Angus Reid workplace poll: Health, safety, and mental well-being important to job seekers

Ninety-four per cent of Canadians currently employed say that workplace health, safety and mental well-being is very important or somewhat 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, the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (the 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 the Alliance CEO Lisa McGuire.

“We know that a safe and healthy workplace is what job-seekers are looking for. 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 Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) certification — the Certificate of Recognition (CoR) program for manufacturers. 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 frame health and safety as a key value within the organization.

Manufacturing is an important driver in the BC 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 $230 million in premiums.



Angus Reid Poll of 1000 working Canadians on Employee Perception of Workplace Health & Safety | February, 2019

  • According to the Angus Reid survey, slightly more women than men (97% compared to 91%) said that workplace health and safety was very important or somewhat important.
  • Among young people aged 18-34, 96% of those responding said it was very important or somewhat important compared to 93% of those aged 35+.
  • Meanwhile, just 77% of working Canadians said that decisions made in their workplace consider employee health, safety and well-being all the time or some of the time, according

Angus Reid Poll Results

Safety and sustainable staffing

by Lisa McGuire

A shared critical business concern is affecting virtually every manufacturer in the province today: the problem of attracting and retaining staff.

At last month’s BC Safety Charter Round Table, recruitment and retention was the topic of discussion with company executives. It emerged again as a shared concern of members at our Annual General Meeting in May—not surprising, given record low unemployment and a continued Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) forecast of labour scarcity 1. According to a recent study, the BDC says, “We do not expect labour shortages to get better for at least a decade.”

In this issue, we share the results of an Angus Reid survey on the importance of workplace safety in Canadian employees’ decisions on where to work, and insights from Deloitte on the specific business culture and process keys to attracting and retaining millennial employees.

We explore innovative solutions Alliance and BC Safety Charter members are employing and look at how they are leveraging health and safety programs to attract, engage, and retain staff.

We visit the newly OSSE-certified Viking Air on Vancouver Island, where a culture of “looking out for employees” starts with an innovative paid training program and continues with a commitment to world-class service, production, and safety.

We see how Richmond’s Goodwin Industrial Electric weaves care for workers’ health and safety into a carefully nurtured family culture and mentorship program. Also in this issue, we recognize the nominees and winners of the Pinnacle Awards, new awards in Joint Health and Safety Excellence and Safety Innovation, and the prestigious Ben Hume Leadership Award.

Through research and anecdotal evidence, the narrative in these pages begins to connect the dots between a company’s commitment to worker safety and well-being and the engagement and loyalty of its workers. In a tight hiring market and limited talent pool, we see opportunity. We invite you to allow us to support you in shaping a business culture that attracts talent and builds long-term trust and loyalty with team members.

1 Business Development Bank of Canada– Labour Shortage: Here to Stay, September 2018–

Introducing the OSSE Continual Improvement Program Webinar Series

OSSE certified? The OSSE Continual Improvement Program Webinar Series provides continuing education to help you keep improving your safety management system, address emerging risks, and stay current with changes affecting OSSE certification. Speakers include specialized advisors, external auditors, and leaders in the field of OHS, who will guide you and provide resources beyond the basics.

Learn more:

Viking Air invests in their workers: Viking Academy helps new hires’ careers take-off

The largest aerospace manufacturing facility on Vancouver Island, Viking Air has had to be creative when it comes to recruiting. Ten years ago, they introduced the Viking Academy, an eight-week, paid training program that accepts people at an entry level and prepares them for a career in aerospace. Designed to teach basic aerostructure assembly skills, the Academy curriculum provides both theoretical instruction in the classroom and practical instruction in Viking’s training workshop.

Successful graduates of Viking Academy become full-time employees of Viking and begin a rewarding career, learning to assemble hundreds of different aerostructures such as cockpits, wings, and cowlings.

“They can double their entry-level salaries in three years,” said Robin Ambrose, Director of People and Wellness at Viking.

Investing in training and education before people join as staff can be a business risk, but Ambrose noted, “It’s a necessary risk because the greater risk is not meeting customer objectives by not having enough people to do the work. It’s a risk that we have to take, and the rate of retention is fairly good coming out of the program.”

Before they are accepted, applicants complete an aptitude test looking for manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude, a practical test, plus an interview. “Attitude is always the most important,” said Ambrose.

The graduates go on to train with a mentor. The learning continues on the shop floor until they’re skilled enough to work independently, which is normally about a year.

Part of the retention success is tied to the organization’s emphasis on safety and employee wellbeing.

To hire and retain people, you have to have a positive safety record and a good reputation,” noted Jeff Hayes, Viking’s Occupational Health and Safety Manager. “A great reputation in the region is a competitive advantage for Viking Air.”

“With a shortage of labour, you simply can’t afford to hire people, train them, and then have them leave,” Hayes said—”so if you don’t have strong training and safety programs, you just won’t be able to get the work done.”

Viking Air first got involved with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance two years ago. “The idea was to improve our safety management system. It’s incredibly important to us to strive to be a world-class organization, and this was a natural progression to get there,” Hayes said.

“The Alliance helped us by providing that standard and the support we needed in setting goals, conducting audits and gap analysis, everything we needed to get to the finish line.”

“For me, safety is part of the big picture,” said Todd Sjerven, Plant Manager at Viking, who has been with the company for 31 years. “Viking is always looking out for its employees, not just from a health and safety perspective, but from a personal perspective, from a career growth perspective. It’s one of the factors why certainly I and many, many others want to be here.” In fact, two current Production Managers were graduates of the Viking Academy 10 years ago.

“We narrowed down the demographic of who we’re looking for. Initially we thought “mid-career change is our most successful graduate because they’ve been in the workforce and really appreciate what Viking has to offer—and they really have the commitment to make. We are looking for people with general mechanical aptitude and a passion or interest in working with airplanes. That’s the perfect combination,” said Ambrose.

The company is also actively trying to recruit more women into the program. “It’s great work for women. We have a clean facility, the parts are light weight, and the job is detail-oriented in nature,” said Ambrose. “Diversity of the workforce is healthy. We are knocking down the gender roles that have traditionally been in aerospace, and we want to be a leader.”

ABOUT VIKING AIR Viking is the Canadian-based, global leader in utility aircraft services and manufacturer of Series 400 Twin Otter. Viking is the Original Type Certificate holder for all out-of-production de Havilland aircraft (DHC-1 through DHC-7) and the Canadair Aerial Firefighter fleet (CL-215, CL-215T, and CL-415). Viking provides exclusive spare parts manufacturing and product support for these global fleets and continues the proud legacy of producing and supporting these exceptional Canadian aircraft. At a luncheon this month following the 2019 Annual General Meeting in Victoria, members of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and its board of directors joined 30 provincial MLAs to celebrate success and discuss priorities for improving health and safety in the manufacturing sector.

Safety at the Capitol: Alliance AGM Recap

Following the Annual General Meeting in May, Minister of Labour Harry Bains spoke at a luncheon for members and MLAs. Repeating his vision of making BC the safest place to live and work in Canada, the Minister shared the story of a near-miss incident that inspired his personal passion for workplace safety and congratulated the Alliance and its members for their achievements in reducing injury rates.

CEO Lisa McGuire highlighted the impact of Alliance services, pointing out that companies using Alliance services for two years improved safety performance at three times the rate of the sector overall. In human terms, she noted, over the past decade, that has enabled 3,624 workers to go home safe to their families due to injuries avoided—and helped members avoid $36.1 million in premiums since 2012.

At the luncheon, we premiered the 2018 Year in Review video, sharing the industry perspectives of three member companies on the importance of health and safety programs and certification in their organizations and the support of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance.

Watch the video: 2018 Year in Review

A night to remember 2019 Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala

On April 24, the Alliance hosted the 2019 Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala at the Terminal City Club in Vancouver. More than 130 executives, safety leaders, and teams from 30 BC manufacturers and food processors attended. The keynote was delivered by Steve Rio, CEO of Briteweb and Nature of Work.

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

Learn more about the Safety Pinnacle Awards Here:


New awards in safety excellence and innovation
This year for the first time, new awards recognized a Joint Health & Safety team and worker representative for safety excellence, and safety innovators in four categories:

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 inclusive approach to safety.

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.

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, and now Alabama, USA.

Innovation in Safety Training: Garaventa Lift, for introducing multiple safety training programs to the company with the help of the Alliance and other safety agencies; and Pinnacle Renewable Energy, whose most successful innovation in training has been their Safety Champion program. 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, and 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 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.

Watch the Gala Video Here 

2019 Ben Hume Leadership Award recipient: Q & A with Chris Inkster

At the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala each year, the Ben Hume Award recognizes a BC Safety Charter member who demonstrates exemplary leadership in building and maintaining the culture of safety in their organization.

This year’s award went to Chris Inkster, president of Freeport Industries in West Kelowna. We talked with Chris to learn about the progression of safety at his company.

Q What is your personal philosophy on safety?
A In business, there are lots of obstacles. The last thing you need to worry about is whether someone on your team gets to go home to their family at the end of the day. We’re competitive in nature when it comes to business, but we cannot be competitive when it comes to safety.

Q How did you come to approach safety with such an open perspective?
A We had a major injury in 2015, and we had to be open with our crews because if we weren’t, we risked losing everything. We risked losing credibility with the person who got injured and his family, so we had to lay it all on the table—and that means getting in front of the person who was injured, getting in front of their mom.

Q How did you first get involved with the Alliance?
A We started the safety journey in 2014, and we aligned ourselves with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance. We really felt comfortable with the Alliance because of the robustness of their safety and audit programs.

Q Where do you see your company going in terms of safety in the future?
A We have to keep it up. We have to make sure our commitment is unwavering, and good things will happen as a result. We have to believe that all accidents are preventable, and we have to do everything we can to make sure the people who work at Freeport go home to their families at the end of the day. My goal is to use clear and honest communication to have the safest company in our industry. The ultimate goal is to have BC be the safest place in Canada to work, and I want to be a part of that.

Watch the Ben Hume Award video interviews:

ABOUT FREEPORT INDUSTRIES Freeport is a custom manufacturer of modular structures for industrial, residential, and institutional use that employs 80–90 people. Freeport was part of the first safety pooling system (SPS) group, and under Inkster’s leadership, successfully challenged the OSSE audit after only 14 months.

Celebrating Safety Excellence