New partnership with Sensitivity Training Canada will benefit Alliance members

Employees are a company’s most valuable resource. Fostering good interpersonal relationships benefits everyone who works within an organization.

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is pleased to announce our new partnership with Sensitivity Training Canada – a leading national provider of training and services which help make companies respectful through workplace wellness and sensitivity training. The mission of Sensitivity Training Canada is to help companies create workplaces where people can bring their whole self, do their best work, and live their dreams.

Sensitivity training helps employees to become more accepting of diversity in the workplace and supports understanding and respect between workers. School yard bullies grow up and sometimes bring those same behaviors to work. Sensitivity training can help all employees understand what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate conduct towards others in the workplace.
Alliance members will benefit from:

  • 11 new courses. These courses are available as half-day workshops, 2-hour seminars, in-person or virtual training and include:
    • Sensitivity training for workplace restoration
    • Respect in the workplace
    • Cultural sensitivity training for diversity
    • Workplace anti-bullying and anti-harassment
    • Sensitivity training for employees
    • Sensitivity training for middle managers
    • Sensitivity training for executives
    • Resilience in the workplace
    • Anger management
    • Mental health awareness
    • Workplace anti-sexual harassment
  • Anti-bullying and anti-harassment policy and program development services
  • 8% off the regular cost of sensitivity and psychological safety training. An additional 2% residual goes to support the development of new Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC programs.

Ten percent of all proceeds from Sensitivity Training Canada policy and program development services go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada to support sick kids in your local community.

Sensitivity training is an important tool for companies to help employees work successfully with colleagues from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. We are thrilled to add this training to the catalogue of health and safety education courses available to Alliance members.

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:

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:

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.  | 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 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.



Chris Back
Director, OHS Consultation & Education Services

6951 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC

3 safety tips: Ergonomics best practices for manufacturing

Ergonomics goes beyond stretching programs or choosing the right chair.  It is an important strategic consideration. In the manufacturing sector, employees are especially vulnerable to developing musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) due to several factors specific to their occupations. Risk factors such as heavy lifting, bending, awkward postures, reaching overhead, pushing or pulling heavy loads, and repetitive tasks may increase the chance of injury on the job. To improve ergonomics in manufacturing facilities, here are three strategies to consider:

  1. Proactive approach. Control the risk before injury happens. Taking a proactive approach that includes ergonomics as a strategy not only accommodates all human and system requirements, it also influences the design of your production floor and workstations to optimize worker wellbeing and improve overall systems performance and productivity.
  2. Participatory approach. Always involve employees who are specialists in a particular job to get their feedback on any design or process change. Training those employees when you make process changes or add new equipment, to raise awareness of the risks, can have a big impact on reducing the likelihood of incidents leading to injuries.
  3. Offer opportunities for change. Spending too much time in one position, either sitting or standing, can lead to potential injury. Height-adjustable workstations can benefit employees by empowering them to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Additionally, including ergonomic equipment and specialized stools that can adjust to support various postures are all great options that enable employees to minimize time in one position. Providing variety/alteration in the tasks can also reduce repetition and stress-related injuries.

Meet our Ergonomics Specialist

Era Poddar has a Ph.D. in Industrial Ergonomics from the National Institute of Occupational Health, India, and was a scholar of Indian Council of Medical Research. She holds an International General Certification in Occupational Safety and Health. With 18 years’ consulting, teaching, and research experience, she is an international presenter and author on ergonomics and human factors.

>> Schedule an ergonomics assessment.

1.604.795.9595 |

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 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.”