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!

Leading With Safety

By Lisa McGuire – By demonstrating a commitment to safety education from the first day of a new worker’s orientation, we set the stage for a sustainable safety culture.  

That is a lesson we have learned firsthand at the Alliance, as an important step in our own OSSE journey was to build effective safety training and best practices into the orientation of every new employee, regardless of role. 

For our OSSE-certified members, integrated safety orientation is common practice. Manufacturing staff learn their safety rights and responsibilities upfront, from the first day on the job. It is a practice that underscores the value of staff safety in the organization, instilling a safety mindset that becomes part of the team culture and the organization’s DNA. 

In this issue, we share examples from Alliance member companies in different industries. You will discover employer resources available from the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, and learn about the Alliance’s involvement with the Mission Community Skills Centre, providing safety education as a core element of vocational skills training for future manufacturing workers.  

Safety is a marketable skill, and a commitment to worker safety is an attractive and marketable quality in an industry increasingly challenged to recruit and retain qualified team members. Many of our members tell us that their organization’s safety culture has had a measurable impact on their ability to attract and retain workers.  

Through training partnerships such as the Community Skills Centre initiative and Catalyst frontline leader training, the Alliance is actively working to raise awareness of the manufacturing industry’s commitment to safety. Through training, we are laying important groundwork with our members’ safety leaders and future workers.  

Together with our members, we are working to transform the workplace culture through safety education that begins from the first day of a worker’s employment.

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.

Emerging Risks: A global view

by Lisa McGuire – Emerging risks, be they cultural or technical, present both a challenge and an opportunity for the Alliance and its members. For our individual members the risks may be worksite specific, while for the Alliance they are more broadly focused, as we look to develop tools and resources to meet the health and safety needs of a diverse manufacturing industry.

Early recognition of risk is vital; it allows an organization the opportunity to take the lead on integrating effective controls into business processes rather than reacting to external pressures enacted by regulation or policy.

Risk can take many forms. Technology is rapidly changing the way products are made. This creates new challenges as controls are defined to mitigate the risks that emerge. To help prepare our members for the future, the Alliance continually scans the globe looking for best practices. Our objective is first to understand what various agencies are doing and then examine their work through the lens of BC’s regulatory and business needs.

We are establishing relationships with Germany, a country placing a high priority on understanding the risks of cyber security in computerized machines and England, where companies, not regulators, are driving safety standards to a higher level. Nationally we are working with the Radiation Institute of Canada to understand the risks of introducing radiation-based processes into a workplace and develop tools, training and programs to mitigate them. Provincially we are on the forefront of understanding current, high impact risks. We are focusing on developing effective programs to help address them, while at the same time working to identify and help control emerging risks.

Together with you, our members, we will continue on the leading edge of identifying and controlling current and emerging risks for the manufacturing sector in BC and together we will lead cultural change that will have not just a national but an international impact.

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.

Safety in Inventory Control & Warehousing

Lisa McGuire CRSP, CEO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC – The solutions to the health and safety issues in manufacturing are as diverse as the industry itself. Yet the challenges are similar: MSIs, injuries resulting from forklift collisions with workers or racking, and slips and falls.

In this issue, we examine how companies adopting changes in warehousing and inventory control create safer work environments. As improvements reshape the internal organizational landscape, the number and frequency of injuries have fallen, lowering WorkSafeBC premiums and positively impacting workplace culture. The organizational environment saw real changes in worker/management relations as hourly staff recognized management commitment to safety.

This Edition also explores companies who apply Lean manufacturing, engineering and administrative solutions to health and safety issues.

Computers are improving forklift operator safety. Smaller, lighter arm-worn radio frequency identification tagging systems are reducing back strain compared to previous heavy waist-worn units.

Ergonomic solutions have introduced strategies such as regular job rotation to increase the diversity of tasks and reduce the potential for muscle strain. Other elements include frequent stretching breaks and the use of non-skid boots on slippery floors.

As companies move forward in their safety journey, they employ Kaizen to empower employees to implement continuous improvement in health and safety as well as productivity. Lean manufacturing best practices can be shared with peers on various Alliance committees to improve industry health and safety performance.

The positive actions taken are demonstrating results. According to WorkSafeBC statistics, manufacturing injury rates have trended down over the past 5 years.

The Alliance is proud to share the best health and safety practices of Member companies. While the Alliance can lay out a path for improvement, it is the commitment of Member companies and their employees that ultimately create successful results.

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

The ROI of eLearning

By Lisa McGuire – In a constantly changing world it is only appropriate that we revisit the way we learn. Changes in technology, workplace demands and balancing the need to upgrade skills and training without decreasing productivity has lead to some exciting developments in education.

According to the largest online community of e-Learning professionals, elearningindustry.com, corporations in the United States have reported that e-Learning is now their second most valuable training method. Some of the reasons for this include less operational downtime while employees are training, an increase in topic retention thanks to the “at your own pace” nature of e-Learning and the bottom line savings of not having to travel and pay for expensive in-person instruction.

The world of e-Learning has taken hold across all spectrums of education. From elementary school kids brushing up their math and chemistry skills with the popular Khan Academy, a website that boasts 10M unique monthly users viewing over 2,400+ educational videos, to higher academia where an estimated one in four university students in the United States took at least one distance education course in the Fall of 2012. It is in the private sector, however, where we really start to see an investment in this new learning paradigm.

Companies have found that investments in e-Learning have increased the flexibility of their employees to complete training, improved the retention of course material resulting from the repeatability of the platform, decreased interruption to the routine of their workforce and a reduction in the real dollars spent on travel and training. In fact, companies who utilize e-Learning tools, according to a recent IBM report, have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50%. For every $1 that a company spends on e-Learning, IBM’s report estimates they can receive $30 worth of productivity. Bottom line, e-Learning is here to stay.

So it is with excitement and optimism that we present the FM Learning Centre to our members. We have responded to your concerns and made an investment in the future of workplace safety training with a platform that will soon be recognized as the standard for education.

Read the full June 2015 FIOSA-MIOSA Newsletter here.

Sustained Engagement


In 2014 we moved beyond our traditional methods of engagement and reviewed our operation from the standpoint of what our members really need from us.

Through over 1,000 phone calls and more than 880 face-to-face meetings we asked our members what was working … and what wasn’t.

Learning from our members, we restructured the OSSE Journey to meet industry needs by providing training and information in bite-sized chunks, at more frequent intervals to support them though the OSSE journey.

We call it our sustained engagement model.

Our goal is to provide a standard of excellence in the provision of health and safety services, programs, resources and training for BC manufacturers that will positively impact the safety culture in the manufacturing sector.


Because we believe there is a distinct performance advantage for companies who have met the OSSE standard and practice continuous improvement.

Initial findings on the relative performance of OSSE-certified vs non-OSSE certified companies are very encouraging and clearly demonstrate positive performance results. More results for OSSE certified companies, from the academic review conducted by UBC are expected in late 2015.

We have a great deal on our plate this year. We have more OSSE registered companies on board than ever before; more companies engaged in our new Safety Pooling System to assist; more training and course offerings for our members; more BC Safety Charter members, and bigger and better conferences and events. Our goal is to bring all of our programs, products and services to world class standards.

Through it all, our main focus remains to ensure that our members receive the help they need to build an effective health and safety system to protect their employees.