School division safety manager to chair provincial association
Linden Lonsberry, safety manager with the Chinook’s Edge School Division, has been elected to the position of chair of the Alberta Education Health and Safety Association (AEHSA).
In a Gazette interview, Lonsberry explained the new position will give him opportunities to ensure school and student safety remains a high priority across the province, including in Chinook’s Edge.
“Chinook’s Edge is one of the few educational institutes in the province that has a Certificate of Recognition (from Alberta Education for its safety program) and it’s really my aim to share this information and to ensure safety throughout educational institutes,” said Lonsberry.
“I’ve been mentoring several of the other school divisions in Central Alberta and now I have the opportunity to take that to a provincial level. We will be getting other school divisions to develop safety programs and raising the level of safety in all educational institutes, right from university to trades to public schools.”
There are 40 schools in the West Central Alberta Chinook’s Edge School Division.
The AEHSA has 82 member organizations, ranging from kindergarten to universities. It was formed in 2001 to develop education industry safety practice standards and to promote safe learning environments for faculty, staff, students and visitors.
“They share best practices with one another and collaborate with government agencies to develop, implement, maintain and evaluate effective health and safety management systems,” he said.
Lonsberry spearheaded the development of the safety program for Chinook’s Edge School Division, leading the division to a status of Certificate of Recognition, which is an accomplishment shared by only a handful of other school divisions in Alberta.
Today Chinook’s Edge has attained the highest standards in a multitude of safety areas, including identifying hazard assessments, providing safety training to all staff, completing detailed inspection reports and providing appropriate followup on any safety issues, he explained.
Sharing of ideas and experiences is helpful in keeping education safety programs current and moving forward, he said.
“I see what our safety program has done for Chinook’s Edge and I think others can benefit by learning from what we have achieved together,” he said. “Chinook’s Edge has really adopted a culture of optimal safety, and a great deal of hard work has been accomplished in our schools and facilities.
“Now we can take that further and help mentor other organizations to help increase the effectiveness of their safety programs.”
In his new position Lonsberry will not only share his knowledge with other safety experts, but will also be learning new approaches, he said.
“With the information sharing someone has always got a better idea,” he said. “Although we have the safety program in place I may be able to find some stuff that can help us better our program.”
Colin McAleer, past-chair and division safety officer with High Prairie School Division, said Lonsberry has an important job ahead.
“Linden’s position as chair is critical, because he provides direct leadership to us and to the board,” said McAleer. “By working together the association can eliminate a lot of duplication, which allows us to accomplish more.
“We learn a lot from each other and, as we create new processes and methods for sharing information, the leadership role of the chair is vital to ensuring we make an effective impact.”