Make It Safe 2018: Innovate, Inspire, and Transform

As October’s Manufacturing Month drew to a close, 120 safety professionals from a diverse group of British Columbia manufacturers gathered at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster for Make It Safe 2018.

In its 12th year, the sold-out Make It Safe conference brought together health and safety leaders, workers, and educators in a unique forum. From Minister Jasmeet Singh Bains’s welcoming message and a high-energy opening keynote with Stuart Ellis-Myers, to Paul Krismer’s inspiring closing session, Make It Safe challenged attendees to put new ideas to work to transform their workplace culture.

Two full-day sessions provided intensive training for frontline leaders, managers, and HR professionals. Seventeen full day and partial-day workshops gave attendees an array of options for focused professional development.

Popular sessions offered insight into industry hot topics such as cannabis policy and enforcement in the workplace and engaging orientation programs for millennials.

Workshops connected the dots between lean manufacturing and safety, introduced innovations in machine safeguarding, and provided practical solutions for incident investigation. Attendees learned leadership best practices and gained new tools to manage stress, prevent MSIs, and better equip their safety teams.

An expert panel brought together leaders from government, industry, academia, and the Manufacturing Safety Alliance to discuss steps to standardize the OHS profession for the manufacturing industry.

In addition, exhibitors Chemscape Safety Technologies, Blackridge Solutions, and SiteDocs Safety Corporation introduced innovative products in manufacturing safety. At Wednesday’s networking dinner, SiteDocs was awarded the Make It Safe Innovation Award for its time-saving, paperless safety document management app.

To all who made time to be away from their businesses to attend, and to the sponsors and exhibitors who helped make this event possible, the Alliance team extends our warmest thanks.


To view photos from Make It Safe 2018, visit


Save the Date:

2019 MAKE IT SAFE  Conference & Trade Show
October 24–25, 2019
UBC Campus, Vancouver

BC JobConnect: Helping integrate immigrant employees into the workforce

When workers are hard to find, one organization helps employers hire the right people and integrate them into the Canadian workplace and society.

BC’s low unemployment rate means there are close to 3,000 unfilled position in manufacturing companies. One source of prospective workers is new immigrants.

For the past 10 years, employers that wish to attract, hire and retain qualified immigrant talent have accessed solutions, tools and resources from the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC), a not-for-profit organization. According to Elizabeth Good, IEC-BC’s External Relations Strategist,

“Many companies have an interest in increasing the diversity of their staff but wonder how to hire and integrate new Canadians. That’s where we help with online tools and resources, webinars and regional seminars.”

One of IEC-BC’s online tools is BC JobConnect, a customized platform connecting BC employers with newcomer job seekers. About 18% of registered employer partners on BC JobConnect are manufacturers.

Employer partners can use the platform to identify qualified talent by searching keywords or occupations and access job seekers’ profiles. They can also post positions on BC JobConnect. The site has close to 900 registered workers, 169 of whom have indicated a desire to work in manufacturing.

When a company becomes an employer partner, IEC-BC program staff works to connect it with qualified newcomer candidates. IEC-BC also helps employers smooth the entry of workers who are new to Canada.

Using the IEC-BC Toolkit, one BC company hired 22 Syrian refugees in 2016. Customized tools and resources, developed with input from both workers and employers, helped make new hires aware of worker rights and responsibilities and employer expectations, while helping employers understand the context and value of newcomers’ previous work history.

“The benefit of such a comprehensive suite of resources and online tools,” says Elizabeth, “is that employers of any size can review resources, both before and after hiring, and discuss with us how best to use them.”

Through its daily contact with employers, the IEC-BC has a deep understanding of the unique contribution new Canadian workers can make to a company. IEC-BC acts as a strong voice bringing the employer perspective to the development of employment policies, programs and services that support the integration of immigrant talent to BC’s labour market.

For more information and examples of employer tools and resources visit

Freeport Industries: Sharing the value of safety in a diverse workplace

Keeping employees safe starts with effective safety orientation, a buddy system, and regular safety conversations in the workplace.

Freeport Industries Ltd. in Westbank has 80 workers who design and build customized modular structures for residential, commercial, and industrial clients in BC and Alberta.

While the number of employees remains stable, the demographics and diversity of the workforce constantly changes. BC’s building boom has given workers more options, so worker recruitment is continuous.

“We work with local schools, colleges, First Nations, and immigrant societies to encourage workers to come to Freeport,” says Jacqui Lloyd, Freeport’s Human Resources and Safety Manager.

“As a result of worker turnover, particularly in the lower-skilled positions, we are in a constant training mode, adapting our safety orientation and training programs to accommodate young workers, as well as workers with cognitive or physical limitations or cultural sensitivities.”

At Freeport, safety starts at the top. Freeport president Chris Inkster discusses safety at a monthly town hall meeting. Plants hold weekly Toolbox talks, and worksites have daily safety reviews. All subcontractors entering a site must prove they know and understand safety protocols.

New hires at Freeport receive an orientation from Jacqui, emphasizing the company’s safety program, and a site orientation from a supervisor. Each new worker is then matched with an experienced buddy for three months. The buddy makes sure the new worker understands both why and how to work safely.

Every couple of weeks, a skills report on what the new worker has learned and where more training is needed is filed. At the end of the three months, the new worker is assessed and, with a supervisor’s approval, moves to working independently on those skills mastered, while continuing with the buddy on skills that need to develop.

This On-the-Job* training system reinforces Freeport’s commitment to both training and safety, while allowing the company to monitor the learning of each worker and adapt training as needed.

Submitted Near Miss* reports are reviewed in the weekly Toolbox talks for “lessons learned.” Workers show a high level of trust and engagement in the safety program by consistently submitting Near Miss reports, even reporting their own mistakes so others may learn from them. These reports are also used to catch someone doing safety RIGHT—a way of giving co-workers recognition.

“When you see a workforce as diverse as ours working together, you can see the benefit of having safety as a shared core value.”

* To see examples of Freeport’s On-the-Job Training and Near Miss templates visit

Safe seasonal employees: Long-term onboarding for short-term employees

When Sandel Foods in Chilliwack needs to supplement their 110-employee workforce with seasonal and temporary workers, they make sure these workers play an important role in their safe work practices. When seasonal and temporary employees transition to permanent positions, they have already started on a safety journey.

In 2016, the company had a serious workplace incident involving a temporary worker. Sandy Rowe, Sandel’s Human Resources Manager, says,

“That incident made us look at our whole program—how we hired workers, how we oriented and trained them, and how we documented our programs.”

“We constantly emphasize that the focus is first on worker safety, then food safety for our customers, and then on production. Our focus is on continuous improvement which can only happen when workers, lead hands, supervisors, managers, and executive all understand and are committed to their role in creating a safe work environment.”

Sandel has significantly reduced the number of temporary workers it uses, and has procedures to ensure temporary workers only perform specific tasks assigned to them.

Sandel hires a small number of seasonal workers between April and December each year to help during the busier baking season. Frequently, these workers become part of the regular workforce when the season ends in December.

Safety reps stand out by wearing blue hairnets

Safety reps stand out by wearing blue hairnets

Seasonal workers, who make up only 10% of regular staff, must go through the same health and safety training as workers hired for full-time positions. They are first given a 1.5-hour safety overview before going to the production floor where a supervisor or a lead hand will demonstrate how to safely use machinery.

Seasonal workers then are matched with a worker who mentors them. Only after a supervisor has observed each worker and deemed them competent, are they allowed to work independently.

To emphasize the availability of safety support, in places where all workers wear hair nets, safety representatives wear a blue net. This gives production workers a quick way to recognize who to approach first when there is a safety concern.

Sandel’s approach to safety is working. The number of first aid reports from January to September 2018 dropped by 50% over the same timeframe in 2017. Sandel has had Occupational Standard of Excellence (OSSE) Certification through the Alliance since 2013.

“Having completed the OSSE Auditor Course through the Alliance, Sandel is able to complete the necessary internal audits, and looks forward to the external audit coming in 2019”, says Sandy.

“Following the standards set out in OSSE and working with employees, we strive to send everyone home safely every day.”

Looking for ways to make PPE training more engaging and memorable?

The Alliance PPE Awareness poster series is a fun way to remind workers to wear their Personal Protective Equipment, while providing a positive, interactive learning opportunity.

  • Place these posters in different functional areas of your facility
  • Gather your workers around each poster and discuss any potential hazards specific to that area
  • With a highlighter or marker, have workers take turns circling the icons for the PPE required in that area

Download the entire PPE series!

PPE Awareness Poster Series

Safety Tips for new employee safety orientation

    In the first month of a new job, your newest workers are at more than three times the risk of a lost-time injury compared to longer-term workers(1). Yet only one in five Canadian workers receive safety training in their first year of employment. Building safety into your new employee orientation establishes good work habits up front, and protects your newest workers.
    Too often, employers assume that an experienced employee can do a new job without a full safety orientation. If you are counting on an employee’s experience and common sense to protect them, be careful. In fact, older employees in new roles are statistically at even greater risk than inexperienced, young workers. Even experienced workers need a thorough review of safety hazards, personal protection equipment, and other safety factors for a new job.
    Keep in mind that new employees have different learning styles2 and come to the job with different levels of background knowledge. Allow enough time to ensure that new workers understand the health and safety hazards in their job, how to protect themselves—and how their actions can affect the safety of others around them. Build in checks to ensure that employees understand and remember the information they need.

FREE Self-Paced Online Employee Safety Orientation Training

New Employee Training Statistics















1 Institute for Work and Health.

2 Linked In Learning. 2018 Workplace Learning Report: The Rise and Responsibility of Talent Development in the New Labor Market

Opening Doors: Delivering workplace safety to young workers

Community Skills CentreThe Express to Success Program provides potential workers with safety and work skills, and employers with motivated employees. This innovative program provides essential training for unemployed youth and adults ages 15-30, and the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (the Alliance) is a part of the program’s success.

Express to Success accepts 10 applicants who are unemployed, legally eligible to work in Canada, not receiving Employment Insurance, and not full-time students, and helps them gain sustainable employment.

For two days during the six-week, paid-instruction course, the Alliance delivers critical workplace safety information. The Alliance training focuses on three basic worker rights: the right to know, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to participate. The training includes real-world examples and hands-on equipment demonstrations. Participants also learn how to use health and safety equipment and the importance of personal protective equipment.

According to Eileen Roffel, the Facilitator/Job Coach from the Mission Community Skills Centre Society, the program provider: “Many of the employers we need to access to provide our participants with work experience are members of the Alliance. It was natural to use the Alliance team’s expertise to demonstrate the day-to-day operation of the plant and to deliver relevant materials relating to health and safety.”

Using job coaching, mentoring, and employment counseling, participants learn basic skills in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and social media. They prepare a cover letter and resume, and are matched with an employer to receive eight weeks of work experience, primarily in the manufacturing and food and beverage processing industries.

Eileen states that:

“While many young people adapt naturally to the stresses of participating in the general workforce, others need extra help gaining these skills.”

“Those with anxiety, fear, [negative] lifestyle habits, or self-management issues need extra time and help to become confident in their ability to contribute positively to a workplace and therefore themselves. This is where we can make a difference.”

Express to Success is effective. Since January 2018, 30 participants have graduated the program: nine are employed in manufacturing, six in food processing, five in food services, four in other jobs, three have returned to school, and three are still looking for a job.

For more information on the Express to Success program or to discuss partnering to find employable workers for your company, contact the Community Skill Centre: 604.427.1991 |

Legalized cannabis: 3 key steps toward preventing workplace marijuana and impairment issues

Myth: With legalization, there is nothing an organization can do to ensure worker safety around cannabis.

Fact: By focusing on impairment, your company policies can set limits on the use of medical and recreational marijuana in the workplace.

How to move your organization forward:

1.       Update your Impairment Policy / Procedures

If you do not have an Impairment policy in place, you need one.  If you already have one, you need to make sure it is up to date and current reflecting the changes to legalization of recreational cannabis.  Without an up-to-date policy and associated procedures, you can’t enforce the rules you don’t have in place. That omission could place you in a position of potential costly legal issues.

2.       Train your Supervisors & Employees

With an updated policy in place, ensure you train your staff. It is important that they are educated on employee and employer rights and responsibilities, what is acceptable and what is not, as well as the company’s duty to accommodate and impairment awareness.  It is important, especially for you and your senior leaders, to know about both medical vs recreational marijuana, THC vs CBD, effects on the body, new laws and impairment related to cannabis use. Get informed.

3.       Incorporate a Prevention & Awareness Campaign

Now that you have updated your policies and procedures and initiated a training program, the next step is to activate a Prevention & Awareness campaign so that you can remind your employees the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. This also allows you to emphasize the fact that being Fit For Duty / Fit To Work is expected and required every single day.

Need help?

Check out our safety training programs or contact us directly.

Creating Safer Workplaces: Innovative Products to keep Workers Safe

Personal protective equipment can be purchased from thousands of retailers online, but a careful health and safety team makes sure that the PPE used on the shop floor meet the rigorous Canadian standards. The advice you get from your safety retailer, particularly when looking for specialized equipment, can be just as valuable as getting the right gear.

With a history of providing innovative safety products going back to 1889, and a strong relationship with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, Acklands- Grainger continues to be a leader in the Canadian market.

The Alliance and Acklands-Grainger have been working together since the Alliance was formed in 2007. Acklands-Grainger has been a strong supporter and sponsor of the BC Safety Charter since 2012 and has worked closely with the Alliance on other safety initiatives across BC.

“We see a 100% alignment with Acklands-Grainger and the Alliance in our commitment to keep people safe at work. It’s a mission of both organizations,” says Ken Chamberlin, VP Commercial Sales for Acklands-Grainger.

“We strive to go beyond products. We have the breadth and depth of experience both in the manufacturing industry and in the Canadian regulatory sector to become a partner with clients in their safety needs. This is unprecedented in the Canadian marketplace ”

In addition to its work with BC’s manufacturing clients, Acklands-Grainger has thousands of customers in every Canadian industry, including manufacturing, greenhouse operations, diamond mining, wineries, and food processing.

To support customers, no matter what their industry, Acklands-Grainger has a national team of safety specialists made up of long-time employees with a strong background in safety and industry. These safety specialists are often factory-trained in the specific products they advise on and get hands-on knowledge of how each device works so they can give customers the most up-to-date information and quickly troubleshoot problems.

Acklands-Grainger’s robust online platform allows clients to work with their rep to create specialized catalogues for their company providing digital adherence to specific safety programs. For example, a company can choose to only list PPE that is approved for purchase. This eliminates employees accidentally choosing incorrect or non-compliant products.

To make sure the best products make it to market, Acklands-Grainger takes an active role working with major vendors including 3M, Honeywell, Bob Dale, and Kimberly Clark. “We are one of their biggest distributor and give them insight into the Canadian market and customer. It allows us to bring better products that meet our customers’ needs,” says Ken.

Keeping up with industry: Defining Certification and Accreditation for OHS Professionals

Some skills that an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals need are indisputable – technical knowledge, a knack for working with diverse teams, and a strong commitment to safety. Together with the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and members like you, the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is working to define the skills and knowledge that an effective OHS professional must have.

The Alliance has been the lead organization for a project to define the core competencies and capabilities that occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals require to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry in BC. The resulting framework will inform the development of effective training and relevant career-path information for career seekers and employers.

Daneen Skilling, Chair of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Project Steering Committee says,

“The safety professional of the future must be able to manage both the technical day-to-day safety issues and also lead industry and corporate cultural attitudes to health and safety. ”

The first three phases of the multi-year project, Sector Engagement, the gathering of Labour Market Information, and Strategy Development have been completed. Funding was provided through the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and administered by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The Alliance, along with the Steering Committee, is looking forward to the implementation phase, pending approval from the Ministry.

“During the next phase,” says Daneen, “we will establish three advisory bodies to develop a competency and capability framework; develop the accreditation process which includes education and training standards; and, design the certification process. We will also develop a communication strategy to make sure the OHS profession’s certification program for manufacturing is broadly known.”

The Project Team identified two parallel diversities. The first is the evolving nature of manufacturing, with constant introduction of new products and technology. The second is a workforce which is going through both a generational and cultural change. These changes impact how OHS professionals need to be taught. As the Sector Labour Market Partnership project develops, a broad variety of stakeholders including industry partners, regulators, educators and OHS professionals will be consulted. This will ensure that core competencies and the training is relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

“We need to be as innovative in how we train our OHS professionals as we are in our industries. They must have good generalist training and then add on a defined set of core competencies and capabilities to create a manufacturing certification. Additionally, they must learn how to be great communicators and change leaders to both a corporate management team and the shop floor. Increased analytical skills will help them recognize and minimize new risks or hazards that are part of technological upgrades. All this must be done within the framework of the business need for profitability and production.”

To learn more about the Sector Labour Market Partnership project, visit