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.


Signing ceremony highlights BC Ferries’ commitment to workplace safety

VICTORIA – BC Ferries’ President & CEO Mark Collins is the latest executive to join the BC Safety Charter, a move that highlights the company’s commitment to improving and promoting workplace safety. The signing ceremony took place this morning at BC Ferries’ head office in Victoria, British Columbia.

“Safety is our highest value. Maintaining a safe environment for our customers and employees requires our continued focus and diligence,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “Joining the BC Safety Charter is an opportunity to engage with, and learn from, others who are equally as passionate about enhancing and promoting workplace safety.”

The business case for effective management of health and safety is well documented. Promoting safety, health and wellness in the workplace reduces injury rates, increases productivity and is good for a company’s long-term success. BC Safety Charter members share a vision to make British Columbia the safest place to work in Canada. To achieve this, member organizations start with a commitment from leadership to advocate for workplace health and safety and make improvements where possible.

“We are excited to have Mr. Collins endorse the BC Safety Charter, with the support of BC Ferries behind him,” said George Higgins, Director, BC Safety Charter. “Leading as responsible corporate citizens and encouraging our peers to join us, BC Safety Charter members can not only build sustainable businesses, but also reduce injury rates and influence workplace health and safety across the province.”

“The strength of the BC Safety Charter is the shared commitment of its members,” added Lisa McGuire, CEO, Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “We are honoured to have Mr. Collins join our ranks and look forward to working together with him and the team at BC Ferries toward our shared vision of ensuring BC workers go home to their families safe and well at the end of every workday.”

“Since the implementation of our SailSafe program in 2006, we have worked diligently to lead by example, promoting a culture of safety and wellness across our operations,” added Collins. “We cannot let our guard down. I look forward to collaborating with other BC Safety Charter members to evolve the safety mandate within our organization.”

Mark Collins will be the keynote speaker at the BC Safety Charter Round Table, April 30, 2020 at the Vancouver Club

Safety Advisor Corner: Top 3 Safety Tips for Spring 2017

Tip #1 – Document Management
OHS Program administration can be a daunting task, especially when resorting to binders and bookshelves full of forms, policies and paper. Cloud based applications, like Xilo, help keep track of job descriptions, physical demands analysis, standard operation procedures, safe work practices and much more. If you are still putting pencil to paper, perhaps now is the time to look into software solutions.

Xilo: Think Safety, Think Xilo earatech.com

Tip #2 – Biometrics in Safety
The future of technology in safety include PPE that will measure heart rate, body temperature and other critical metrics that can be reported back to a central location. These new technologies can sound alarms before an incident, assist individuals who are working alone and when necessary disable equipment that could put a disabled worker in danger.

Tip #3 – Online Learning
Training and education in the health and safety world has been transformed in recent years due to the accessibility and user friendly approach to computerized, online training. Although the days of instructor-led classroom training are not over, online learning is quickly becoming the preferred choice of companies who want to train their staff in an affordable, non-disruptive way.

Did you know the Alliance has just launched FREE on-line Combustible Dust courses?

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is pleased to offer three FREE online Combustible Dust training courses for:

  • Workers
  • Contractors
  • Employers & Managers

Accurately identifying, assessing and controlling combustible dust is an essential part of a properly functioning OHS program. These courses are designed to help participants understand the properties of combustible dust, and how these properties need to be managed to mitigate possible fire and explosion hazards in the workplace. As a result of these courses, participants will be better prepared to control combustible dust hazards, develop safe work procedures and prevent incidents and injuries.

Course Description
Each course will provide participants with the key principles and concepts for recognizing the hazards, unsafe conditions and preventive actions associated with combustible dust.

Course Length
3 hours to complete each course, including quizzes.

Delivery Format
Online Learning Centre.

Previous health and safety education and/or experience is an asset, but not a requirement to enroll.

Course Topics

  • Characteristics of Combustible Dust
  • How an Explosion Occurs
  • When Does Accumulation Become a Hazard?
  • How To Control Ignition Sources
  • Controlling Explosion Risk
  • Controlling Dust Accumulation
  • Explosion Protection
  • Physical Site Inspection

Register for FREE safetyalliancebc.ca/online-learning

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

First Law of Robotics

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm – First Law of Robotics, Isaac Asimov, Author of ‘I, Robot’

by Gladys Johnsen – Over the last several decades, the introduction of automated production lines and robotics has become commonplace in most food processing and manufacturing facilities. From basic conveying systems, to complex robotic cells, the ability to produce goods at high speed and accuracy have allowed North American companies to compete in a world of global trade.

Rick Gibbs, President of Neutron Factory Works, believes that automation allows companies to grow through increased production and consistent quality while improving the health and safety of the workers.

Neutron specializes in the installation and maintenance of equipment in manufacturing, processing and warehousing facilities.

The implementation of robotics has decreased worker exposure to hazardous environments and shielded operations staff against unsafe or repetitive tasks, such as welding and heavy lifting. Automation may initially reduce the number of entry-level, low-skilled jobs, however, over the medium to long-term, automation creates new demand for technically-competent operators, maintenance, inspection, and logistics roles.

“Generally, after companies automate, they employ more staff than when they started due to an enhanced competitive position overall” says Gibbs.

Nonetheless, a movement to automation alone is not a guarantee of a safer workplace. One of the biggest challenges Rick and his team see for companies importing automated equipment into Canada is related to Safety;

It can be very costly to upgrade equipment to Canadian standards, which are some of the highest in the world. Safety is the centrepiece of these standards. While the low sticker price of imported equipment may seem like an attractive choice, the liability, safety hazards and subsequent costs to bring the equipment up to domestic standards can quickly outweigh any perceived windfall.
– Rick Gibbs, President, Neutron Factory Works

The primary hazard from automated and robotic equipment is motion. Whereas humans can always maintain an awareness of surroundings, robotics simply follow a preprogrammed routine. Without effective safety integration and design, these robotic systems can start and continue to run, creating a dangerous, or even lethal environment to humans. Consequently, the human operator needs to understand how to safely stop and restart machinery, as well as knowing where to stand to avoid injury or exposure. “Including your company’s health and safety representative in the planning stages for new equipment ensures policies reflecting the new process are updated and workers are appropriately trained,” says Rick. “Involving your team in the decisions to introduce robotics and automation is always a good idea.”

Good planning and training will ensure that new production processes will meet the needs of the company, its workers and clients.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers

Leaders in Aerospace Safety: AITCA on the Journey to OSSE/COR Certification

by Gladys Johnsen – Advanced Integration Technology Canada (AITCA), is the world’s largest provider of automation, factory integration and tooling solutions dedicated to the global aerospace, defence, and space launch vehicle industries. It has over 200,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space in its Langley, BC facility and employs 125 highly-skilled workers.

Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager Human Resources, shares responsibility for the management of AITCA’s health and safety management system with all managers and employees. Debbie says, “From the factory floor through management we understand we each have a role to play.”

In 2016 there was an emphasis on enhancing the AITCA safety management system that included;

    • A glove trial to drive down cuts
    • 6S initiatives for improved housekeeping
    • Five whys for all first aid incidents
    • The addition of safety prescription glasses to the group benefits program

Overall, AITCA experienced a significant reduction in claims costs and incident and lost time rates over the last three years.

One recent safety initiative for AITCA was an interest in understanding what it took to fully comply with WorkSafeBC’s regulations for welding fumes. With new legislation on the horizon for weld fume extraction and control, AITCA reached out to the experts.

The AITCA fabrication shop is an open, well ventilated space where respirators were optional. AITCA engaged the services of a consultant with years of experience in welding environments. With his assistance, education of both management and workers on current welding fume regulations was initiated. Further, an appreciation of WorkSafeBC targets both immediate and long term was explored.

All workers were immediately fit-tested and are now diligently wearing respirators. Education goes a long way in gaining acceptance from the employees as to why certain safety protocols are put into place.

With the assistance of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, AITCA is working towards receiving OSSE (Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence) certification, a comprehensive health and safety management system.

According to Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager, HR at AITCA,

The primary benefit for AITCA is the logical step-by-step approach in having a complete and current safety management system. After the GAP analysis was completed, we knew exactly
what needed to be done, and regular meetings with our advisor keep us on track.

Achieving OSSE certification will set in place a plan for the continuing safety of all employees and people who visit AITCA.

Injury rates in BC Aerospace compared to Injury rates in all of BC Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC works with multiple Classification Units (CUs) related to aviation, including 712027 (Manufacture, or Manufacture and Installation of Structural Metal Products) and 712001 (Aircraft, Automobile or Truck Assembly).

The injury rate, a calculation of injuries per 100 workers, for both CUs has seen an improvement outpacing the provincial average over the past four years.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers