Paul Kells

Paul’s 19 year old son Sean died in a workplace explosion in 1994. Following an inquest into Sean’s death, Paul was drawn to a new mission – to support and build safer workplace cultures, reducing risk, saving lives and diminishing the ripple effects of devastating workplace injuries on everyone. Paul Kells is a culture expert and business accelerator. By applying the principles of engagement and techniques in shaping culture he helps organizations achieve their goals. Paul specializes in helping owner operated mid-size organizations with 50-500 employees increase the value of their company. He has advised and assisted CEOs and senior management of some of Canada’s largest national and international business organizations in communicating profound cultural change to their workforces.

Following an inquest into Sean’s death, Paul was drawn to a new mission – to support and build safer workplace cultures, reducing risk, saving lives and diminishing the ripple effects of devastating workplace injuries on everyone.

Paul’s earlier professional experience as a senior journalist and as leader of two communication firms specialized in stakeholder and employee relations had equipped him with the tools he needed to take on this challenge. And so he did.

His efforts to make workplaces and communities safer through the power of awareness and community action brought more than 5,000 volunteers to the cause acrossCanada. Young worker injury rates declined most significantly in the provinces he and his member communities were most engaged.

Paul founded Safe Communities Canada in 1996 ultimately designating over 60 communities as network members in Canada. He helped international leaders build similar organizations in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

Safe Communities grew to be one of the four major nationally recognized injury prevention organizations in Canada and Paul helped lead efforts in 2012 to merge all four together into one major Canadian Injury Prevention organization, now called “Parachute”.

During this time, Paul also spent time traveling to and speaking at individual workplaces across the country helping employees, supervisors and management align around workplace safety, particularly for young people.

To assist in reaching greater numbers of companies and young people in schools, Paul converted and expanded one of his member communities classroom-based creations, Passport to Safety and pulled together 50 volunteers from across Canada to re-fashion it as a web-based, e-learning program.

This online program is focused on creating awareness about the rights and responsibilities on the job for youth, before they enter the workforce. It has become a nationally recognized standard of health and safety awareness for young workers. Since 2004 over 500,000 teens in four countries have completed it.

His third charitable initiative, Threads of Life, continues to help families across Canada cope with their personal devastation from workplace fatalities while advocating for workplace safety and injury reduction.

His work as a champion, volunteer and leader has led to an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law (Acadia University), the Order of Ontario, Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal and the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals. He has been an Advisor on the U.S. National Safety Council’s Board of Delegates, holds Ontario’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Volunteerism and is a member of its Volunteer Hall of Fame.

Presentation Description & Topics

Culture First

This session focuses on engaging people to reassert their core values and mission to arrive at a shared purpose that will lead to accelerated growth, sustainability and organizational health

Workplace Safety

Every injury yet to happen potentially includes our family members and friends who are still at risk. Each “statistic” is a face; the face of a human being that someone else loves. In this session, Paul gives a face to workplace injury.

Respect Matters

Respect Matters represents a new way of thinking about safety. There is a high risk of injury, both mental and physical, when people do not report hazards and inappropriate behaviours. Often people make these choices because of power imbalances. Managers, supervisors and peers need to understand and recognize these imbalances in order to reduce the risks.

Psychological Health and Safety

The session helps align and accelerate people and their organizations at the early stages of implementing a more positive, inspiring, healthier and safer workplace culture.

Hear what others have to say

An engaging communicator and passionate speaker, Paul continues to inspire audiences with his story and pragmatic approach to changing organizational culture and has worked with numerous organizations to effect real and lasting change in organizational practices.” – Kevin Kelloway, ‎Canada Research Chair and Professor at Saint Mary’s University

“Thank you for connecting Mr Kells, you actually changed my life. I originally became involved in Behavioural Safety to win my son a new bicycle by completing safety observations at work. As a result I was chosen to travel from the UK to a conference in Texas. As it turned out, I attended your session. I had nothing short of an epiphany! I’m still unsure whether it was your delivery, talking with the passion only such a loss can drive, or as a father of four and my reflection on how this would impact my life. Whatever it was, ‘you got me.’ And though it’s brought both satisfaction and pain, I am eternally grateful. The change was obvious to those who knew me. It drove and continues to drive so much of my life. I am unable to ‘walk on by’. The inability to ignore that which others do has invaded my whole life. It has saved some heartache, but also placed me in harms way, irrespective of justification, intervention is not always well received. There have been few people who have genuinely shaped my life, you have. Thank you.” – Workshop Participant

“Your presentation to our group was great and the room was ‘a-buzz’ after you left. You and collaborators are doing great things and folks are very appreciative of it. Keep up the good work!” – Jeff Brett, OHS Practitioner