Creating Safer Workplaces: Innovative Products to keep Workers Safe

Personal protective equipment can be purchased from thousands of retailers online, but a careful health and safety team makes sure that the PPE used on the shop floor meet the rigorous Canadian standards. The advice you get from your safety retailer, particularly when looking for specialized equipment, can be just as valuable as getting the right gear.

With a history of providing innovative safety products going back to 1889, and a strong relationship with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, Acklands- Grainger continues to be a leader in the Canadian market.

The Alliance and Acklands-Grainger have been working together since the Alliance was formed in 2007. Acklands-Grainger has been a strong supporter and sponsor of the BC Safety Charter since 2012 and has worked closely with the Alliance on other safety initiatives across BC.

“We see a 100% alignment with Acklands-Grainger and the Alliance in our commitment to keep people safe at work. It’s a mission of both organizations,” says Ken Chamberlin, VP Commercial Sales for Acklands-Grainger.

“We strive to go beyond products. We have the breadth and depth of experience both in the manufacturing industry and in the Canadian regulatory sector to become a partner with clients in their safety needs. This is unprecedented in the Canadian marketplace ”

In addition to its work with BC’s manufacturing clients, Acklands-Grainger has thousands of customers in every Canadian industry, including manufacturing, greenhouse operations, diamond mining, wineries, and food processing.

To support customers, no matter what their industry, Acklands-Grainger has a national team of safety specialists made up of long-time employees with a strong background in safety and industry. These safety specialists are often factory-trained in the specific products they advise on and get hands-on knowledge of how each device works so they can give customers the most up-to-date information and quickly troubleshoot problems.

Acklands-Grainger’s robust online platform allows clients to work with their rep to create specialized catalogues for their company providing digital adherence to specific safety programs. For example, a company can choose to only list PPE that is approved for purchase. This eliminates employees accidentally choosing incorrect or non-compliant products.

To make sure the best products make it to market, Acklands-Grainger takes an active role working with major vendors including 3M, Honeywell, Bob Dale, and Kimberly Clark. “We are one of their biggest distributor and give them insight into the Canadian market and customer. It allows us to bring better products that meet our customers’ needs,” says Ken.

Keeping up with industry: Defining Certification and Accreditation for OHS Professionals

Some skills that an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals need are indisputable – technical knowledge, a knack for working with diverse teams, and a strong commitment to safety. Together with the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and members like you, the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is working to define the skills and knowledge that an effective OHS professional must have.

The Alliance has been the lead organization for a project to define the core competencies and capabilities that occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals require to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry in BC. The resulting framework will inform the development of effective training and relevant career-path information for career seekers and employers.

Daneen Skilling, Chair of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Project Steering Committee says,

“The safety professional of the future must be able to manage both the technical day-to-day safety issues and also lead industry and corporate cultural attitudes to health and safety. ”

The first three phases of the multi-year project, Sector Engagement, the gathering of Labour Market Information, and Strategy Development have been completed. Funding was provided through the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and administered by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The Alliance, along with the Steering Committee, is looking forward to the implementation phase, pending approval from the Ministry.

“During the next phase,” says Daneen, “we will establish three advisory bodies to develop a competency and capability framework; develop the accreditation process which includes education and training standards; and, design the certification process. We will also develop a communication strategy to make sure the OHS profession’s certification program for manufacturing is broadly known.”

The Project Team identified two parallel diversities. The first is the evolving nature of manufacturing, with constant introduction of new products and technology. The second is a workforce which is going through both a generational and cultural change. These changes impact how OHS professionals need to be taught. As the Sector Labour Market Partnership project develops, a broad variety of stakeholders including industry partners, regulators, educators and OHS professionals will be consulted. This will ensure that core competencies and the training is relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

“We need to be as innovative in how we train our OHS professionals as we are in our industries. They must have good generalist training and then add on a defined set of core competencies and capabilities to create a manufacturing certification. Additionally, they must learn how to be great communicators and change leaders to both a corporate management team and the shop floor. Increased analytical skills will help them recognize and minimize new risks or hazards that are part of technological upgrades. All this must be done within the framework of the business need for profitability and production.”

To learn more about the Sector Labour Market Partnership project, visit

Summer 2018: OHS Innovation & Education Edition

Inspire, Innovate, Transform

by Lisa McGuire, CEO – Companies make pragmatic decisions that impact not only the viability of a company, but also the health and safety of its workers. The health and safety professional, as a member of the management team, needs to be aware of the changing environment and emerging risks that can affect the business, workforce and overall sustainability of the organization.

Risks, like cybersecurity and the use of automated equipment on the shop floor, and regulatory changes such as the legalization of cannabis, emerge quickly. It is critical to be prepared to identify and assess emerging risks, and proactively reduce and mitigate them with effective controls and a risk management program. The most successful approach is to develop a culture that everyone, from shop floor worker to CEO, accepts as a core value of the company. Leaders must inspire and promote innovation and in particular the out of-the-box thinking that allows employees to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the organization while managing current and emerging OHS risks.

Transformation starts by recruiting and empowering OHS professionals who have the appropriate level of knowledge, skills and abilities to inform and support the leadership team and translate the outcomes and expectations to all employee levels.

In response to the evolving needs of the manufacturing industry, the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training has provided funding through the Sector Labour Market Partnership program to develop a strategy that defines standards for the occupational health and safety profession within the manufacturing industry. This will support organizations more effectively and positively impact both the worker and long-term sustainability of the organization.

The Alliance is hosting its annual health and safety conference on October 24 and 25 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. This year has a great lineup of speakers to invoke innovation and inspire transformation of your workplace safety culture. I hope you can join us.

For more information about Make It Safe, visit our dedicated conference website.