4.7 C
Friday, January 24, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Safety at WNH extends beyond “call before you dig”

Waterloo North Hydro receives a pair of awards for its safety record, including psycholgoical efforts


News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Woolwich looks to add green projects as part of climate action plan

Planting trees remains Woolwich’s priority in rolling out a 0.5 per cent greening levy on property taxes again...


overcast clouds
4.7 ° C
6.7 °
2.8 °
69 %
90 %
4 °
2 °
1 °
-0 °
-2 °

A multi-pronged approach to safety, from the dangers posed to customer to the mental wellbeing of employees, has netted Waterloo North Hydro (WNH) a pair of prestigious national awards, particularly for their thorough work breaking down the barriers surrounding mental health.

The publically owned utility was the recipient of a gold award in the Psychological Safety category and a silver award in the Utilities and Electrical category from Canada’s Safest Employers during a special award ceremony held last week in Toronto.

“We’re a fairly safe organization; I don’t think that was a surprise that we won that one,” said  WNH spokesperson Jeff Quint. “The psychological safety one was something we were definitely surprised at.”

WNH introduced a corporate wellness program back in 2010 that has grown to include a robust mental health component. A psychological health and safety management program was incorporated in 2012 following the tragic death of an employee within the company.

Mental health first aid training, awareness programs, informative health-related sessions, and campaigns are all elements of this program.

“It’s simply enough training so that if you noticed someone’s behaviour is a little off, you would take the first step in asking ‘Are you okay?’ If they weren’t, that you help them to find the right help,” explained Quint on the mental health first aid training. Employees are further taught how to identify specific signs that someone may be struggling.

“Today, you might be good, but tomorrow you’re not. Every day changes, every day is different. It’s about breaking down barriers that make people more comfortable having those conversations.”

Awareness on the topic is also brought to the forefront through WNH’s support of Bell Let’s Talk Day, an annual initiative aimed at fighting the stigma associated with mental health. WNH also supports the Movember movement, a yearly event throughout November involving the growing of moustaches to raise awareness about men’s health issues.

WNH employees also participated in the Region of Waterloo’s five-week Road to Mental Well-Being campaign over the summer. Other more casual initiatives undertaken by WNH include workout classes, team-building sessions, and cooking classes.

Quint said that the program has transitioned from formal to more informal over the years – the efforts are all employee-driven.

“It’s the little things … it’s not one big momentous thing; we don’t go out and bring in a high-priced guest speaker,” said Quint. “It’s these little pieces that you keep slowly arming people with, and providing them so that they can build up their toolbox, so to speak.”

Examples of these little pieces could include an email or a consultation. WNH employs approximately 128 employees, who are encouraged to use as many resources as needed. Some may use all, while others may use just one component, said Quint. 

Employees and their spouses also have the option to attend a financial health session option that takes place after hours. These sessions help to de-stress attendees with their various money-related issues, including planning for retirement or working through a financial crisis.

“The mental health, well-being, and safety of our employees is always a top priority for Waterloo North Hydro,” said WNH’s president and CEO Rene Gatien in a statement. “We are honoured to be recognized with this award.”

The silver award was somewhat to be expected for the company; WNH has recorded more than five consecutive years with zero lost-time injuries. The organization also holds safety training sessions for first responders, contractors, and other community groups to improve public safety further.

“We educate customers on what they need to do with safety: how to be safe when a power line is down, call before you dig, what to do if a power line falls on your car, how far you should stay back,” said Quint, listing examples of what these public safety training sessions consist of.

Those who frequent community events may recognize ‘Lectric Larry, a retired WNH employee who delivers fun electrical safety sessions to students. Larry made presentations to 3,548 students, amounting to 85 percent of students within the WNH service territory, throughout 2018. His work is part of the School Safety Program, in which some 18,000 have participated since 2012.

WNH provides regulated electricity distribution services to 57,000 residential and business customers spanning 683 square kilometres in Wellesley, Woolwich and Waterloo. The utility is jointly owned by the three municipalities in proportion to their populations.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Catholic teachers join public board on the picket lines

Local Catholic elementary and high school teachers hit the picket lines Tuesday, marching up and down Arthur Street in Elmira as part of a one-day, province-wide strike. It’s not an...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Job vacancies become harder to fill in the townships

It’s becoming increasingly tough for employers to find the right candidates to fill vacancies, particularly in local and rural areas, says a new report...

Woolwich whittles down tax hike somewhat to 3.9%

Woolwich taxpayers are looking at a 3.9 per cent tax hike as councillors last week made a few tweaks to the budget, dropping...

Water and sewer rates to rise again this year, as Woolwich approves budget

Flush with cash or otherwise, you’ll be paying more again this year for turning on the taps and taking care of business in...

Jacks post first loss of 2020, but post wins on either side

A four-game winning streak to start the new year having come to an end Saturday, the Wellesley Applejacks rebounded Tuesday night to post...
- Advertisement -