A message to BC employers from WorkSafeBC

April 28 has been designated the national Day of Mourning, a time when we all come together to remember those who have lost their lives due to work-related incidents or occupational diseases. Last year 158 workers died as a result of their work.

Sadly, in a recent three-week period alone, 11 more workers in British Columbia died while at work. These deaths are not isolated to a specific industry or workplace; they happened in construction, forestry, marine, tourism, and transportation — and in locations throughout the province:

March 22In Burnaby, a worker struck by a falling excavator bucket
March 25In Penticton, a roofer died as the result of a fall
March 26In Quesnel, two logging trucks collided on a highway
March 28In North Vancouver, a worker fell at a construction site
March 28In Whistler, a ski guide was buried in an avalance while guiding a heli-skiing group
March 30In Vancouver, a worker was found unconscious and later died in hospital
April 2In Port Alice, a worker at a logging camp was found deceased at the worksite
April 3In Golden, a worker for railway company was found deceased in a vacuum truck
April 6In New Westminster, a worker was struck by vehicle in a freight/container yard
April 9In Elkford, a worker died when equipment rolled into water
April 9In Prince Rupert, a worker suffered a suspected cardiovascular event after a fishing boat capsized

While it is too early for us to know the exact circumstances of each of these deaths, we want to remind employers of their responsibility for the health and safety of their workers.

Employers have an obligation to comply with Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the Workers Compensation Act of British Columbia. This means that workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. They have the right to be properly trained, and the right to refuse unsafe work. But it’s more than a legal obligation. It’s the right thing to do. You owe it to your workers to ensure they go home to their families, friends, and loved ones healthy and safe at the end of the day.

We ask all employers to stay focused and to prioritize workplace safety. We also encourage you to honour those who have died by taking part in a Day of Mourning event in your region. For more information about this year’s Day of Mourning events, visit dayofmourning.bc.ca. For more information about creating a safe and healthy workplace, visit worksafebc.com.

Recognizing Safety Legacies: The Ben Hume Leadership Award

On April 19, Ben Hume will climb the stage at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala to present an industry leader with the Ben Hume Leadership award. It will be another step in Ben’s journey to build safer workplaces that started early in his career.

Twenty years ago, while he was president of an aluminum manufacturer, a long-term worker turned and asked him, “When are we going to stop hurting people?”

It was a question that Ben took to heart.

In four years, the company had grown from 30 to 120 workers. In the haste to increase production, safety had been sidelined and the company had 23 lost time incidents. Ben and his team brought the incident rate down significantly in 18 months.

Ben carried his passion for building safe workplaces throughout his career. As his influence in the business community grew, he continued to champion his belief that safe workplaces are a direct result of CEOs and executives making a commitment promote to a culture of safety.

“A culture of safety is not just compliance,not just ticking a box and not just saying we have a program, it’s a belief system that all of us working together, whether or not the boss is present, are responsible for the health and safety of each other. This results in better, sustainable productivity which inevitably leads to profitability. ”

“One of the big changes I have seen in my career is the formation of safety associations like the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. When I started building safety culture, nothing like the Alliance existed for manufacturers,” Ben says.

“It’s clear from the numbers that members of the Alliance have better safety records than non-members. The Alliance’s support with education for all levels makes a huge difference, particularly for subject matter experts.”

In 2017, Ben was recognized with the inaugural Ben Hume Award for demonstrating health and safety leadership throughout his career. The award is for an individual who has joined the BC Safety Charter and who has been judged by their peers to have demonstrated the ability to inspire both their management team and workforce to ever higher safety standards and to be an advocate for maintaining a culture of safety. “Having an award named after you is a pretty humbling experience,” says Ben.

According to Lisa McGuire, CEO of the Alliance, “The Ben Hume Award is to honour a leader who is doing outstanding work changing the culture of safety in their organization and in the industry. By recognizing leaders, we know we can drive a culture change in the community.

Nominees for the 2018 Ben Hume Leadership Award

Sandra Oldfield was winemaker and CEO at Tinhorn Creek Winery from 1993–2017. Under Sandra’s careful guidance, Tinhorn Creek earned Gold at Canada’s Safest Employers Awards (2016) and a Ruby Safety Pinnacle Award (2017). Sandra was one of the inaugural signatories of the BC Safety Charter, a key member of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Committee, and has also been named one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women by the Woman’s Executive Network.

Scott Bax, Senior Vice President, Operations, Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. has more than 20 years of forestry and safety experience in logging and wood manufacturing throughout North America. Scott was named one of the Top 36 Most Influential Leaders in the Biomass industry (2016) and regularly presents safety at industry conferences around the world.

Kevin Thorburn, Supply Chain Manager Western and North West Canada for Nestlé Waters Canada, is an industrial engineering and operations management expert with nearly 20 years experience. Kevin joined the Alliance board in 2015, and is a key member of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Committee. Kevin is a signatory to the BC Safety Charter and accepted a Ruby Safety Pinnacle Award on behalf of Nestle in 2017.

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.

A Safety Culture Transformation: K-Line focuses on teamwork and incremental change

When K-Line Trailers Ltd. receives a Topaz award for completing the OSSE Certification at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala in April 2018, it will also mark five years of the team working with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC.

K-Line has been designing and manufacturing custom transport equipment in its Langley facility for 24 years. The company has been successful and its workforce has grown to 170 workers. However, as the business expanded, both injuries and WorkSafeBC orders started to increase. Time-loss days per year as a result were usually in the hundreds. In 2013, the company took its first steps to creating a safer workplace by commissioning a safety GAP analysis.

Fast forward five years and K-Line passed their first Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) audit. Richard Cramond, K-Line’s OHS Coordinator says, “The audit was a lot of work for a lot of people, and just about everybody at all levels of the organization worked on this project. By working together, we’ve not only achieved OSSE, we’ve achieved measurable improvements
in safety. Since we started to focus on safety as part of the production process, accidents and injuries have gone way down. In 2017, our time-loss injuries were less than 10% of what they were five years ago. ”

The GAP analysis also connected the Alliance to K-Line. Richard says, “The Alliance advisors met with us monthly to discuss our OSSE progress, answer questions and provide practical advice. Their advisors were terrific. They understood our business and worked with us to create implementable solutions.”

K-Line consciously chose an incremental approach to improving safety to ensure worker buy-in for the changes. “We focused on gradually improving our safety systems in all departments across the whole company. The joint internal health and safety committee was tremendously valuable during this process. The committee includes representation from management, supervisors and workers — everyone has input. Committee recommendations are almost always implemented by management,” says Richard.

The focus on safety led to shop floor improvements that resulted in faster, safer material movement from one part of the floor to another. With the Safety Committee, K-Line also reconsidered its PPE policy which now gives workers the freedom to choose which PPE options work best for them. Safety isn’t simply about including updates in all weekly department meetings, it is now a core value for the company.

“The recognition of getting the Alliance’s Topaz Award is nice,” said Richard. “The award belongs to all the K-Line workers who have helped create the successful safety program we have.”

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.

Making a Safe Family Even Safer: Working together to keep an Eye on Safety with Kerry Foods

When you walk into Kerry Foods Delta plant it feels like you are among family. The Delta location manufactures coffee syrups and is the only location of the Irish-based company in Western Canada.

The company has always had a strong commitment to safety. “We see colleagues as family members,” says Cynthia Lapointe, the Kerry plant manager.

“Our safety journey has always been tied up with the question: Would you do this at home? Would you let your spouse or kids do this?”

Over the years, Kerry has continued to improve. When Cynthia arrived in Delta from Quebec two years ago, she already had eight years with the company under her belt. She was impressed at the relationship that had been built with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “Rob Montgomery was already part of the member of the Alliance’s Technical Advisory Committee and we were in the process of obtaining OSSE Certification. My job was to give our safety program the vision and direction.”

One of Kerry’s big initiatives was to implement Eye For Safety observation cards. “This helps us improve with observations directly from the shop floor,” says Cynthia. “Employees are required, as part of their performance review to identify areas we can improve in the categories of: safety, environment, quality, maintenance and operations.”

In 2017, employees identified 374 areas for safety improvement. Improvements can be small, such as seeing someone put on their seatbelt on a forklift, or large, for example identifying a broken racking light and fixing it before an inspection. The Eye For Safety cards are handed out to line leads and talked about at the production meeting every day. Cynthia says, “You have to track and demonstrate improvement. If you don’t, people won’t come back and the program won’t last.”

Cynthia is passionate about making the workplace safer and recently joined the BC Safety Charter, “I would never want to report that someone was injured or died under my watch. I don’t know what it would be like to go home, to my spouse and kids and look at myself in the mirror knowing that someone got hurt. Knowing that something was wrong and I let it happen.”

Kerry’s safety commitment has helped the organization recruit and retain good employees. “We had people leaving for more money and they came back because their new job didn’t have a family spirit and wasn’t safe. That’s great for business. If people are happy to come to work and are safe and enjoy it, celebrate that and you will get good people to work for you.”

Support from the Alliance has been crucial to Kerry’s continued success. “I appreciate the networking, the activities, meeting with other manufacturers, conferences and seminars. The Alliance helps us keep an open mind about what’s going on in the industry and pushes us to strive to excellence,” says Cynthia.

“Safety in Quebec was pretty good. But when I moved to BC, it struck me that here safety really is a priority. I am so far ahead in my safety journey. Part of that is networking and teaming up with the Alliance, and other manufacturers. Every month I learn something new.”

Cynthia isn’t just learning new things, she’s sharing it with her colleagues across North America. The Delta location of Kerry Foods is very active in the North America Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week every year. The company often wins prizes and now participation is mandatory for all plant in the same business unit as Delta across North America. This year, Cynthia is working with plants in Quebec, Washington State, Ohio, Georgia and Mexico to create a consistent experience for all the units. “We’ll have events in three countries, now that’s exciting!” says Cynthia.

Cynthia will be on hand to celebrate with her team at the Safety Pinnacle Award Gala on April 19. “Everyone works so hard in safety and we don’t stop to celebrate milestone often enough. The Alliance offers us a chance to celebrate the successes we’ve had.”

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.

Creating a Culture of Safety: RIMEX reduces claims by 85% and reduces lead times

RIMEX shows how a company can undergo a cultural safety transformation and make the changes last by changing hiring practices, working with partners like the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, and embedding safety in every aspect of its work.

When an industrial accident resulted in a worker death in 2011, RIMEX began its journey towards safety excellence.

The company, a global leader in the manufacture, sales and distribution of wheels and rims for mining and other off-road industries, was enjoying strong sales. Business growth contributed to a culture that allowed workers to rush a process or ignore safety rules. Safety was not a core value — and workers were not working as a team.

After the fatality, the executive team worked quickly to make the necessary changes including hiring a professional safety officer. Working with the Alliance, the organization and its 180 workers in Agassiz and Surrey underwent a cultural safety culture transformation.

This transformation continued in 2014 when James Read started as RIMEX’s Director of Manufacturing. James is directly responsible for manufacturing as well as the company’s extensive safety program. His background in Lean helped him empower front-line workers to become part of the solution. He also introduced Total Quality Management (TQM) techniques that emphasize the involvement of an entire organization, including upper level management at RIMEX.

“Safety is a mindset,” says James.

“Get all the workers, managers and executives on the same page and they become a team sharing the common goal of ensuring every worker goes home safely at the end of the day.”

One of the important changes James encouraged was to make sure new hires weren’t just selected for their technical ability, but also for their awareness and commitment to safety. The company’s onboarding program reinforces the responsibility of each worker for the safety of their peers.

At the same, the Alliance advised on best practices to reduce worker injuries. For example, workers now actively keep the shop floor cleaned and cleared to ensure easy and safe movement around the plant. Safety procedures are standardized and work processes have been corrected. RIMEX identified and examined the high-risk tasks and, after consultation with the Alliance, provided tools that met the highest safety standards.

RIMEX completed the certification process for Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) in 2015, and, at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala in April, will receive an Emerald Safety Pinnacle award.

“The Alliance has provided support, access to specialized resources, and enhanced our confidence that we are taking the right steps,” says James. “At the same time, working with the Alliance gives our management team assurance that we are following a good, proven business model. Safety is pushing the company forward on many fronts.”

The impacts of the team’s efforts are seen in more than simply winning awards. James goes on to say, “This investment in staff and safety has resulted in an 85% decrease in RIMEX claims in the past five years. We’ve also seen a tremendous improvement in quality and delivery predictability. At the same time, we’ve had a dramatic reduction in lead times. Such significant savings demonstrate that safety and smart financial decision making often go hand in hand. RIMEX’s experience proves that safety is both profitable and increases production.”

RIMEX Improvement projects:

  1. Processes, like the manufacturing of lock rings, were restructured to improve the ergonomics of employee movements while maximizing product flow. Workers used to lift the 100-lb equipment 12 times each process, 20 times a day.
  2. Heavy processes, like painting and finishing, were modernized with technology that favoured less mechanical movement. This reduced the number and risk of employee and forklift interactions.
  3. Modern equipment, like HAAS milling centres, consolidated different processes under one work centre. This not only improved safety, it increased product quality, and plant productivity and capacity.
  4. Everyone in the organization is encouraged to develop a safety-conscious curiosity and empowered to make changes. Facility-wide, daily +QDIP meeting are held to assess the safety, quality delivery, inventory, and productivity performance of the previous day. When issues are identified at meetings, they are collaboratively researched and resolved. Sta conduct daily risk assessments of both routine and novel processes.

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.

Great Big Safety Results: Great Little Box Company’s Great Little Safety Program

Nick Reiach, the VP of Operations at Great Little Box Company is adamant about one point, “You cannot build a great culture if people are getting hurt at work. Safety is the foundation of being a great employer — making sure people go home the same way as they came in is the only way to operate a business.”

Great Little Box Company, based in Richmond, is an award-winning distributor of custom and stock packaging solutions that achieved Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) in 2016. Founded in 1982, the company now employs over 250 workers and is regularly featured on lists of Canada’s best employers, BC’s best employers, and as one of Canada’s best managed companies.

According to Nick, “We’ve always been committed to safety but a few years ago we wanted to really step up our commitment”

“Working with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC allowed Great Little Box Company to reach out to industry-specific resources for our class of company. It brought structure and knowledge. We knew if we followed the steps and put in a strong safety framework, a great safety culture would emerge. ”

The changes have helped Great Little Box Company to stay competitive in an industry fighting for talent. It allows them to retain great employees and easily recruit new employees. “People feel better referring potential candidates to a company when they know it is safe.”


The continuous journey to safety excellence also has an affect on the bottom line, “In addition to continuing to build a great culture, our safe work practices have also generated incredible cost savings that affected the bottom line in ways that would have required tremendous increases in sales to match,” Nick adds.

When you see Nick or his colleagues at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala in April as they pick up their Emerald Award, say hello and ask about visiting the company for a safety tour. Nick and his team welcome visitors interested in learning more about their safety program, “Safety is something companies have no problem sharing. We often share our best practices with competitors. We have been encouraged by the generosity of other companies like TECK Resources. We’re happy to pay it forward.”

Nick is quick to point out that the changes his company made are all reasonable. The Alliance has been a great partner in the company’s journey.

“The accountability certification creates for management is powerful — once you have certification, you want to improve and maintain it. We have a lot of pride around our safety record, it’s a big accomplishment. The OSSE Certification is arguably or one of the best safety certifications you can attain in North America,” Nick says. “Keeping your people safe is the only way to operate a company.”

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.

Celebrating 10 Years of Safer Work

In 10 years, we’ve seen the food manufacturing industry transform how they conduct business. In 2008 more than seven out of every 100 workers suffered a time-loss injury in the food industry, in 2016 it was less than four. This is a tremendous achievement and an important milestone that our longest standing members should be proud of achieving.

In our 10-year journey as a health & safety association, we have learned a great deal about how to best serve our members throughout the province. Recognizing that one size does not fi t all we have adapted our health & safety programs to support both on-site and distance learning platforms to reach as many members as possible to help them work toward health & safety excellence.

In this issue, we profile five companies and individuals who have accomplished a significant achievement in their pursuit of safety excellence. Their stories make it clear that focusing on safety presents an incredible opportunity to build great workplaces with people being the most valuable component of success.

Our flagship program is OSSE “Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence.” OSSE defines the manufacturing industry safety standard. Companies who have adopted the “systems approach” for managing health & safety risk are at the beginning of their journey in creating a culture that brings workers home to their families safely. In 2017, the Alliance itself achieved OSSE certification to better support a safe workplace for the team and to understand the journey that members go through.

I hope you have a chance to join us and network with your peers at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala on April 19. On this special night, we celebrate our members’ achievements and the tremendous work and innovation they have accomplished while pursuing safety excellence in their organizations.

Together we are building better workplaces and shaping the foundation for the safest province to work and live in Canada.