The term “occupational health and safety” brings to mind signs that are posted (and ignored) in break rooms and stringent guidelines for how to lift or carry heavy objects on the job. Behind it, however, is a reality that many people likely take for granted: the right of every employee, no matter their position, to have a safe place to work. While the field may appear impersonal on the surface, behind the sea of regulations are professionals who care deeply about employees coming home to their families every night. To understand more about what drives them, we reached out to Cobra Safety, a BIPOC-owned company working with progressive organizations around the world to advance transformative change in health, safety, and sustainability. In talking with Founder Nisa Karan-Aravinth and her team, we would learn that safety really is the glue that holds a diverse society together and allows it to thrive.
“I have always been a big believer that your skills and talents should be used to improve other people’s lives,” says Nisa, who is a woman of color. “You should always be contributing to the world so that the next generation inherits a healthier future. That is one reason I was a Registered Nurse before I became a business leader. I knew that I could help patients who were in need of care, and I was more than happy to devote myself to them.”
Nisa began Cobra Safety because she could see that the definition of a safe workplace was changing as the effects of global warming intensified. She explains that there was a real need for an innovative company that would continue to train businesses in workplace safety and regulatory compliance but also implement sustainability programs.
“Our people and our planet are our greatest assets – we need both in order for all of us to thrive,” Nisa says. “We believe 100% that a safe workplace is tied to a healthy world, so we have made our commitment to net zero part of who we are and our goals as a company.”
One pillar of Cobra Safety is its focus on sustainability and net zero. A fraction of its proceeds is donated to carbon removal initiatives. The company has incorporated the support of environmental organizations into its business model.
None of this, Nisa believes, would be possible without an inclusive team that is equally committed to giving their blood, sweat, and tears to keep people around the globe safe. Domonique Quirion-Currie, Head of External Engagements and Strategic Partnerships, explains why the mission of Cobra Safety is so personal to her.
“Safety is very important because of the thousands of risks and dangers we could face without it. Growing up, I watched my grandparents go to work everyday with these high risk factory jobs, and they always came home safe and sound because of proper workplace safety and training,” Domonique remembers. “I am grateful to have grandparents who are both healthy and retired. I feel without safety, how will any of us do the things that are so important? How can communities be built up without it? An economy cannot work without the proper safety rules and regulations. Most importantly, we cannot get home to the ones we love each night if workplaces are unsafe.”
Subanya Karan, Vice President of Project Management, reveals that as the daughter of refugees, she values safety not just because her parents fled a war but because after seeking asylum in Canada, her parents, like most immigrants, were forced to take on higher risk jobs due to the lower barrier to entry.
“Also, language barriers caused major issues in their education and understanding of their rights to safety,” Subanya says. “Being a part of this industry feels especially close to home. Our team at Cobra Safety is able to bridge the gap with the organizations we work with to ensure that each and every one of their employees is able to go back home to their families at the end of the day and ultimately allowing the businesses to run smoothly.”
Together, Cobra Safety team members are advancing the practice of safety and sustainability. As they do so, they are enjoying an unexpected benefit: new and stronger relationships with diverse people whose futures are tied to the health of planet Earth just like their own.
“It is one of the biggest joys of what we do at Cobra Safety,” Nisa says. “We help everyone remember that in the end, we are all people who have the same right to live healthy lives, no matter our occupation, age, gender, or ethnicity. No matter how technologically advanced we may become, safety will remain the foundation of a strong society.”
Cobra Safety is an occupational health, safety, and sustainability organization founded by Nisa Karan-Aravinth, a recognized safety and business leader and one of Canada’s Top Women in Safety in 2023. Cobra Safety offers training, consulting, advisory, and professional services to other organizations/companies. The organization ensures that a company is compliant with workplace health and safety laws by supporting its employees with the development and maintenance of a robust occupational health and safety program, including training, policies/procedures, surveillance programs, incident response, auditing, and more.
For more information about Cobra Safety, please see https://www.cobra-safety.com/.