BACKGROUNDER | COVID-19 Resources for BC Manufacturers and Food Processors from the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC

MEDIA RELEASE | Keeping essential manufacturing and food processing workers safe is key to maintaining the supply chain in British Columbia

CHILLIWACK, BC– Across the province, manufacturers and food processors are taking action to protect their employees and operations from the impacts of COVID-19. They are working to maintain our supply chain and ensure British Columbians have access to vital food and goods. 

The risk to food availability is in the spotlight with the recent outbreaks in four Lower Mainland poultry processing facilities.  

“We have been continuously impressed by the efforts some members have taken to reduce the risk of exposure in their production facilities and ensure business continuity as they ramp up to protect the integrity of our supply chain,” said Lisa McGuire, Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO. “Through incidents like these, Canadians are gaining a new understanding of the importance of the essential manufacturing sector—and of the critical role of health and safety in a sustainable supply chain.” 

“Many industries continue to face challenges when it comes to addressing the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, as we’ve seen from the recent outbreaks in poultry processing facilities. The Alliance is actively working with companies to strengthen their controls in light of these events,” adds McGuire. 

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance safety advisors are working directly with manufacturers and food processors to help them implement the most effective controls to address the specific health and safety risks to protect workers. 

Production facilities face unique challenges in relation to the current health recommendations restricting gatherings of more than 50 people in one place and maintaining physical distancing between workers. They have adapted production lines where possible to increase the space between workstations or add physical barriers. In addition, operators have adjusted schedules to stagger shifts and limit the number of employees on a shift. 

Most manufacturers and food processors have restricted access, excluding outside visitors from the plants. Some are adding new personal protective equipment where close work is still required. Other adaptations include increasing handwashing stations, closing or restricting access to lunchrooms and other social spaces, additional sanitization, training, signage, and frequent communication with employees. 

“These efforts to keep workers safe are a critical factor to keep essential businesses running,” McGuire adds. 

“Every day we are seeing amazing examples of manufacturers rising to the challenge of this virus in British Columbia,” notes Wayne Arondus, COO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “Some manufacturers are pivoting production lines altogether to meet the need for high-demand items such as hand sanitizer, while others are working collaboratively to solve the unique safety issues for employees created by COVID-19.” 

The health and safety advisors and specialists at the Alliance are on call to help manufacturers and food processors keep workers safe through the pandemic, with an OHS Support Line (604-795-9595) for customized support. Advisors are supporting businesses across the province via phone and video consultations. In addition, the Alliance has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 web resource (safetyalliancebc.ca/covid-19), including an ongoing webinar series addressing key COVID-19 topics for manufacturers and food processors. 

“We are committed to adapting our services to meet the safety needs of the manufacturing sector,” McGuire adds, “It’s critical for BC’s manufacturers and food processors to know they have the support of our safety experts to help them maintain essential operations.” 

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Backgrounder

Learn more about the resources and supports that the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC has developed for BC manufacturers and food processors to support them through COVID-19.

For media inquiries and images please contact:

Lisa Thibault, Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC
604.991.7423 |  l.thibault@safetyalliancebc.ca

National Day of Mourning

On April 28 each year, we observe a Day of Mourning for every worker in British Columbia who was killed, injured or made ill on the job. The Manufacturing Safety Alliance stands in solidarity with all BC workers, their families, friends and loved ones as we mourn the 140 BC workers who lost their lives last year. 

Join us for a moment of silence at 10:30 am as we remember those we have lost. 

As we continue to adapt our lives and work due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize that we cannot gather together to mourn the loss this year. Though we won’t be there in person to share in the grief of the passing of our fallen workers, the Alliance joins all British Columbians in remembrance. 

The Day of Mourning also provides us with a collective opportunity to renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and support BC workers to go home safe to their families, every day. 

Let’s come together today to remember all those whose lives have been lost or forever changed by injury or illness from their work. 

Read stories from BC workers and their families and watch a video message at https://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca/.

BC Manufacturers Pivot to create Personal Protective Equipment for Essential Workers in the BC Food Supply Chain

Chilliwack, BC – The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is the non-profit health and safety association for BC manufacturers and food processors. Beyond the medical sector, the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is hitting Alliance member companies hard as well, leaving food processors in particular, scrambling to locate appropriate PPE for their frontline workers. 

In response, several local manufacturers have pivoted to meet the need by retooling their factories to design and manufacture PPE themselves. One such manufacturer is METHOD Innovation Partners Inc., of Langley. METHOD is a plastics design, engineering, and manufacturing company whose tag line is ‘WE MAKE IT POSSIBLE™.’ They collaborated with several industry groups, including the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, BC Food & Beverage, and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, as well as local food processors, including Fine Choice Foods in Richmond, to design a face shield to be used in food processing in response to COVID-19. 

This initiative began when CEO of Fine Choice Foods and Vice-Chair of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, Jason Longden, connected with the President of METHOD, Carl Philibert, to design face shields to further protect his food manufacturing staff. 

“It is absolutely critical at these times to take every proactive measure to protect our workers in food manufacturing, which is considered an essential service—workers who come to work every day to provide food to our communities,” said Longden. “PPE was very difficult to source, and I felt it was my obligation to find a creative partner to make these important face shields for my staff.”  

To help ensure frontline workers knew about this important supply chain, Rick Gibbs, President of Neutron Factory Works and Chairman of BC Food & Beverage got involved.  

“Through the efforts of the industry associations, we’ve successfully connected BC’s leading manufacturers to our local food producers to provide PPE and other essential supplies to frontline workers,” said Gibbs. 

“While the industry is doing everything we can to ensure workers continue to work safely, we simply cannot keep up with the demand,” Gibbs added. “We need immediate government support to procure large volumes of essential supplies from suppliers local and overseas and to assist local manufactures in retooling. As each hour goes by, sourcing necessities is becoming exponentially more challenging. The potential for a food crisis is very real.” 

METHOD started with an open-source design, and when one of their creative designers stepped up with enhancements, it was clear that this would be an important item at this unprecedented time. METHOD then worked with Fine Choice Foods to ensure what they would produce locally would meet stringent food safety standards. METHOD can produce this critical PPE locally and quickly and can incorporate custom design features when required. They can currently produce more than 2,000 shields per day. 

These shields are a clear PETG plastic, are sterilizable, have high impact strength, and can be cleaned and reused for multiple shifts. The use of PPE in the food processing sector helps protect frontline workers who perform critical work in food production and supports the supply chain of essential goods in British Columbia. It also provides a level of comfort to workers who can feel additional stress working during this crisis.

An associate member of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance, Grizzly Force, who provides temporary labour to the manufacturing and food processing sectors, connected with METHOD through a network of partners. Grizzly Force is now providing the METHOD FS1 face shields free of charge to employers who use their platform to fill their staffing needs. 

While the shortage of personal protective equipment remains an important concern for frontline health care workers, PPE is also critical to protect our food supply chain and keep BC food processing workers safe. Several BC manufacturers, including METHOD, are working to address this gap during this critical time.

“We are extremely proud at METHOD to be part of ensuring our essential industries have the necessary PPE to continue to work and feel safe,” said Philibert. “My talented team is committed to making these face shields as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can be in the hands of these workers immediately,” said Philibert.  “I am delighted to work with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC to help their members get access to them and thank them for their support.” 

“While industry associations such as BC Food & Beverage and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters work with government agencies to help secure the supply of PPE to support our industries, our role as a health and safety association is to help manufacturers and food processors implement the plans and operational changes to maintain a vital food supply,” noted Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO Lisa McGuire. “We have safety advisors on call, and resources online, to support employers with the advice and training they need to protect our province’s essential food production workers.”

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About the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (www.safetyalliancebc.cais the not-for-profit health and safety association for British Columbia manufacturers and food processors and the WorkSafeBC Certifying Partner for the Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (the Certificate of Recognition, or COR, program for the manufacturing sector). The Alliance is committed to transforming the health and safety culture of organizations through effective OHS management systems, training, and certification.

For media inquiries, please contact Lisa Thibault, Marketing and PR Specialist, 604.991.7423 | l.thibault@safetyalliancebc.ca

About METHOD Innovation Partners

Since 1981 METHOD has built the reputation of being a trusted partner by successfully bringing customers’ products to market. Whether it’s the creation of point-of-sale displays, OEM or After Market products or the re-engineering of entire manufacturing processes, METHOD has worked tirelessly across a wide variety of industries to redefine what is possible.

www.methodinnovates.com

About Fine Choice Foods

Fine Choice Foods is a Canadian-owned, family-run business, dedicated to delivering quality Asian foods for the North American Market since 1986. Specializing in hand-rolled spring rolls, potstickers, wontons and more, the company has grown from a small store on Cambie St. in Vancouver employing 3 people, to a plant in Richmond employing over 115 people.

About the BC Food and Beverage Association

BC Food & Beverage is a not-for-profit organization representing all segments of the food, beverage, and nutraceutical processing industry, and to coordinate common industry activities and resources under one umbrella. The Association represents micro, small, medium, and large processing companies in BC, and has more than 500 member companies.

For more information and SKYPE interviews:  CEO James Donaldson, TEL: 604-371-4245 james@bcfb.ca

A message from CEO Lisa McGuire

Globally, we are faced with the biggest health and safety crisis of the century.

It is testing our ability to adapt quickly or risk difficult and heart-wrenching consequences. Can we continue to do what we must to change and adapt our behaviors to minimize exposure and transmission?

The impact of our decisions rests on all our shoulders as Canadians: to be selfless and not selfish, for all of us. And to forever express our gratitude to our healthcare providers, essential service workers, and the manufacturers, food processors, and other essential businesses and workers who continue to support our needs through this unprecedented time.

Changing our behaviors is not easy.

As CEO of an association dedicated to providing occupational health and safety advice and training to the British Columbia manufacturers, I know it takes monumental effort to change workplace culture. Motivation, knowledge, and strong leadership are important drivers of success.

Companies with effective health and safety systems and emergency control plans are best equipped to adapt in a crisis, but we are all capable of prioritizing our efforts to implement effective controls in our businesses and at home, to protect our families and each other.

Through this time, we need to recognize the hazards we face in our industries and remain vigilant to control them—despite the long hours and new ways of working—to protect our people.

If you manufacture or process food or materials in BC, as your health and safety association, we are here to support you through this and beyond.

Our safety advisors, trainers, and specialists are at your call. Please continue to reach out for the advice, training, and support you to safeguard your people and your business. And connect with us for COVID-19 news, resources and training, and frequently asked questions for manufacturing and food processing companies.

When you find yourself struggling, as we all will at times throughout this challenge, take a pause and remember that many countries face much greater challenges. I ask you to reflect for a moment and appreciate how fortunate we really are in Canada.

I was traveling with my family in the islands of southeastern Indonesia when the virus was declared a pandemic and governments began calling people home. Shortly thereafter, the Indonesian government closed its borders to foreigners, despite the fact that tourism in the Southeastern Islands is the single most important contributor to their economy. The Indonesian people in this area survive on an average monthly salary of $300 CAD that largely depends on tourism. Food is bartered in large, open, congested markets, and only the very sick are supported through a very limited health care system.

Stores that do exist are visited infrequently by locals. There are limited products for purchase, and toilet paper is always a luxury item, almost exclusively purchased by foreigners. Yet with what they have, they always welcomed our family with smiles, hospitality, and kindness—and without hesitation.

Throughout our travels, we saw fear in the eyes of the Indonesian people when the “COVID-19” topic surfaced. It is not hard to understand why as the outcome of a serious outbreak with this fragile infrastructure will likely be faced with catastrophic outcomes. Our experience left us humbled and full of appreciation for all we have in Canada—and disturbed when hearing about some of the hoarding behavior while abroad. Being without our favorite brand or grocery item when we want it, or staying indoors in our well-built homes, is really a very small hardship compared to what nations like Indonesia will likely face in the very near future. Through their eyes, our day today, and the extensive government programs being rolled out to minimize the hardship in our country, must seem nothing less than extraordinary support to help us all through this period.

I am so proud of how our Alliance team, our manufacturer members, and all Canadians are working side by side through this crisis. How we are adapting to address PPE shortfalls, with our manufacturing community pivoting to modify existing production processes to protect our workers and communities. Examples such as these will be remembered for generations.

In closing, please remember this…that however long it seems now, there will be an end. How long this period lasts depends on each of us—and how effective we are as a united force, through our collective efforts to prevent the spread of the virus and protect our frontline workers, our families, and each other.

COVID-19 Update #3 | COVID-19 FAQs for Manufacturers and Food Processors + Training News

COVID-19 FAQs | Answers for manufacturers and food processors

What are the best ways to protect workers and keep production up and running during the current public health crisis?

We continue to consult with WorkSafeBC and provincial health authorities to share the best answers available day-to-day. For Frequently Asked Questions and links to the best news and resources for manufacturers and food processors regarding COVID-19, watch this page: https://safetyalliancebc.ca/covid-19-resources-for-bc-manufacturers

An important message from WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC has decided to allow employers to defer payment of their Q1 2020 premiums by three months. Learn more on our website: https://safetyalliancebc.ca/message-from-worksafebc-covid-19/

Training and event updates

In addition to the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala and April training events announced earlier, we are also postponing May training events:

  • All NAOSH Week Open Learning Classes
  • May 12 Dust Hazard Analysis

We will be in touch as soon as we are able to share new dates for these classes and workshops.

20% Off Online Training

Some of our members are working to keep up with increased demand while others are dealing with slowdowns and remote work. To support you all, we have a catalog of workplace health and safety training courses online.

Through May 31, BC manufacturers and food processors:

  • Save 20% off all online safety training
  • Take online safety awareness courses at no charge
  • Coupon code: MEMBER20

Book your Safety Committee training or learn more about a specific safety topic on your own schedule—in our newly updated Online Training Centre.

safetyalliancebc.ca/training  | coupon code: MEMBER20

Message from WorkSafeBC: COVID-19

Good afternoon everyone,

Hope you are all doing well during this time.

WorkSafeBC is actively monitoring and adjusting to the COVID-19 situation to determine how we can best support our stakeholders around the province.

We know employers are facing a number of challenges and uncertainty at this time, so we have decided to allow employers to defer payment of their Q1 2020 premiums by three months. This means employers who report payroll and make payments on a quarterly basis, as well as Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage holders, can defer payment until June 30, 2020. Employers who report annually will not be impacted because they do not report payroll or pay premiums until March 2021.

Employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis may still find it to their advantage to report their payroll by April 20, even if they defer payment, to ensure their account balance is accurate and clearance is not negatively impacted.

We will be informing employers of their option to defer in our upcoming Q1 mailing, as well as through worksafebc.com and incoming phone messages to our Employer Service Centre. I want to make sure you had advance notice before we communicate more broadly. Please share this email as appropriate.

We know COVID-19 is expected to cause financial hardship for many of B.C.’s employers and we are hoping these measures provide them with some relief.

Thanks

Chris

Chris Back
Director, OHS Consultation & Education Services

WorkSafeBC
6951 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC
worksafebc.com

COVID-19 Update #2 – Services and Events Update

As we continue to consult with WorkSafeBC and review the ongoing situation in British Columbia, we remain focused on protecting the health and safety of our manufacturing members and our staff.

We’re here to help!

As part of our commitment to keep our staff safe and to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Canada, many of the Alliance staff are working remotely. However, our advisors are available to talk by phone, email or online, so please reach out for any support or questions you may have.

Important changes to our services and upcoming events

As we work together to flatten the curve of the virus in British Columbia, please note:

If you have a safety advisor visit, training, or consulting appointment scheduled in the coming weeks we will be in touch to discuss options for phone or video conferencing or to reschedule for a later date.

The following events will be rescheduled:

  • April 2 Industrial Storage Racking Open Learning Class
  • April 15 Stakeholders in Safety Networking Event at Vancouver Island Brewing
  • April 23 Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala

We will share information on new dates as soon as they are available. If you have already purchased event tickets, we will contact you to discuss options.

We continue to review our May events at this time—including our NAOSH Week lineup of Open Learning classes, Dust Hazard Analysis course, and AGM and Legislative Assembly Luncheon. We are discussing daily and will share information as soon as possible if plans change for those events.

We are grateful and proud to be your partners in health and safety and appreciate your patience as we monitor the evolving situation and make the best decisions together to protect your people and ours.

Remote resources

If you have staff working remotely and want to use some of this time to make headway on writing and revising safe work procedures, or training your safety committee members, check out our online training, tools, and resources.

Need help? With many of our onsite activities postponed, our advisors are at your call (or email) for support: 1-604-795-9595.

We will stay in touch as plans change. For regular updates, links, and tips, follow us on social media:

Covid-19 update

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is closely monitoring the impact of Covid-19 for our employees, members, and the manufacturing and food processing industries in British Columbia.

As a result of the recent call from the BC Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through aggressive social distancing, the Alliance has instituted a voluntary work-from-home protocol for our staff for the coming week as we continue to review the situation.

Alliance employees are equipped to work effectively from home, ensuring that we will continue to provide the service and support that our members have come to expect from us.

At this time, we have made no changes to upcoming trainings, advisory visits or events. We will continue to seek guidance on our public events from WorkSafeBC and the BC Centre for Disease Control. Any updates or changes to scheduled events will be communicated as soon as they are available.

For more information on Covid-19:

WorkSafeBC and public health agencies have up-to-date advice for employers in regards to the COVID-19 risk and preparedness. We encourage you to review the following resources:

In addition, you can contact the Health Canada 2019 COVID-19 information line at 1-833-784-4397 or by email: phac.info.aspc@canada.ca.