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.