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Acapulco Pools drives positive workplace behaviour and practices to improve performance

What challenges were faced and how were they overcome?

Pool professional tiling a pool surface.
In terms of project planning, the company started to standardize the safety items and documents that were required at each jobsite, which set the tone for workers and their responsibilities on-site.

While the diverse nature of Acapulco’s workforce is one of its best attributes, it also posed challenges along the way. There is a wide range of knowledge and experience, technological ability, age, and comfort with English as a first language. When the company went digital, it allowed for a transition period to ensure all worker’s had time to adapt and learn the new software being presented. Providing additional support where needed, even if it meant giving training in a different format, or even in a different language, was important.

When there is change ahead, it concerns people who may be content with ‘the way things are.’ As Acapulco brought in new technologies and training, as well as new policies and procedures, the company knew it was going to take time for some people to accept the changes. During this time, the company was as transparent as possible and provided support in any way it could. Eventually most people came around and even admitted using the tablets was easier than the previous method for completing paperwork.

The need for perfection can bring progress to a halt. The audit tool can become quite overwhelming and, as a result, it is easy to focus on the numbers and reaching that 100 per cent. It is important to take an honest look at a company’s health and safety program when performing an audit and then set small, reasonable goals to make it to the finish line. Acapulco used its annual action plans to monitor progress year after year, and as it got closer to having all of the COR elements completed, it began to set weekly and monthly goals leading up to its submission. This allowed the company to finish an item thoroughly before moving on to the next step. After all, a company can never be perfectly safe and there is always room for improvement.

Making sure all employees were onboard with this goal

Acapulco Pools started with a shift in safety culture.
Acapulco Pools started with a shift in safety culture, which meant all aspects of the business were adapted in to reach the end goal.

Acapulco quickly learned that to get genuine buy in from its employees, their input was integral. For this reason, all of the company’s safe work practices and procedures were developed by different trades alongside management, and reviewed by its joint occupational health and safety committee. It was important for Acapulco to use its most valuable resources, its workers, to ensure they had a safety program that works for them.

Having visible support from management was also important to get employee buy-in of the program and to reach the subsequent goal. The management team, from the onset, has lead by example and provided support on the administrative side and on the jobsite. In part, Acapulco started to hold supervisor workshops and made sure all site supervisors and workers had the training they needed to work safely.

Acapulco also likes to celebrate milestones and ensure positive behaviour is recognized, as this helps morale and promotes the safety culture. For instance, the company holds an annual start-up meeting that includes information about the year ahead, a safety re-orientation, and then a party that is open to all employees and their families. Acapulco also developed an incentive program that is safety based to reward and recognize exemplary safety actions and behaviours.

What does it mean to be COR certified?

Acapulco’s COR certification is a great feat. It has been a few years of hard work, dedication, and long hours for the entire team, and is a proud achievement for every employee. This author has had the pleasure to be part of this journey every step of the way and was thrilled to receive the news when the company obtained this standard of safety excellence in Canada. The team’s hard work, blood, sweat, and tears had finally paid off.

Many may think now that the company has this certification that it is time to lay back and relax; however, it is quite the opposite. The Acapulco team is dedicated to improvement and still has goals from its 2017 action plan that it wants to accomplish this year. While the COR certification is valid for three years, it involves a submission of an internal audit with all applicable documentation due on the anniversary date of the certification. This will be reviewed by a COR auditor and must be approved to remain in good standing. The auditor will also be looking for changes the company has implemented or areas where it has improved because of the recommendations made at the external audit.

Looking forward, Acapulco plans to apply for COR certification in other provinces, which means there is still some work ahead. Therefore, it is important for the company, at this time, to remain consistent, maintain current programs, and continue its forward progress.

Author’s note: Acapulco Pools thanks everyone who has contributed to safety in the workplace over the years, as well as those who played an integral role in preparing for the COR audit. This goal would not have been achievable without the hard work and dedication of all employees.

Nicole OosterveldNicole Oosterveld is the health and safety manager for Acapulco Pools. She oversees day-to-day safety on jobsites, in the office, and implements new safety policies, procedures, and training. Oosterveld holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology, sociology, and education, which made it an effortless transition for her into health and safety management. She can be reached via e-mail at

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