Start Slow to Finish Strong

Start Slow to Finish Strong


March 2020
Workplace Safety Stories Motivation  

I love going to work from home in Halifax – especially when I get to visit with my friends at Exxon Mobil!  Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to share my story with them at many of their excellent Safe Starts and other internal Health and Safety events.  This is a company that strives for constant improvement.  Celebrating what is working well and then building upon it to make it better.   Each time I join them and sit and listen in on new safety developments I am always so impressed at their ability to keep their messaging consistent, yet new and exciting.

The last time I worked with Exxon Mobil the push was on to ‘Finish Strong’.  Meaning, even when the day is done, or a project is winding down – we don’t let our guard down – we stay the course to ensure that #nobodygetshurt.

While preparing my message this time,  I noticed they have added to their powerful message of Finish Strong.  Now, it’s “start slow to finish strong” – I love this!

A placard given to me by my late Grammy Mullin hangs on my wall.  It reads “the Hurrier I go the Behinder I get”, an ever-present reminder of my very special grandmother, and also to slow down.  It was the perfect accompaniment to complement my message for the morning.

I grabbed it off my wall as I walked out the door -and wrapped it up to protect it (which is what we should with things that are precious, dear to us and irreplaceable, right – like ourselves! How’d ya like my PPE metaphor;) and I brought it to share as a reminder that going fast rarely saves time.  In fact, rushing often causes stress, dangerous situations and sometimes results in injury.

Safety doesn’t have to be complicated – Grammy Mullin wasn’t – she knew that simply slowing down in life was one of the best ways to stay happy, safe, and focused on what matters most – being present and healthy to spend time with the people you’re really working for – your family!!


Candace Carnahan
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Because I Care.

Because I Care.

Because I Care


June 2019

The National Day of Mourning was last month. At the time, I shared some reflections.

Over the years I’ve also thought about this, and other,  “Days of…”, and how they do a very good job of raising awareness of a particular issue on a particular day. But the real work comes after the Day – and every day.

On the National Day of Mourning, I was flying to Ottawa feeling grateful for the dinner I had planned with Dee, one of my dearest friends from university – the kind of friend that you’re already all caught up with no matter how much time has passed between visits.  

We had plans to toast a new baby, new love, and mostly the gratitude that after all of these years, and busy lives, we still manage to make these impromptu dinners happen more often than not.

In the midst of libations and laughs, out of the corner of my eye and my ear I see the bartender standing on the top step of a ladder to reach a bottle high up.  The ladder isn’t all that high, and this everyday action may not even have registered had I not heard the co-worker caution her about the safety of being on the top rung. She responded somewhat jokingly, “What are you, the safety police.”

Her co-worker responded “Well yes, I’m on the JOHS committee, but that’s not the point. It’s because I care.”

Because I care…

My mile a minute chatter came to an abrupt halt.  Dee, knowing me very well, recognized the significance of this.  

I couldn’t really believe what I thought I had seen and heard, so as I sometimes do, I jumped into their conversation. “Did you just ask her to step down from that ladder and cite the reason as caring?”, I asked.

Yes, I had heard right.  

One of the questions I am asked most often is how to communicate discomfort about a situation, or to call out plainly unsafe behaviour to a co-worker in a manner that will be well received.  

While I struggle with the fact that people still take offence when someone makes the time to reach out in an effort to ensure their safety, I know that it’s still a reality.  

The question that I have struggled to respond to confidently for so many years had now been answered.  This was an interaction between two people that while very light in tone, held significant weight.

There are (and will) continue to be disagreement about what constitutes appropriate safety measures in the workplace. Personal safety is just that – personal.  But while ideas may differ, regulations are in place and they are there for a reason – and when the time comes that someone needs to be reminded, try using “Because I care”.



Candace Carnahan

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Day of Mourning – 2019

Day of Mourning – 2019

Day of Mourning – 2019


APRIL, 2019


Today is a day to remember.  A day to give pause in recognition of so many who lost their lives at work.  Those who died making a living. For me, it also signifies, and calls to mind, all of the details of the day that my life as I knew it changed.  I was one of the lucky ones who survived what countless others did not – I didn’t return home at the end of the work day, but I did eventually go home.  

What could have been my ending, turned out to be a new beginning.  For that I am eternally grateful. As I sit quietly this morning – the Day of Mourning – sipping my coffee, I give pause and I think of my own family, knowing that no matter how many years pass, the day that changes your life forever will always feel like yesterday… if you’ll allow yourself to revisit.  If you can summon up the strength to go there.

I believe today, it’s important to make that journey, as it is through reflection that we not only remember the past, but we also reset for the future and consider the role we plan to play in making our world a safer place to work.  A place where getting hurt or killed at work is in no way part of the job.

While mourning and hope aren’t typically thought to go hand and hand, making time and space for our grief is a continuous part of the coping process –  a process that will for many, never end. It is my thought that hope often times defeats helplessness. That taking positive action towards preventing what we failed to do in the past may not lessen the pain, but can offer us purpose.  

Today, there are services taking place in communities nationwide to commemorate the Day of Mourning.  We can also choose to honour those lives lost by visiting a space within ourselves where we truly think about our actions, and commit to improving on an aspect in our lives that directly relates to safety.  We can all do “onethingsafer”.

We can all do “onethingsafer”.

Candace Carnahan

Thank you to the Toronto Star for shedding much needed light on this important day – and allowing me to share my story .. to read the complete online version click here

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PPE- You’re wearing it.

PPE- You’re wearing it.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – you’re wearing it.


April, 2019

You may not know it, but you are already wearing the most effective and powerful PPE money can’t buy.

It’s your instinct. You’re born with it. An employer will not hand it over to you, you can’t purchase it at a store, and you don’t need a lesson in learning how to use it. Your instinct is one of the most powerful pieces of PPE you’ll never take off.

Yet sometimes we choose not to use it.

Why is that? Personal protective equipment isn’t about protecting machinery, infrastructure, or profit. It’s about protecting people. And regardless of your work experience or industry, everyone comes to work with this same piece of equipment.

Think about what would happen if we paused when our instinct kicked in. How many times have you said to yourself, “I knew that was going to happen” but only after something, often times unpleasant, unplanned, or unfavorable actually happens?  If our gut is sending us strong signals, why do we choose to ignore them – to hit the override button and continue on?

Is it lack of confidence in our ability or judgement? Are we overly optimistic? Or, is the powerful and human condition of believing that the bad things can happen (but just not to us), driving us to ignore the voice that doesn’t make a sound but speaks volumes – our own.

I can’t answer these questions for you, but I can suggest that you ask them of yourself. And here’s what might happen if you developed a closer relationship to your instincts; the more you listen to them, the harder they become to ignore. The harder they become to ignore, the more helpful they become to you. Your instincts can keep you safe.

As champions for safety, our role is to listen to our own instincts and to respect the instincts of those around us. Let’s try trusting our instincts as #onethingsafer.



Candace Carnahan

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Labour Day – Intro to Fall 2018

Labour Day – Intro to Fall 2018

Labour Day 2018


Sept, 2018

For many of us, including me, Labour Day signals the final days of our short but sweet Canadian summer.  While safety doesn’t slow down for summer, I certainly did this year! After a relaxing break at the cottage, I am recharged and ready to rock – returning to life on the road, with several exciting events planned from Montreal to Melbourne and many stops in between.

As we make our plans and prepare to enjoy our last long weekend of the season, let’s not forget what we are celebrating.  Labour Day came to be as a day designated for workers, giving them the chance to campaign for better working conditions – including safer working conditions.  

Workplaces are becoming healthier and safer, more inclusive and increasingly aware of the importance of returning the workers they have borrowed from their families home to them safely.

Thanks to the members of the Toronto Trade Assembly who organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for workers rights in 1872,  we not only have a have a reason to celebrate, we also have the right to return to a safe and healthy workplace. Hip Hip Hooray!

I will be returning to work, and to the inagural TImmins Health and Safety Conference hosted by Workplace Safety North!

Check out my radio interview with with more on me and the conference at CBC Up North

Candace Carnahan

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