate average in North America was 3.02, while PCL’s was 0.01.

“This is actually a dangerous industry we work in,” Wilson says. “Construction sites are very busy with all kinds of people and equipment and processes and so to [have that low lost-time frequency rate] is a major step forward for us in our move to zero. That’s what we believe in here at PCL. We want to send every employee home safely every day.”

Orbis Engineering Field Services
(Tied with PCL)
Head office: Edmonton
Founded: 2001
Senior executive: Amin Kassam
Number of ALBERTA Employees: 74


With more than 70 employees, Orbis Engineering is made up of a diverse group of people, but if there’s one thing everyone can get behind, it’s health and wellness. “Health and wellness is part of the culture around here. It’s the fun part of being at work,” says strategic planning manager Becky McIntyre.

Employees had always been interested in sport, but the engineering firm recently took that interest and ran with it, partnering with Body by Bennett to give all employees the chance to work with a personal trainer for free. Staff enjoyed it so much that the company is planning on bringing Body by Bennett instructors to the office for group lessons and nutrition information. “It’s growing into something even more exciting,” McIntyre says.

The company already offers yoga at the office and encourages staff to use their annual $250 allowance for healthy-living to try a sport or take fitness classes. But, as McIntyre explains, encouraging activity together is very important to the company’s success as a team, especially because Orbis has a large, diverse group and people aren’t always in the office. “It’s important for the social aspect of health and wellness … We’re not in the office a lot because we’re always at client sites, so the ability to get people together to do activity is great.”

Orbis doesn’t forget about mental health either – it has policies on flexibility that allow employees to take time off during the day for mental health appointments, and provides workshops in-house on dealing with stress.

The Finalists

City of Grande Prairie
Head office: Grande Prairie
Founded: 1958 (village, 1914)
Alberta employees: 500 (permanent)
What it does best: Offers a $500 health and wellness account for employees to dedicate toward improving their health. Six appointments with mental health professionals are covered per year in the benefits package.

Dynalife DX
Head office: Edmonton
Founded: 1995
Alberta employees: 1,160
What it does best: On top of zumba and yoga at work, full-time nurses on staff and 10 “take a break” days per year, the company created a recycling program for substances used in lab work that has changed its entire industry.

IMV Projects
Head office: Calgary
Founded: 1999
Alberta employees: 499
What it does best: Rigorous policies governing health and safety in the workplace mix with a flexible work schedule that allows – get this – nap breaks.


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