Halifax Partnership
July 19, 2017

Creating a safety culture movement

The need for greater workers’ safety awareness fuels CEO Stephen Sayle’s passion to build SayleGroup Inc., a company that is digitizing and revolutionizing how safety cultures are built within organizations in Nova Scotia and around the world. 

“Do workers know their safety rights and responsibilities?” asks Stephen. “Do companies think providing safety training or equipment costs too much? In reality, strong workplace safety is directly linked to a more profitable company.” 

Stephen worked for 20 years in the oil and gas sector with the most advanced safety risk management practices in the world, but had always longed to start his own company.

“The Ivany Report says that Nova Scotia needs entrepreneurs to thrive. Reading this was the final motivation I needed to start a company that would create jobs, be exportable and foster an international safety culture movement similar to anti-bullying or wearing a seatbelt,” says Stephen. 

Choosing Halifax was easy. “I’d attended Dalhousie University and my wife is from Antigonish. We met in Asia and have lived overseas, but we’ve always loved Halifax. It has big city amenities with a small-town feel,” says Stephen. 

SayleGroup has a comprehensive approach to safety, providing safety system leadership for organizations trying to win business in supply chain opportunities in all sectors. In 2016, the company created an affordable online course that characterizes “safety culture” for companies of all sizes, and developed an app that enables real-time job safety assessments and data entry.  The app eliminates the need for paper, making it easier for those working in the field to keep a safety record regardless of the physical and weather conditions they are working in, and highlights trends, issues and challenges that require attention.

The SayleGroup Safety Culture Works Program philosophy transcends the historical approach of “people breaking machines and machines breaking people” toward understanding that behaviours, attitudes, and mental health also impact workplace safety – one of the key reasons SayleGroup was awarded the 2017 Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s New Business of the Year.

Being an expert in health, safety, and environmental practices, however, did not prepare Stephen for the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur.

“It’s been a rollercoaster getting to this point,” says Stephen. “You can’t do it alone. I’m grateful to ACOA, NSBI, CIBC, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and the Halifax Partnership’s SmartBusiness Program.” 

“SmartBusiness Account Executive Minder Singh saved us huge amounts of time, kept us focused and ensured our time and resources got the greatest payback. He provided us with guidance on funding programs that would work for us,” says Stephen. 

“As a new business owner, I knew there were a myriad of programs available to help us grow but it was confusing and overwhelming. I was so busy keeping up with day-to-day business. SmartBusiness was like a one-stop shopping portal for us.”