Safety Champion: Michael Lindberg

Safety Champion: Michael Lindberg

​​Cooking Up Safety: Meet Michael Lindberg, Safety Champion

Michael Lindberg, culinary arts instructor at R.B. Russell Vocational High School "If you're not safe, you don't get a job." That's what Michael Lindberg, culinary arts instructor at R.B. Russell Vocational High School (R.B. Russell), peppers his students with. He should know. He's been part of the workforce since he was 14 years old.

When he was 18, Lindberg witnessed an accident in one of the kitchen's he was working in. A co-worker received only a minor knife cut to his hand, but fainted from the sight of the blood and hit his head on a mixer, and never went back to work. Knife handling training hadn't been provided.

"If training was there that probably wouldn't have happened. It opened my eyes to take things seriously and to become as knowledgeable as I could about safety in the kitchen."

Lindberg, now 36, was nominated to be a Safety Champion because of his passion for safe work. He's been an instructor at R.B. Russell since September 2015, and a member of the workplace safety and health committee since he joined the faculty. He says safety is extremely important to both the school and the Winnipeg School Division, and that's why he gutted the existing program when he became an instructor.

"Now, every student has to sign off on safety before they can even get into the kitchen," he says. "They have to know every piece of equipment, safe work procedures and WHMIS (the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)."

Changing lives through safe work

He says R.B. Russell is unlike any other school in the city when it comes to safety because the division mandates that all students get training. "Because of that we teach them beyond what the industry standard is. The students have to do hazard assessments, tutorials and food handling training."

R.B. Russell is in Winnipeg's North End just north of the Slaw Rebchuck Bridge. Many students have family, social and economic challenges outside of school.

"This is their safe place," Lindberg says. "I teach them the right way, the safe way to do things and that will help them with their future. They've been through a lot in their lives."

"If I can pass along safety knowledge, they will be more employable," he says. "It's a selling feature for students if they already know how to work safely. It helps me sell them to the workforce."

Lindberg has seen a change in his students since they started the culinary program.

"They have gained confidence. When the health inspector comes in to talk to my students, they try to stump him to make sure he knows his stuff," he laughs. "It's great to see because it's making a difference in their lives as well as in the community."

When it comes to safety, Lindberg says you have to be passionate about it for your workers (students in his case).  

"Having a safe environment makes things so much easier in the long run. So, why wouldn't you make sure your workers are prepared?"

Do you know someone who is standing up for safety? If so, we would love to hear about them. Nominate a Safety Champion today – Click to email us!
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