By Judy Bird

A new organization aims to help First Nations in Saskatchewan with occupational health and safety in an effort to have injury-free workplaces on reserves.

The Saskatchewan First Nation Safety Association (SFNSA) officially began July 1, and will be approaching First Nations, tribal councils and First Nation businesses to help them with their occupational health and safety needs in their organizations.

“The mission of the Saskatchewan First Nation Safety Association is to empower First Nation communities to live injury free, supported by the belief that well-informed communities are recapturing the philosophy of community-based safety,” said Toby Desnomie, CEO of the SFNSA.

“It will reduce human and financial losses associated with public and workers occupational health and safety issues from every spectrum,” he added.

Desnomie as been working in Occupational health and safety for about 16 years. He started TGD Training and Consulting after he saw the need for occupational health and safety training on First Nations. He remains focused on health and safety for First Nations, but has moved on to this new venture because he saw the need for an organization like this one to exist.

SFNSA has five guiding principles for its mission: public safety awareness, advice, advocacy, training, and safety management strategies.

“One of the things that we identified is that First Nations, with respect to occupation health and safety, is that there needs to be some quantifiable data that we can start to look at to see what are actually the needs and wants of the First Nation communities. The first step is going to communities, engaging them, having a public awareness sessions to see how we can help in any way, shape or form with respect to occupational health and safety,” said Desnomie.

“Anybody paid to do a task or duty falls under occupation and health. That means anybody that is working for a First Nation would fall under our mission statement to help advocate, to train and to help communicate public safety awareness,” he said.

“Our mission to be that bridge for First Nations to industry as well as to other components of the health and safety regime, that is, other health and safety organizations out there, and helping them engage in meaningful ways for advocacy.”

The SFNSA will also have its first annual conference October 20th in Saskatoon. “That is going to be our opening engagement with First Nation communities, to engage them and start a discussion about occupational health and safety on First Nations,” said Desnomie.

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