Seeing safety as the 'sustainability imperative'


Gord Winkel’s occupational history revolves largely around Alberta’s oil sands, having managed operations for Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil and Syncrude Canada.

And he’s now bringing his experience in oil and gas workplace safety to the agriculture sector.

Currently the University of Alberta’s chair and Industrial Professor of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, Winkel is also the facilitator for Alberta’s AgCoalition, formed in 2016 as a response to the Bill 6 farm workplace legislation.

He refers to safety as “the sustainability imperative.”

“In our experience, safety is something that once you appreciate, it can be practically done,” says Winkel. “It’s not a cost but actually an investment, and, in fact, it’s synergistic with good production, and all the things that you would aspire to have on an agricultural operation.”

Winkel also recognizes that it’s not practical to change overnight based on a myriad of regulations imposed by government. What truly inspires positive change is doing the right thing for employees and colleagues, he says, noting he believes in a paced approach that builds on good work that’s already being done.

Speaking with Shaun Haney in the interview above, Winkel also announces the formation of the AgSafe Alberta Society, a producer-led organization that he says “takes leadership for how safety most practically can unwind in agriculture.”

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