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1,200 days and counting

Toronto, January 8, 2014

By Patricia Favre

Carpenter Tony Araujo is reminded about safety as he looks in the mirror.
Carpenter Tony Araujo is reminded about safety as he looks in the mirror. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Anyone who was a fan of the 1980s cop drama Hill Street Blues probably remembers the head sergeant who ended roll call each morning with, "And hey, let's be careful out there."

The Department of Engineering and Plant Services at St. Michael’s Hospital has a similar mantra.

The engineering team meets with its supervisors every morning to discuss safety issues and how the team should address them. It gives team members an open forum to discuss anything they’ve come across or issues they could see arising. At the end of the meeting, one of the supervisors always delivers a message about staying safe.

Engineering and Plant Services has gone roughly 1,200 days without anyone losing time to an injury.

“That’s a remarkable achievement in a living, breathing facility where there’s high voltage, high temperatures, steam and moving parts,” said Ken Jones, manager of engineering.

In addition to the morning meetings, the team meets semi-annually to look at physical plant safety and to vote on safety initiatives that addresses the top concerns. This has included building platforms on the mechanical floors where ceiling heights can reach 40 feet.

“While these initiatives help create a safe environment, our philosophy is that we need to empower each person,” said Jones. “To do this, to keep the momentum going, we nudge them a little with daily reminders.”

The daily reminders that Jones speaks of are everywhere from words of encouragement inscribed on the basement walls to stickers on the bathroom mirrors that say “meet the person most responsible for your safety.”

“The onus is on us, on staff, to be safe,” said Tony Araujo, a carpenter. “If we face a situation that we know is risky, we’re the ones that have to speak up.”

At the end of the day, Jones, the engineering supervisors and all the staff just want to make sure that everyone goes home to their families in one piece.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.