Small Business Health and Safety Leadership Awards

2021 award winners announced

The recipients of the Small Business Health and Safety Leadership Awards were announced during our Celebration of Health and Safety event on November 25, 2021:

Gold level – Tara Natural Foods, Kingston, $5,000

Tara Natural Foods has been a staple in downtown Kingston since 1987. Operating as a natural foods retailer and wholesaler, they offer a wide variety of quality organic produce and wellness products – but they’re better known for being a friendly neighbourhood stop for many residents.
Early on in the pandemic, the management team at Tara Natural Foods made significant efforts to implement preventative measures and practices to protect their employees and enable them to remain open for their customers. They moved quickly, and before there were any public mandates about safety measures they provided their employees with masks, reduced the number of customers allowed in their store and installed plexi-glass at their cash register. They also took the extra step to cover lost wages that resulted from reduced hours; they paid their employees pre-pandemic wages to make sure no one suffered as a result of their safety measures. 
Ensuring each team member felt supported through this challenging time was important to Tara Natural Foods. By continuously evolving their plan with new procedures and staff training, their team makes a valiant effort to ensure their employees go home healthy and safe at the end of each day.

Silver level – First General Muskoka, Huntsville, $3,000

First General Muskoka is a construction company that has provided emergency and catastrophic home restoration services to the Huntsville community for more than 16 years. They believe health and safety goes beyond preventing workplace incidents and injuries – it starts with cultivating a safe and healthy work culture that prioritizes a strong, positive workplace attitude.
Following an incident where an employee took their own life, the management team at First General Muskoka has made their employees’ mental health a key priority in their health and safety efforts. Over the past year, they’ve enhanced their Worker Wellbeing Program to better address and support mental health issues – both inside and outside the workplace.

First General Muskoka recognizes that mental health is 24/7 – not just 9-5. Workplace wellbeing isn’t just something they talk about; they embody it through their practice by living it each and every day.

Bronze level – Aardvark Drilling Inc., Guelph, $2,000

Based in Guelph, Aardvark Drilling Inc. provides drilling services to communities across Ontario on projects such as environmental drilling, hydrogeological and mineral exploration for over 19 years. They’re focused on keeping their people safe from every type of injury and illness. The goal of their safety program is simple: strive for an incident-free workplace. 
In the beginning stages of the pandemic, the management team recognized that they needed a COVID-19 safety plan to ensure each team member felt supported. This plan helped them figure out what they needed to do to reduce potential exposures and maintain a safe working environment. It helped them with things like their robust approach to securing personal protective equipment providing additional accommodation supports to employees working out of town, and opening lines of communications between management and employees to address concerns that employees had.
Aardvark Drilling Inc. made it known that their leadership team is invested in ensuring their employees have the necessary resources needed to feel safe in the workplace.

2022 Small Business Health and Safety Leadership Awards    

Submissions for the 2022 awards are due next spring/early summer – we’ll post more information in the coming months. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the awards, please email us at