We Are All Safety Ambassadors: Innovation and Inclusivity Drive Safety Excellence at Soprema

New worker safety is top of mind at the Soprema plant in Chilliwack. The company is preparing to open a new facility in Woodstock, Ontario, and although the company operates several closer plants, they opted to fly the entire staff of the new Woodstock location to BC—a few at a time—to train alongside Plant Manager Dan Pretty’s Chilliwack team.

We Are All Safety Ambassadors
The Chilliwack plant stands out in part for its innovative approach to safety, and the way it involves the whole team. As you walk from the front office to the production area, you pass a wall of plaques—one for each person in the organization—representing each one as a Safety Ambassador. Soprema introduced the Safety Ambassador program by creating a small team of workers in each location to encourage safety and wellness at work.

It’s a binding contract. I am responsible for safety. Not only mine, but yours as well.

They recognize each team member with a plaque and a hockey-style jersey that identifies them as a Safety Ambassador. Pretty and his team looked at the program, and said, “In this plant, we are all Safety Ambassadors.” Everyone gets a plaque, and they wear their Safety Ambassador jerseys proudly on the production floor. “It’s a binding contract,” Pretty said. Staff sign their commitment: “I am responsible for safety. Not only mine, but yours as well.” That shift in mindset has taken time, Pretty said. “It was a big rock we had to roll up a hill, but now it rolls on its own.”

A Health & Safety Kaizen Blitz
Workplace safety is a priority in Soprema’s commitment to sustainability. Each of Soprema’s 63 plant managers worldwide is evaluated on the quality of their health and safety systems. Pretty notes that in Europe, the company is piloting a health and safety points system, “like your driving record,” to increase accountability for health and safety among plant leaders.

At the same time, productivity training is always ongoing. “This facility is high performing,” Pretty said, “but we’re in a never-ending pursuit to do better.”

Late last year, Dan and his team decided to look at how they could apply a Kaizen blitz approach to their health and safety program this year. “We want to be world class,” he said. The team identified four key opportunities to improve health and safety in the plant, and gave themselves until the end of March 2019 to complete the work.

First, they created a tablet-based tool to ensure consistent workplace inspections and documentation. Next, recognizing the added risk to staff doing new tasks, they created a hazard assessment workbook for non-routine tasks. This is important, Pretty said, “to help people take precautions, but also to turn that mental switch so people will start to evaluate risks subconsciously.”

Finally, they put together a plan to increase communications with workers about health and safety best practices and achievements. With this sizable project completed inside of three months, the team is planning a communications meeting and a big party at the end of April to celebrate their achievements.

A Personal Take on Safety Excellence
Plant Manager Dan Pretty shares his personal motivation for the pursuit of safety excellence at Soprema: “The motivator for me is that I never, ever want to make that call to have to say, ‘I didn’t do enough to see that you were safe today.’ If I break somebody, not only can I not replace them, but I think of the personal side of it. I know most of the people’s wives, some of their kids. I would never want to have to make that call.” “My son worked here. I tell my people, ‘The best way I can put you in the right frame of mind to protect health and safety is to pretend that your son or daughter works here. If I’m going to leave my kid working here, I’m going to make sure it’s safe.’”

When my son moved on, I told him, ‘I’m really glad you worked here because now you know what health and safety is, and what it has to be. Now you won’t compromise. Everywhere you go, this is your point of reference.’

Celebrating Safety Excellence

Safety Above All. A tragedy at Dinoflex sparked a change in the company’s approach to safety

In every company, different factors can motivate the journey to safety excellence.For Dinoflex, the turning point was a workplace fatality. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dinoflex Group, and CEO Mark Bunz reflects on how safety became the most important core value of their business.

“In August 2013, disaster struck as one of our employees was killed on the job, and that day changed Dinoflex forever,” Bunz says.

Bunz knew at that point that something needed to change. The safety practices that had served the company for 25 years needed retooling. That’s when Dinoflex turned to the Manufacturers Safety Alliance of BC. Shortly thereafter, their OSSE journey began. Bunz notes,

The Alliance began to make an impact almost immediately by painting a picture of the OSSE journey and conducting the initial inspection of Dinoflex’s safety program.

This inspection and gap analysis provided a clear roadmap for their journey. Together, Dinoflex and the Alliance prioritized the company’s needs. The Alliance provided general and specialized training, insight, and expertise to help them close the gaps in a manner that fit the pace of their business.

“Dinoflex Group has a multi-faceted culture,” Bunz says, “and we have 4 core values that guide the success of our business on a daily basis: Customer Intimacy, Business Innovation, Extreme Ownership, but first and most important is ‘Safety Above All.’”

“We positioned Safety Above All at the top because of our history, because of the present, and because of our future,” Bunz says.

Dinoflex was founded by Sabine Presch, backed by her father Peter Presch, an early pioneer of polyurethane chemistry in Germany. Sabine operated the business for 20 years, primarily focused on producing high quality flooring for the sport and fitness industry. This was a precursor to today’s complete offering of sport, fitness, commercial, and retail recycled rubber surfacing products for both interior and exterior.

Presch sold the business in 2008 to Vancouver-based Pender West Capital Partners, who continue to invest in the growth of Dinoflex Group today. A $3.5 million expansion and upgrade this year will increase capacity and efficiencies to ensure that Dinoflex and the Group’s polyurethane blending business, International Polyurethane Solutions, remain competitive in their respective markets.

At Dinoflex, Bunz comments that a big part of a safety culture is the entire team taking ownership, not just for themselves but because they also know it is their responsibility not to let any of their co-workers do their work in an unsafe manner. “At the end of January, we achieved 1,720 safe work days without a time-loss incident, far exceeding any record in the 30-year history of the company,” says Bunz.

“That is a testament to our culture, our employees, our leadership, and our passion for continuous improvement within our safety program. We will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of safety excellence as we are guided by our first and most important core value, ‘Safety Above All.’”

Spring 2019: Safety Excellence


$2,500 scholarship will be awarded to a student entering a post-secondary occupational health and safety program.

Deadline for applications has been extended to April 12, 2019! 


Chilliwack, BC – The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is pleased to announce a new annual scholarship in honour of Ms. Daneen Skilling, a dedicated and professional leader to business and community in ensuring workplaces are safe and healthy. Ms. Skilling served as Chair, Board of Directors of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (the Alliance) for seven years during a period of significant growth. Her experience, leadership, and dedication in has led the Alliance in becoming a leading centre for health and safety. 

This award will support a worthy student pursuing a career in Occupational Health and Safety through post-secondary studies and a commitment to making workplaces physically and psychologically healthy and safe environments for workers and the communities where they operate. This scholarship supports the Alliance Vision – 2020: Partnering with BC’s industry leaders to achieve cultural change that ensures safe workplaces for all employees.  

Every year, Scholarships Canada CEO and founder Chris Wilkins estimates millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed simply because no one applies. 


The annual scholarship of $2,500 is offered by the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. A secondary practicum opportunity is included in this scholarship following successful completion of studies with a minimum GPA of 3.5. 

  • Applications will be accepted from students enrolling in an accredited Occupational Health and Safety program at college or university in BC (BCIT, UBC, SFU, UVIC, UNBC, or Okanagan College) for the 2019 – 2020 year. 
  • Applicants will be accepted from high school graduates and those furthering their education in health and safety graduate studies as outlined in the list of qualified programs. 
  • Applicants will submit abstracts showing their academic results 
  • Applicants will submit an essay of 750 to 1,200 words explaining why workplace health and safety is important to them, and why they are pursuing this course of study. 
  • Applicants will be Canadian citizens or permanent residents residing in the province of BC. 
  • Deadline for applications has been extended to April 1, 2019! 

Applications will be reviewed by an expert panel. The scholarship will be awarded at the Annual Manufacturing Safety Alliance Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala in Vancouver on April 24, 2019. 

Apply Here 

Daneen Skilling Scholarship Application Form 

About the Alliance:
The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is a leading provider of health and safety services in BC.  An industry-funded organization with a board of directors elected from BC manufacturing industries, the Alliance is dedicated to ensuring Occupational Health and Safety professionals of the future are well qualified to provide industry advice and leadership. 

Media contact:  

Ada Slivinski
Marketing & PR Specialist
C. 604.991.7423