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

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

Few radiation safety programs in place, finds joint survey by Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and Radiation Safety Institute of Canada

Chilliwack, BC – The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and Radiation Safety Institute of Canada have conducted an exploratory review to understand the prevalence of x-ray radiation risk and control within the manufacturing sector.

“Without effective radiation risk and control programs, this continued growth and new applications of x-ray technologies are expected to increase the level of risk for workers. A serious emerging health risk could impact the manufacturing industry. Education, proper risk-assessment tools and effective controls are necessary to mitigate these risks,” said Steve Horvath, CEO of the RSIC.

An online radiation awareness course and interactive survey were developed and launched to determine the understanding of the risks associated with radiation. The combined intervention was designed to understand the prevalence of radiation risk and control and to provide knowledge to workers within the manufacturing sector. Completed surveys indicate that there are few well-developed radiation safety programs in place.

Looking ahead, the RSIC and the Alliance have engaged in a memorandum of understanding to work together to provide radiation education and support to organizations that harbor radiation risks.

X-ray and radiation sources are prevalent throughout manufacturing and other sectors looking to increase productivity, quality and product safety such as farming, forestry, saw mills, pulp and paper, construction, pharmaceuticals, and chemical processing.

Product quality needs to be controlled and verified on the production line, and incorporating x-ray, radiography, or laser inspection into a food processing or manufacturing business is one of the most effective ways to safeguard against potential issues and meet ever-increasing industry and consumer standards.

“It’s often a part of weld inspections, internal inspections, fill inspections, and non-destructive testing, and exposure over time can really harm people” said Larry White, the training and resource development specialist who has been working on the project for the Alliance.

“Our successful partnership with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC 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. Our collaboration has resulted in practical solutions for BC employers to avoid potential health risks associated with new and developing x-ray source technologies,” said Horvath.

“The hope is that it will help fill a void, help to improve radiation safety in the workplace and reduce radiation-related injuries,” said White.

He added that what surprised him most in the survey results was how few people know about the risks of radiation even when they’re working with it almost every day, and that there is an overall lack of awareness around the proper safety protocols.

Gaining an understanding of radiation risk to the manufacturing sector in BC allows the Alliance, in collaboration with RSIC, to build the foundation for an effective risk control and mitigation strategy. Providing tools and resources for employers to learn the scope of risks, compliance levels and controls of radiation.

“We don’t know everything that we need to when it comes to radiation, but we’re learning and the science is evolving,” said White.
As food and drug safety and occupational health and safety regulations in BC evolve to address radiation more stringently, the importance of compliance and traceability through every stage of a product’s life cycle will continue to grow. For full compliance, food processors and manufacturers must be able to access product-tracking information simply and quickly. In the future, product inspection equipment will need to function as management tools as well as process control tools to provide the information required to make informed decisions about prevention and guarantee compliance.

At the same time, cancers of various types are a potential outcome of occupational overexposure to radiation. That is why the radiation risks associated with industrial x-ray equipment must be managed. 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,” said Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC’s CEO Lisa McGuire.

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For media inquiries and images please contact:

Ada Slivinski
Marketing & PR Specialist
1.604.991.7423 | a.slivinski@safetyalliancebc.ca

 

Workplace Health, Safety, and Mental Well-being Important to Most Job Seekers, Poll   

Chilliwack, BC – Ninety-four per cent of Canadians currently employed say that workplace health, safety and mental well-being is important when choosing a job, according to an Angus Reid poll commissioned by the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. Yet BC employers lost 2.75 million work days to workplace injury or occupational disease according to WorkSafeBC statistics for its most recent reporting year.

Last week, Alliance executives and board members met with Minister of Labour Harry Bains and MLAs from across the province in Victoria to raise awareness about workplace health and safety and its impact on recruitment and retention. The Alliance shares the Ministry’s goal of making BC the safest place to work in Canada and delivers a range of services to support workplace safety, health, and wellness: the human factors in sustainability for BC manufacturing and food processing brands.

“Challenged to recruit and retain staff in the face of the lowest unemployment in Canada, more BC employers are recognizing they need a robust health and safety system to attract and retain qualified workers,” said Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO Lisa McGuire. “We know that a safe and healthy workplace is what job-seekers are looking for.”

According to the Angus Reid survey, slightly more women than men (97 per cent compared to 91 per cent) said that workplace health and safety was very important or somewhat important. Among young people, 96 per cent of those 18-34 responding said it was very important or somewhat important compared to 93 per cent of those over 35.

Meanwhile, just 77 per cent of Canadians currently working said that decisions made in their workplace consider employee health, safety and well-being all or some of the time, according to the poll conducted in February.

“What this tells us is there is a gap between what is currently happening in Canadian businesses and the management best practices that would help employees feel safer at work,” said McGuire.

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC guides companies through the industry leading Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) certification process. From 2015 to 2017, companies actively engaged with Alliance services saw a 23.7 per cent reduction in time-loss claims, an improvement nearly three times the rate of non-member companies. A strong Occupational Health and Safety culture is the foundation of a sustainable company. The Alliance helps employers transform their culture to where health and safety is a key value within the organization.

Manufacturing is an important driver in BC’s economy accounting for 174,200 jobs and 7.1 per cent of the provincial GDP. In 2017, more than 5,900 workplace injuries cost BC manufacturers $230M in premiums.

About the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC

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

The Alliance currently serves 22 per cent of the manufacturing industry in BC, with potential to serve the entire sector, and is working to reduce barriers to that with a goal of improving health and safety performance across the industry.

 

For media inquiries and images please contact:

Ada Slivinski
Marketing & PR Specialist
1.604.991.7423 | a.slivinski@safetyalliancebc.ca

 

2019 Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala Honours BC Companies that Put Safety First  

Vancouver, BC—On April 24, the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC hosted the 2019 Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala at the Terminal City Club in Vancouver, attended by more than 130 executives, safety leaders, and teams from 30 British Columbia manufacturers and food processors. 

Beginning the evening, Christopher Lung, the inaugural recipient of the Daneen Skilling Scholarship in Occupational Health and Safety Studies shared his personal story about the near miss incident on a construction site that spurred his pursuit of an OHS diploma at BCIT. 

Receiving this year’s prestigious Ben Hume Leadership Award, presented to a BC Safety Charter member for exemplary leadership, was Chris Inkster, President of Freeport Industries, a custom manufacturer of modular structures for industrial, residential, and institutional use that employs more than 80 in West Kelowna. Inkster’s leadership after a serious workplace injury occurred at Freeport, along with his willingness to share everything that he had learned from the incident, inspired his peers to nominate him. Under Inkster’s leadership, Freeport successfully earned Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) certification—the Certificate of Recognition audit for BC manufacturers. 

Also recognized at the event were Ben Hume finalists Barry Marsden, Chairman and CEO of Conair Group Ltd. and Perry McDougall, President of Goodwin Industrial Electric. 

Each year, the Pinnacle Awards Gala recognizes manufacturers for achieving key milestones in improving safety in their workplaces.  

The Topaz Pinnacle Award is granted to companies who have successfully developed and implemented a comprehensive health and safety management system to OSSE certification standards. This year’s recipients were Dinoflex of Salmon Arm, Kingfisher Boats of Vernon, and Victoria’s Viking Air.  

The Sapphire Pinnacle Award is given out to companies whose leadership has demonstrated strong commitment to safety through visible engagement as a BC Safety Charter Signatory. This year’s recipients were Surrey’s EWOS Canada (a Cargill company) and Keith Panel Systems of Burnaby.    

The Emerald Pinnacle Award is granted to companies maintaining their OSSE Certification, are a BC Charter Member in good standing and who have been successful in reducing their Injury Rate below their average Classification Unit (CU) over a 3-year period. This year’s recipients were Sysco Canada Inc of Vancouver and EWOS.    

New Awards in Safety Excellence and Innovation 

This year for the first time, new awards were introduced to recognize a Joint Health and Safety team and worker representative for safety excellence, and safety innovators in four categories. 

The recipients included:  

Worker Representative Safety Excellence Award: Sharleen Dean, from Vancouver’s Daiya Foods, for her example in modelling safe work practices and transitioning new hires to the safety system at Daiya.  

Joint Health & Safety Committee Safety Excellence Award: Knight Signs of Delta, for their weekly workplace inspections, root cause analysis of near misses and accidents, and overall inclusive approach to safety.  

Innovation in OHS Management: Surrey’s Garaventa Lift, for their commitment to safety with weekly toolbox meetings, as demonstrated by their transition through the WorkSafeBC PACE program from five per cent compliance to 100 per cent in 2018; and 

Richmond-based Pinnacle Renewable Energy, for developing an “Owning Safety” initiative to drive culture improvement across its operations in BC, Alberta, & now Alabama, USA. 

Innovation in Safety Training: Garaventa Lift, for introducing various safety training programs to the company with the help of MSABC and other safety agencies; and  

Pinnacle Renewable Energy, whose most successful innovation in training has been their Safety Champion program. Annually, since 2017, each of their operations conducts a joint peer and management selection process to identify hourly workers who will become Safety Champions. 

Innovation in Workplace Wellness: Pinnacle Renewable Energy for their weekly Owning Safety Talks created by their safety team and reviewed every Monday with managers and team leaders at each plant, who then share the information with their team mates at crew talks; and  

Mauser Packaging Solutions in Langley, whose ergonomics program brings a consultant onsite for stretching with all shifts and individual recommendations for stretches to help with specific pain or discomfort. Mauser has also mapped out a walking path for exercising on breaks around the outside of their building. 

Innovation in Workplace Culture: Soprema in Chilliwack, whose inclusive Safety Ambassador program involves the entire staff, promoting OHS as a new way of life for all employees. All employees are encouraged to perform local inspections to identify hazards and assess risks and support the OHS Coordinator for the monitoring of the local OHS action plan; and  

Pinnacle Renewable Energy, whose online employee engagement tool has registered more than 20,000 employee hazard reports, suggestions for improvement, peer to peer safety conversations, and peer observations over three years. Every submission has generated a direct response to “close the loop” from a member of the management team. 

A keynote was delivered by Steve Rio, Founder of Nature of Work and one of the Business in Vancouver Forty Under 40 2018. Rio spoke about the risks presented by overuse of technology and what that means for the modern workplace in terms of increased fatigue and impairment in memory and concentration. Guests were also entertained by local musician Andrew Christopher. 

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

Media contact:  

Ada Slivinski
Marketing & PR Specialist
C. 604.991.7423
A.Slivinski@safetyalliancebc.ca  

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: MANUFACTURING SAFETY ALLIANCE OF BC ANNOUNCES FIRST ANNUAL DANEEN SKILLING SCHOLARSHIP  

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

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

 

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

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

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

Qualifications 

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

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

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

Apply Here 

Daneen Skilling Scholarship Application Form 

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

Media contact:  

Ada Slivinski
Marketing & PR Specialist
C. 604.991.7423
A.Slivinski@safetyalliancebc.ca