Safety Proactivity

Techmation Electric & Controls provides a complete range of electrical and instrumentation services to all facets of the commercial and heavy industrial sectors. Their services range from major facility construction to plant expansions and upgrades, and their experienced and dedicated office and field staff are trained to assist clients with all aspects of planning and implementation.

Since being incorporated in 1995, they have grown to operate a fleet of more than 500 service vehicles, and employ more than 1200 personnel. With 26 locations, Techmation is now one of the largest independent electrical and instrumentation service providers within the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.

Vice President of Operations, Roland Polsfut, has been with Techmation since 1998. He credits the company’s extraordinary growth to a number of factors, including their industry-leading customer service. According to Polsfut, Techmation forms close partnerships with clients and focuses on meeting and exceeding their expectations with regards to project execution, scheduling and budgets. This approach has led to Techmation repeatedly qualifying as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies since 2012.

Another factor driving Techmation’s success, Polsfut adds, is their exceptional safety record. In spite of their many unique challenges, the company has gone 13 years without a lost-time incident, and has experienced declining total recordable incident frequency (TRIF) rates. Over the past three years in particular, the overall TRIF average has been 0.49, while vehicles rates have declines from 0.90 in 2011 to 0.74 in 2013.

Health and Safety Manager ,Tyler Smith, has been with Techmation since 2008, and was promoted to his current role two years ago. He says the company’s safety focus starts at the top, with President Derek Polsfut, and has been in place all along. In recent years, the company has simply had to reinforce that focus to keep up with expansion and growth.

“As we’ve grown throughout Western Canada, we’ve experienced some challenges gathering our leading indicators, which we use to calculate our TRIF,” Polsfut explains. “It was tough to get the accurate reporting that we needed in a quick time frame. So when Tyler came on board, we discussed how we could get better at that.”
The solution was an online tool called Optic, which allows for the data-entry of all the company’s leading safety indicators at a branch level. Optic then allows Techmation to identify trends within that data quickly and accurately, which in turn enables them to implement changes to their safety program in an intelligent and efficient way.

“We are now able to get our safety reporting quickly, identify high risk trends, and then react to them,” Polsfut explains.

“It allows us to be proactive,” Smith adds. “At the end of the year, we know where our high risk areas are, and we can focus on them in the upcoming year, and try to eliminate as many hazards as possible in those areas.”

Detailed training

Techmation has been an industry-leader when it comes to safety and compliance for many years now, and has only become more of a forerunner as time goes on. According to both Polsfut and Smith, that continued leadership is a result of the company’s longstanding focus on training.

“When a new hire walks through the door, they are required to complete a two-day training session,” Smith explains. “That doesn’t include the training that they are required to have prior to coming to Techmation. All new hires participate in alcohol, drug, and fitness testing, before they go through our new e-learning orientation, which ensures all our workers are 100 per cent compliant in regards to daily tasks that they will be required to do.”
From there, Techmation conducts continual in-house and in-person training on a variety of other relevant subjects.
“Our training is very detailed,” Smith adds. “When our employees begin their first day on the job with Techmation, the training doesn’t stop. That’s just the introduction.”

“The managers speak to each worker, and make sure they know what’s required out in the field,” he continues. “There are orientations on every new site, and our journeymen employees mentor and train our apprentices.”
“We’re a big believer that our apprentices are going to be our future leaders,” Polsfut says. “So we have to train them appropriately, so they’ll take on that culture of safety they’ve been exposed to since day one. That’s important.”

That culture of safety is valued by all Techmation stakeholders, Polsfut adds, including their employees – many of whomare long-term, having been with Techmation for five, 10, or even 15 years. According to Polsfut, those employees have stuck around in part because they know that their health and wellbeing is a top priority for Techmation.

Techmation’s focus on safety is also important to their clients – who tend to have health and safety cultures that align nicely with Techmation’s.

“We want to work with clients that have a well-developed health and safety program themselves, and expect the best health and safety performance from their contractors,” Polsfut explains. “And we want our employees to know that they’re going to work under the very best safety conditions.”

Canada’s Safest Employers Gold Award recognized

In October of last year, Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine announced the winners of the 2014 Canada’s Safest Employers Award. Those awards recognise companies from across Canada with outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of their workers. The award boasts 12 industry-specific categories, ranging from hospitality to mining and natural resources.

Companies submitted for the Safest Employers Award are judged on a wide range of occupational health and safety elements including employee training, OHS management systems, incident investigation, emergency preparedness and innovative health and safety initiatives. Techmation Electric & Controls was successful as the 2014 Gold Award winner for the Oil and Gas category.

“This is the type of award we really value,” Polsfut says. “It’s interesting, because we are compared against companies of various disciplines that work in the oil and gas industry. To be able to come out as the gold award winner is an amazing and encouraging achievement.”

“It validates that what we are doing is right, and that we are on the right track,” he adds. “It’s also an award we can share with our clients, vendors and subcontractors. To me, that award demonstrates security, longevity, and a good future. It shows that Techmation is a low risk contractor and the type of company that our clients want to partner with.”

Smith ultimately credits that gold award recognition to the hard work and dedication of Techmation’s employees.
“It’s a pat on their back,” he says. “They’re proud to say they work for one of Canada’s Safest Employers. It’s also a comfort to their families.”

Moving forward, Smith and Polsfut agree that Techmation will continue down the path they are on, and stay at the forefront of health and safety.

“We want to win this gold award again next year,” Smith says. “That all goes back to keeping the culture alive and not getting complacent. We’re going to continue educating our employees, we’re going to continue with ongoing training, and we’re going to keep implementing new programs wherever we see there is room for improvement. We already have a lot in store for 2015.”