Everyone has a “why” — a purpose for our efforts. For Alicia Valliere, Environment and Safety Manager at Fort Hills, her father is her why for working safely. “My dad was in a serious workplace explosion that forever changed him and our family,” said Alicia in a recent all-company webcast. “I come to work each day in honour of him and to ensure that every interaction I have will have a positive result and every person will feel as passionate as I do.”

Initiatives such as the Why I work safe campaign at Suncor’s Fort Hills site focuses on the important things in life and on the things, we do every day that help us achieve our why. The campaign, which rolled out in February, encourages employees to display a picture of their “why” for working safely on the back of their lanyard card and why interventions are critical. Many people are wearing pictures of their children and partners, and it serves as a reminder of what’s at stake when safety isn’t the priority. It also acts as a bit of an icebreaker at work, explains Alicia, “It’s about getting to know a person beyond the surface level, that way we are invested in caring for each other so everyone can get home safely.”

In addition to the Why I work safe campaign, Fort Hills names a Monthly Hazard Champion — an employee who recognizes hazards and implements controls. “Our hazard champions serve as role models and mentors to their colleagues, ensuring safety is always a top priority,” says Alicia.

A group of three employees posing with the monthly hazard champion belt
February’s Monthly Hazard Champion. Left to right: AJ Larsen (shop supervisor), Jon Hanley (hazard champion for the month), and Greg McNichol (FH Cares member)

Another campaign that brings personability to Suncor’s safety program is the Weekly WHY, deployed by turnaround contractors at the Sarnia refinery. This campaign inspires the workforce to share their reasons for getting home safely. Trevor Richard, Senior Safety Advisor, showed his participation by noting that his commitment to safety isn’t just a responsibility; it’s a promise to protect the ones he loves most.

“Working safely isn't just about me—it's about ensuring my kids have a dad who comes home every day, healthy and happy,” says Trevor. “Every time I’m in a processing unit or double-checking procedures, I think of their smiles, their laughter, and their future. I want to be there for every milestone, every hug, every bedtime story, and I want others to be able to do the same.”

Additionally, at the Sarnia refinery, employees and contractors participate in a yearly Start Strong, Finish Strong campaign where people share quotes on why they work safely. “Finishing strong means providing for my wife and my dogs and getting home safely to them,” says Alex McDonald, an Aluma carpenter, in one of the posters.

Suncor’s focus on safety runs across its operating areas, Base Plant has Why we work safely bulletin boards that serve as a constant reminder there are loved ones waiting for our frontline to return home safely after shift. Employees and contractors feature photos of their “why” on the bulletin boards.

Meanwhile, Syncrude has a Fail Safe Report that uses videos to cover important safety topics in an engaging way. People consistently provide positive feedback, stating that they watch the videos during lineups, toolbox talks, and safety meetings further highlighting the importance of these videos.

No matter where you work, safety must always be above all else, and everyone is responsible for working safely for themselves, their colleagues and their “why.”