3 training tips for giving an effective toolbox talk

Toolbox talks are quick safety meetings that usually take place at the beginning of the work day. However, toolbox talks can be presented at any time, or any place, within any group or workers. To better support managers and supervisors tasked with presenting daily toolbox talks to workers, here are a few tips:

Prepare ahead of time.

Do not begin planning your talk the morning you are scheduled to present it. Be familiar with the topic, or subject, for the talk and plan for it. Ensure the toolbox talk is in a logical order and can be easily understood.

Find a relevant topic.

Ensure the topic is important to your workers. Workers will often disengage during a toolbox talk if it has nothing to do with the work being done.

Know your audience.

It is recommended to use a language level that your workers understand. Also, remember that not all workers have English as their first language.

Visit safetyalliancebc.ca/toolbox-talks to download New Toolbox Talks.

Mark Collins, CEO, BC Ferries

BC Safety Charter profile – By Jennifer Wiebe

On August 27, 2019, BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins became the newest signatory of the BC Safety Charter, which represents the shared commitment by BC leaders to shape a health and safety focused culture in their organizations and industries.

Business leaders have two key roles in improving workplace safety, Collins says. In addition to the “traditional ‘walk the walk,’ leadership by example” role, leaders need to “break down barriers to make sure others are successful in their safety ambitions.”

He notes, “If you do that right down to the grassroots level, you’ll be blown away with what they can accomplish.”

“I work for them,” Collins says about BC Ferries’ employees, “…not the other way around.” An important part of the job, he says, is “displaying the heart and passion that you care about everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”


Since the loss of two passengers in the Queen of the North sinking in 2006, Collins notes, the BC Ferries team has been “on a journey of transforming our safety culture.”

SailSafe, the company’s grassroots health and safety program, empowers everyone at BC Ferries to be involved in health and safety. Since the program’s inception, the company has seen the number and severity of time-loss injuries drop by two-thirds and its Passenger Safety Index, which tracks injuries per million passengers, drop by three-quarters.

Over ten years, SailSafe has matured. Today, Collins describes it as part of the BC Ferries DNA: “It’s just the way we do things around here now.”

That level of success introduces a new challenge, however. “Safety is a natural conversation to have when you’ve had an accident,” Collins says. “It becomes harder to explain why we need to focus on safety when things are going well.”

“You run the risk of complacency,” Collins adds, “and that’s the enemy of safety.”

To keep the focus on safety, Collins says, BC Ferries continues to reinvent what has become their way of work— actively looking for new ideas to reinvigorate their safety program and keep people engaged. For Collins, the appeal of the BC Safety Charter is new ideas. “It’s about staying fresh,” he says. “Nobody’s got the lock on good ideas.”

An important part of the job is displaying the heart and passion that you care about everyone’s safety and wellbeing.


Within the ferry industry, Collins notes, “we’re pretty active globally.”

“Teaching can be a valuable learning experience,” Collins notes. For instance, the International Ferry Operations Association called InterFerry, of which Collins is a board member, has worked to help ferry operators in other jurisdictions become safer—“in countries where they may not think of safety in the way we think of safety.” At the recent World Ferry Safety Forum, he adds, BC Ferries people conducted safety workshops. “We’re keen to share our experience, and we learn from that.”

You run the risk of complacency and that’s the enemy of safety.

Describing the company’s influence on safety in the province, Collins points to safety discussions with transit providers, shipyards and contractors. It is important to be consistent, he notes, and have established expectations of safety. “We want to help you be successful, but if a contractor continues to be unsafe, BC Ferries will refuse to work with them.”


The BC Safety Charter commitment to safety leadership extends beyond its member organizations. Where the BC Ferries’ SailSafe program is designed to engage from the grassroots, Collins notes, “You never know when there may be something happening in another industry that we can bring into our program and get a win.” As a new signatory, Collins looks forward to getting to know other leaders at the “great organizations that are part of the BC Safety Charter.” He adds, “There is still a ton we can learn.”

You run the risk of complacency and that’s the enemy of safety.

We’re keen to share our experience, and we learn from that.

Robots: Opening interesting doors

Cobotix leads way in integrating human staff with robots

By Rosa Diaz and Ada Slivinski (Edited from an article published in Sheet Metal Journal, September 3, 2019).

In their early days as a sheet metal fabrication shop, Cobotix Manufacturing in Port Coquitlam saw the waste and inefficiencies common in the industry and pivoted to embrace new technology and production methods, first integrating robots into their process about a year and a half ago. The practice has revolutionized the way they do business.

Cobotix President Ron Adolf says integrating robotics helps the company retain staff because it allows them to do the more interesting, complex work instead of the risky, repetitive tasks they were charged with previously.

“A job that could be carpal-tunnel inducing, that’s repetitive, boring, or has any element of risk, a robot could do that,” says Adolf.

“We’re not replacing people; we’re giving better tools to our team. More interesting work turns into better pay. And because of the efficiencies of automation, it allows our pay scale to go up as well,” said Adolf.

The benefits extend beyond the company to the workers. When salaries, wages and bonuses go up as well as new initiatives like profit sharing, that’s when companies can start to see buy-in from their team. “If companies don’t do that [share the benefits of automation], their employees actually try to sabotage it,” he said.

Much of the work of integration and on-the-ground implementation has been done by machine shop lead Marc Saunter, who spends part of every day programming, running through, and building on movement sequences for robots.

“We’ve actually integrated a sequence with robots so that until he removes his arm, it will not come down,” he said.

For training, often the approach Cobotix will use is to have a robot working near a machine using traditional fabrication methods. By slowly starting to interact with the robot, staff grow more comfortable and familiar with how it works. They also lean on training videos provided by companies like Amada and Trumpf as well as the assistance of a safety advisor from the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC.

“The Alliance knows all the regulations and standards, and you’re not afraid to open up. It’s non-intimidating,” said Saunter.

“It feels like we have a partner, a safety team. It gives us far more confidence in developing our safety program and feels like we have someone really strong in our corner.”

A job that could be carpal-tunnel inducing, that’s repetitive, boring, or has any element of risk, a robot could do that.

Not only does automation speed up and add efficiencies to the manufacturing process, there is also a significant safety benefit. “You cannot put a price on it,” said Adolf, “People cannot be injured anymore,” at least not in the same ways. “Having someone standing in front of the machine doing he same thing over and over again, there’s a safety issue. Some equipment cannot accommodate it because there’s no light curtain for example, and the human being can be exposed to some injury, so we have robots use it,” said Kurilyak.

“Robots never get tired, do exactly the same operation for three to five years every day, 365 days a year, with no break. They work overnight. Set things up on Friday and come in Monday morning, and there’s a stack of parts,” said Cobotix President Ron Adolf.

It feels like we have a partner, a safety team.

For a sheet metal fabricator where time of the essence, this means they can increase output and profits.

“That product was never ever touched by a human being. Robots even hook it up to the paint skid. The cost of one product dropped from $10 to $3.90, and Cobotix makes more money on each one,” said Cobotix COO Alex Kurilyak.

Co-locating production in the customer’s facility eliminates many transportation and logistics costs.

Recently, Cobotix has set up a facility in house at Fluxwerx Illumination, a commercial lighting company in Surrey— another example of how the company innovates and stays ahead of the times.

Co-locating production in the customer’s facility eliminates many transportation and logistics costs, saving about $150,000 to $200,000 per year.

A symbiotic relationship, it is a shift from the traditional vendor/supplier relationship that can be fraught with a lot of waste and inefficiencies.

“We do not actually just give them what they want, we’re ahead of them. They can’t keep up with us, and that company is rapidly growing,” said Kurilyak.

The company’s three-year plan is to have cells in Seattle, Southern California, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia. In British Columbia, they plan to grow from two facilities to five.

“We grow together, we win together… and that’s a much more interesting place to be,” said Adolf.

Rigor in safety training

Data-driven safety investments help Mission Hill stay ahead

By Ada Slivinski – In the B.C. Interior, Mission Hill is one of the three largest commercial winery operations. With more than 200 employees at peak harvest season, they need to run as a well-oiled machine to keep everyone trained and workplace injuries at bay.

“My experience has been that larger wineries tend to have more varied equipment, more employees, and they were usually the first to develop new safety systems as a result of that,” said Les Shorter, Mission Hill Director of Operations.

“In the early 90’s, a person might receive an hour or two of instruction at most and a quick tour of the plant. You’d put them on the packaging line, and they’d learn sort of by doing. Now, our orientations are two weeks long,” says Shorter.

“We spend a great deal of time on the orientation of new employees, and that has been a great area of focus over the past number of years,” says Shorter.

Over the past 20 years, winery safety systems have improved substantially, especially when it comes to confined space and lockout procedures. Today, lockouts are all the same colour and they work in the same manner so that staff trained on one can turn off all of them.

Mission Hill began work with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance several years ago when safety advisor Sheldon McKee came to do a GAP analysis. McKee compared what the winery was doing to the Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) and found that though they were doing many of the right things, they lacked documentation. Since then, they have had McKee in many times to review confined space, lockout procedures, vehicle traffic, slips trips and falls, and anything else that could be a potential safety risk.

In the process, Mission Hill has worked from a small surcharge to on par with the industry rate for wineries (which itself has steadily been dropping due to improvements in safety). The ultimate goal is a rate rebate which they hope to achieve through OSSE certification in the near future.

In addition to their work with the Alliance, Mission Hill has worked closely with WorkSafeBC, inviting them in regularly.

“They may come for a visit and may not be looking specifically at a certain area like confined space, but we are going to be above and beyond what their expectations will be. We try to be ahead of the curve and invite them in: we don’t wait for them to do an inspection and be at our doorstep.” says Jody Zummack, Manager of Operations.

For example, she shares, with their press rescue systems, they have gone above and beyond the standard harness and purchased state of the art press rescue equipment.

“Instead of following the standard, we try to set the standard,” said Zummack.

We spend a great deal of time on the orientation of new employees, and that has been a great area of focus over the past number of years.


One thing that allows Mission Hill to stay ahead of the curve is watching their safety data closely.

“A number of years ago, we noticed a trend on our hospitality side: terrace, tours and catering—they weren’t serious incidents—a slip, a trip, a cut finger. They weren’t missing a lot of time, but we beefed up the training for new young workers and their supervisors,” says Shorter.

“WorkSafe looks at us as one employer, and these small events are still reportable incidents. “We were doing pretty well on the plant side because we had done all of this extra work, but on the hospitality side, we felt we could do better,” adds Shorter.

Instead of following the standard, we try to set the standard.


When a new employee joins the winery, safety training is built into the orientation. In addition, Zummack organizes an annual safety day in March for the team. The fair includes safety stations with specialists from organizations such as the Manufacturing Safety Alliance doing fall arrest, fit testing, and more.

“We are definitely very involved in the person we hire—how they’re progressing and how they’re doing,” says Zummack, “and a big part of that is safety. Are they getting it and are they practicing it?”

“I think people realize that we put the time and energy into safety. When you shut down an entire operation to have a safety day, that’s a big deal—and I mean every department. We completely shut down the entire plant to do that, just to make sure that these people are well-versed in safety,” Zummack adds.

Ripley: Safety as a family affair

The next generation is pushing safety protocols forward

By Ada Slivinksi – Ripley Stainless in Summerland, BC, turns 40 this year. Lara Hughes, the company’s human resources and safety professional, turns 41. The daughter of President Ed Ripley, she has run around the shop since she was a toddler.

Years ago, there were no safety restraints,” says Hughes. “Back in 1979, when we first started, we did probably nothing. We didn’t wear respirators; our welders didn’t wear long sleeves when they were welding,” Hughes adds.


“He knocked his breath out. I remember hearing that story as a kid. I remember thinking –‘that was dumb,’” says Hughes. Today, the company has a policy that no one can work in the shop alone.

Their foreman developed the first confined space book in the Okanagan and shared it with competitors and other companies dealing with confined space risks. “That’s actually what WorkSafe took and tried to get other companies to [create theirs] around,” said Hughes.

In 2018, the regulation was updated. “It was quite a long year for me wrapping my head around this,” Hughes says, “reading the old version, reading what it should be, and partnering with the Safety Alliance, partnering with Green Seal Safety to teach our staff about the importance of confined space and what it means to Ripley.”

Part of the process was scaling the manual and required documentation forms back to what was really necessary for their particular situation.

Originally, for their confined space rescue, Ripley had a team of two rescue people; today, they have six, just in case somebody is away. Any time there is a new tank configuration that they haven’t done a rescue on, they will do a trial.

“It really feels real when you put a real human in a rescue,” said Hughes. “‘Justin’ is our dummy, and it kind of feels somewhat dangerous—but when the rescue team used me for practice, for some reason you just panic. I’m not in any way in danger, but this makes it real!”

It really feels real when you put a real human in a rescue.

At Ripley, they have also educated their team on mental health, ergonomics, and workplace inclusion. The core focus of Ripley’s safety education, however, is prevention—as Hughes says, “Being pre-prepared for those horrible moments and hoping it never happens.”

Too few radiation safety programs

New x-ray safety workshop

How prevalent is x-ray radiation risk within the manufacturing sector? Are manufacturers equipped to address this emerging risk? The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC
and Radiation Safety Institute of Canada conducted an exploratory review to find out.

“Without effective radiation risk and control programs, the continued growth and new applications of x-ray technologies are expected to increase the level of risk for workers,” says Steve Horvath, CEO of the RSIC. “A serious emerging health risk could impact the manufacturing industry.”

Cancers of various types are a potential outcome of occupational overexposure to radiation. That is why managing the risk of radiation exposure from industrial x-ray equipment is critical. Due to the long latency periods, sometimes decades later, connecting individual incidents of cancer to a specific workplace exposure will continue to be a challenge.

“A proactive approach to workplace radiation exposure, focused on prevention is not only a safe alternative, but a necessity,” says Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC’s CEO Lisa McGuire.


In 2018, the two organizations designed an online radiation awareness course and interactive survey to understand the prevalence of radiation risk and controls in manufacturing. The research found few well-developed radiation safety programs in place. In response, the RSIC and the Alliance have engaged in a new partnership to provide radiation education and support to organizations at risk.


“Our successful partnership with the Alliance was built on their proven reputation among the BC manufacturing community for being credible, knowledgeable, and proactive on workplace health issues and emerging risks, and their ability to develop effective OHS management systems and workplace tools,” says Horvath.

A proactive approach to workplace radiation exposure, focused on prevention is not only a safe alternative, but a necessity.

“Our collaboration has resulted in practical solutions for BC employers to avoid potential health risks associated with new and developing x-ray source technologies,” Horvath adds.

“The hope is that it will help fill a void, help to improve radiation safety in the workplace and reduce radiationrelated injuries,” says White. The next step is to provide tools and resources for employers to learn the scope of risks, compliance levels and controls of radiation.

At Make It Safe in October, presenters from the Alliance and WorkSafeBC will deliver an introduction to this new workshop on x-ray safety.

“We don’t know everything that we need to when it comes to radiation, but we’re learning and the science is evolving,” says White.

Autumn 2019: Safety Education

Mauser Packaging Solutions Celebrates OSSE Certification

Langley Township employer Mauser Packaging Solutions celebrated its recent achievement of Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) certification in a ceremony at its local facility today. 

“We are excited and honored to receive the Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence certification,” said Plant Manager Matthew Ralph. “It’s an outstanding achievement made possible through dedicated commitment, passion and a never-ending pursuit to ensure a safe work environment. This certification delivers a solid foundation to enable continuous development of our safety program.” 

OSSE is the workplace health and safety Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for BC manufacturers. 

“In some industry sectors, COR certification is a prerequisite to bid on major projects,” notes Wayne Arondus, COO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, WorkSafeBC Certifying Partner for the OSSE program. “While that is not yet the case in many manufacturing industries, forward-thinking employers such as Mauser Packaging Solutions pursue OSSE certification to demonstrate their dedication to protecting workers and running a world-class, sustainable operation.” 

The benefits of OSSE certification in worker health and safety and business sustainability are substantial. Dr. Sean Tucker, a researcher from the Centre of Management Development at the University of Regina, compared the average injury rates of manufacturing companies before and after OSSE certification. Preliminary results reveal nearly a 50 per cent reduction in time-loss injuries in OSSE certified companies from three years before certification to three years after. 

Certified companies are also eligible for financial benefits, including a 10 per cent annual rebate on WorkSafeBC premiums and a new benefit that recognizes OSSE certification with a 15 per cent rebate on property and casualty insurance from CapriCMW. 

Mauser Packaging Solutions earned a 95 per cent overall score in the comprehensive OSSE safety program audit performed by a certified external auditor, 15 per cent higher than the 80 per cent required to achieve certification. 

“We are delighted to celebrate this achievement with Mauser today,” added Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO Lisa McGuire. “By participating in the OSSE program, they clearly demonstrate that they are taking effective and proactive measures to develop and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for their people.” 


About Mauser Packaging Solutions 

Mauser Packaging Solutions is a global leader in solutions and services across the packaging lifecycle, providing large and small metal, plastic, fiber and hybrid packaging worldwide to companies in industries from food, beverage, personal care and pharmaceuticals to chemicals, petrochemicals, agrochemicals and paints. Bringing together the very best of its four legacy companies—BWAY, MAUSER Group, NCG and ICS—Mauser Packaging Solutions offers its customers true sustainability at scale.  

Mauser Packaging Solutions’ global headquarters is located in Oak Brook, Illinois and employs more than 11,000 team members worldwide. Mauser Packaging Solutions is a Stone Canyon Industries LLC company. Stone Canyon Industries is a global industrial holding company based in Los Angeles, California. 

OHS Training in Focus

The BC manufacturing sector is facing significant pressure to adapt within an evolving world—integrating new technology to stay competitive and finding new ways to address staffing shortages in a diverse and changing employee demographic. That level of change brings with it not only operational challenges, but also the potential for new health and safety risks.

As we prepare for the upcoming Make It Safe Conference, our focus is on delivering health and safety education to meet the changing training needs of our members. In this issue, we share experiences from member companies using training and innovation to address increasing competition, staffing challenges, and workplace safety risks.

We look at a Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC pilot training program to increase awareness of the radiation risks associated with the use of x-ray technology in manufacturing and quality control, and the controls needed to protect workers from exposure.

We travel to the Okanagan, visiting Ripley Stainless Steel in Summerland, to talk about prevention-focused education. Ripley’s story spotlights confined space safety training, motivated by a long-ago fall into a confined space by the company’s founder while working alone.

Traveling north to Kelowna, we stop in at Mission Hill Winery, where the conversation turns to data-driven safety management and a focus on new worker orientation and ongoing education—including a day-long annual health and safety fair for employees.

We visit sheet metal fabricator Cobotix in Port Coquitlam to explore how integrating robotics is reducing risk in the production process and helping retain workers by automating repetitive tasks and freeing up staff to work on more interesting and complex tasks.

And we talk with BC Ferries CEO and recent BC Safety Charter signatory Mark Collins about the importance of leadership in health in safety, vigilance against complacency, and the corporation’s dedication to safety education, inside BC Ferries and in the marine industry worldwide.

Also in this issue, we are excited to highlight the October 24-25 Make It Safe Conference at UBC, and unveil a valuable new insurance benefit exclusively for OSSE-certified companies.

While the Alliance offers a range of services to support you, we know that training has a measurable impact on safety performance. From new classroom and webinar training options to a new online learning management system we are piloting this fall, to the expanded program at this year’s Make It Safe

Conference, we are committed to high-value training that delivers real impact in the health and safety of your workers..

We look forward to seeing you at Make It Safe!