Safety Advisor Corner: Top 3 Safety Tips for Spring 2017

Tip #1 – Document Management
OHS Program administration can be a daunting task, especially when resorting to binders and bookshelves full of forms, policies and paper. Cloud based applications, like Xilo, help keep track of job descriptions, physical demands analysis, standard operation procedures, safe work practices and much more. If you are still putting pencil to paper, perhaps now is the time to look into software solutions.

Xilo: Think Safety, Think Xilo

Tip #2 – Biometrics in Safety
The future of technology in safety include PPE that will measure heart rate, body temperature and other critical metrics that can be reported back to a central location. These new technologies can sound alarms before an incident, assist individuals who are working alone and when necessary disable equipment that could put a disabled worker in danger.

Tip #3 – Online Learning
Training and education in the health and safety world has been transformed in recent years due to the accessibility and user friendly approach to computerized, online training. Although the days of instructor-led classroom training are not over, online learning is quickly becoming the preferred choice of companies who want to train their staff in an affordable, non-disruptive way.

Did you know the Alliance has just launched FREE on-line Combustible Dust courses?

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is pleased to offer three FREE online Combustible Dust training courses for:

  • Workers
  • Contractors
  • Employers & Managers

Accurately identifying, assessing and controlling combustible dust is an essential part of a properly functioning OHS program. These courses are designed to help participants understand the properties of combustible dust, and how these properties need to be managed to mitigate possible fire and explosion hazards in the workplace. As a result of these courses, participants will be better prepared to control combustible dust hazards, develop safe work procedures and prevent incidents and injuries.

Course Description
Each course will provide participants with the key principles and concepts for recognizing the hazards, unsafe conditions and preventive actions associated with combustible dust.

Course Length
3 hours to complete each course, including quizzes.

Delivery Format
Online Learning Centre.

Previous health and safety education and/or experience is an asset, but not a requirement to enroll.

Course Topics

  • Characteristics of Combustible Dust
  • How an Explosion Occurs
  • When Does Accumulation Become a Hazard?
  • How To Control Ignition Sources
  • Controlling Explosion Risk
  • Controlling Dust Accumulation
  • Explosion Protection
  • Physical Site Inspection

Register for FREE

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

First Law of Robotics

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm – First Law of Robotics, Isaac Asimov, Author of ‘I, Robot’

by Gladys Johnsen – Over the last several decades, the introduction of automated production lines and robotics has become commonplace in most food processing and manufacturing facilities. From basic conveying systems, to complex robotic cells, the ability to produce goods at high speed and accuracy have allowed North American companies to compete in a world of global trade.

Rick Gibbs, President of Neutron Factory Works, believes that automation allows companies to grow through increased production and consistent quality while improving the health and safety of the workers.

Neutron specializes in the installation and maintenance of equipment in manufacturing, processing and warehousing facilities.

The implementation of robotics has decreased worker exposure to hazardous environments and shielded operations staff against unsafe or repetitive tasks, such as welding and heavy lifting. Automation may initially reduce the number of entry-level, low-skilled jobs, however, over the medium to long-term, automation creates new demand for technically-competent operators, maintenance, inspection, and logistics roles.

“Generally, after companies automate, they employ more staff than when they started due to an enhanced competitive position overall” says Gibbs.

Nonetheless, a movement to automation alone is not a guarantee of a safer workplace. One of the biggest challenges Rick and his team see for companies importing automated equipment into Canada is related to Safety;

It can be very costly to upgrade equipment to Canadian standards, which are some of the highest in the world. Safety is the centrepiece of these standards. While the low sticker price of imported equipment may seem like an attractive choice, the liability, safety hazards and subsequent costs to bring the equipment up to domestic standards can quickly outweigh any perceived windfall.
– Rick Gibbs, President, Neutron Factory Works

The primary hazard from automated and robotic equipment is motion. Whereas humans can always maintain an awareness of surroundings, robotics simply follow a preprogrammed routine. Without effective safety integration and design, these robotic systems can start and continue to run, creating a dangerous, or even lethal environment to humans. Consequently, the human operator needs to understand how to safely stop and restart machinery, as well as knowing where to stand to avoid injury or exposure. “Including your company’s health and safety representative in the planning stages for new equipment ensures policies reflecting the new process are updated and workers are appropriately trained,” says Rick. “Involving your team in the decisions to introduce robotics and automation is always a good idea.”

Good planning and training will ensure that new production processes will meet the needs of the company, its workers and clients.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

Leaders in Aerospace Safety: AITCA on the Journey to OSSE/COR Certification

by Gladys Johnsen – Advanced Integration Technology Canada (AITCA), is the world’s largest provider of automation, factory integration and tooling solutions dedicated to the global aerospace, defence, and space launch vehicle industries. It has over 200,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space in its Langley, BC facility and employs 125 highly-skilled workers.

Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager Human Resources, shares responsibility for the management of AITCA’s health and safety management system with all managers and employees. Debbie says, “From the factory floor through management we understand we each have a role to play.”

In 2016 there was an emphasis on enhancing the AITCA safety management system that included;

    • A glove trial to drive down cuts
    • 6S initiatives for improved housekeeping
    • Five whys for all first aid incidents
    • The addition of safety prescription glasses to the group benefits program

Overall, AITCA experienced a significant reduction in claims costs and incident and lost time rates over the last three years.

One recent safety initiative for AITCA was an interest in understanding what it took to fully comply with WorkSafeBC’s regulations for welding fumes. With new legislation on the horizon for weld fume extraction and control, AITCA reached out to the experts.

The AITCA fabrication shop is an open, well ventilated space where respirators were optional. AITCA engaged the services of a consultant with years of experience in welding environments. With his assistance, education of both management and workers on current welding fume regulations was initiated. Further, an appreciation of WorkSafeBC targets both immediate and long term was explored.

All workers were immediately fit-tested and are now diligently wearing respirators. Education goes a long way in gaining acceptance from the employees as to why certain safety protocols are put into place.

With the assistance of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, AITCA is working towards receiving OSSE (Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence) certification, a comprehensive health and safety management system.

According to Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager, HR at AITCA,

The primary benefit for AITCA is the logical step-by-step approach in having a complete and current safety management system. After the GAP analysis was completed, we knew exactly
what needed to be done, and regular meetings with our advisor keep us on track.

Achieving OSSE certification will set in place a plan for the continuing safety of all employees and people who visit AITCA.

Injury rates in BC Aerospace compared to Injury rates in all of BC Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC works with multiple Classification Units (CUs) related to aviation, including 712027 (Manufacture, or Manufacture and Installation of Structural Metal Products) and 712001 (Aircraft, Automobile or Truck Assembly).

The injury rate, a calculation of injuries per 100 workers, for both CUs has seen an improvement outpacing the provincial average over the past four years.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

Radiation Safety: Industrial solutions for public and worker safety

by Gladys Johnsen – Radiation has increasingly become an integral part of food processing and manufacturing. In February 2017, Health Canada announced changes to Food and Drug regulations to allow irradiation of ground beef. On the manufacturing side, radiation is now routinely employed for detection of hairline cracks and weaknesses in pipelines, process control and weld inspection.

Irradiation in the food industry is a process that blasts food with a low level of ionizing radiation. Steve Horvath, President of the Radiation Institute of Canada, which promotes radiation safety and awareness through sharing science and best practices, says, “Food processing is one of the largest users of radiation for producing a more consistent, safer product.” Radiation sources are commonly used in industry for quality assurance and public and worker safety.

Nuclear gauges commonly examine product flowing through a pipe into containers for contaminants and can ensure that the same amount is put into each jar or package.

Steve said, “the oil and gas industry use radiation sources for drilling and refining processes and the examination of pipelines where x-rays are used to determine the security of welds or the thickness of the pipeline wall.”

Depending on the type of work, the installation and use of radiation products is highly regulated to ensure worker safety. The federal government is responsible for regulating the use of nuclear materials and energy. This would include radiation sources, nuclear gauges, irradiators, cancer treatment using nuclear sources or high energy x-ray systems. Provincial governments regulate uses of radiation not included in the federal regulations. This would include industrial and medical radiation and x-ray applications and the use of lasers. In BC, the responsibility for worksite safety is delegated to WorkSafeBC.

Any company that has made the decision to introduce radiation into a process to increase quality and speed up production needs to be completely aware of the workplace hazards and create a plan to mitigate them.

A good way to start the plan is to include the company’s health and safety team from the beginning. Being part of the planning and implementation allows the creation of a policy, including appropriate training. – Steve Horvath, President of the Radiation Institute of Canada

Exposure to radiation can cause harmful effects, which makes it critical to understand the hazards and have radiation included in the core of the health and safety program that is developed. The primary goal of any health and safety policy related to exposure control is to keep any contact to as low a level as is reasonably achievable by using control measures.

Engineered design and construction, administrative policy or procedures and personal protective equipment address the three fundamental principles of dose reduction:

Time: Spend the shortest possible amount of time close to the source

Distance: Increase the amount of space between the worker and the source

Shielding: Have material between you and the radiation source that can reduce or eliminate the radiation intensity

Depending upon the kind of radiation process which is being introduced the company may have to be licensed by the appropriate federal or provincial regulator. All workers who will be working with or near the radiation source must be trained to the standard included in their licence. Additionally, federally regulated users require that refresher training be done at a defined frequency. Provincial regulations don’t generally indicate any particular requirement for refresher frequency. However, best practice is to have refresher training every three to five years.

The health and safety professional in a company that uses radiation has a constantly evolving job. There is a need to be aware of any changes to federal or provincial regulations and of updates from the manufacturer of the machinery, and they must ensure that all workers as well as contractors entering the space where the radiation is present understand the company safety standard. For more information on radiation in the workplace or at home go to the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada’s website:

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

The challenge of automation for manufacturing

by Lisa McGuire, CRSP – CEO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC – Advancements in the manufacturing sector are occurring at an unprecedented rate and with the dynamic evolution of technology have created new health and safety risks to the manufacturing industry. This newsletter provides insight on the safety rewards, risks, and challenges that come with technology, including automation and robotics.

Whether large or small, manufacturing firms face similar issues – how to grow market share, manage costs, and safely enhance worker productivity. These issues are impacted by globalization of the production chain, automation of processes, and recognizing and managing international standards of production.

The increased use of robots and automation for repetitive or dangerous tasks positively impacts these issues, while improving worker safety and product quality. Claims resulting from repetitive tasks are the most common injury type in the manufacturing sector. Reducing injuries has a positive impact on WorkSafeBC premiums and may also increase worker productivity by reducing “down-time” as a result of a work stoppage caused by an incident or its resulting investigation.

With its focus on how much product it can sell in the next quarter or year, manufacturing can be defined as an industry of the future. Through the appropriate use of automation, companies can better meet those goals. At the same time, health and safety professionals must understand new hazards that may be created, while developing and updating current procedures. As part of the team designing, developing and implementing new technologies, health & safety professionals will play a critical role in their company’s successful introduction and integration of automated production.


This editorial appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers