Twenty years ago, you walked into the welding shop, and the guy welding lifts up his helmet and has his cigarette hanging out of his mouth, says Jamie Higginson, Operations Manager for TYCROP Trailers. Today, TYCROP’s comprehensive safety program and ongoing investment into safety means a walk through the welding shop looks very different. It’s all about wearing respirators and air filtration systems. The investment from our company in safety is for our people, and they’re our most valuable asset, Higginson notes.
TYCROP Manufacturing Ltd. first began in 1978, and initially their business was agricultural equipment. They then moved into building transport trailers, and oilfield equipment through their brands TYCROP Trailers and Propell. The company has grown significantly over the past 40 years, and new areas of work, new facilities and new machinery brought elements of risk the company had to learn to mitigate.
An email or a phone call [to the Alliance] kind of saves my brain sometimes.
“I think one of the challenges operationally with that amount of growth that quick was to actually make sure we’re being diligent,” said Jon Nessel, Operations Manager for Propell. He has been with the company since 1995.
The OSSE certification process was started in 2012 and continued to grow as new initiatives were brought forward and implemented by both internal directors and the team at Manufacturing Safety Alliance. Today, the safety program is led by Jen Christensen, HR/OHS Supervisor. She said it has been a big learning curve over the years. The team has leaned on resources from organizations like the Manufacturing Safety Alliance and WorkSafeBC to determine which areas needed extra attention.
TYCROP had another noise assessment done after the work environment at one of their work sites changed, and their team wondered whether hearing protection was still necessary since the site was quieter than before. Alliance Occupational Hygienist Jasmine Kalsi came in to assess the situation. She provided information and hearing maps, and in the end determined that earplugs were in fact still necessary because even though the ambient noise level was lower, when there was an impact—a strike of metal on metal for example, the noise could get to a damaging level quite quickly. TYCROP maintained their policy regarding mandatory hearing protection.
When the company needs a second opinion or extra resources, “an email or a phone call [to the Alliance] kind of saves my brain sometimes,” said Christensen.
One new challenge that came with expanding into other areas of work was the introduction of the Sand Trailer which was classified as a confined space.
The team at TYCROP recognized the potential danger in building such a product and approached the Manufacturing Safety Alliance to help implement confined space safety measures. “When you’re building a four-sided trailer with a big open roof, that is not considered confined space, but when you’re building what looks like a space-age grain tanker, that’s very much confined space when you have to go in and weld inside,” said Christensen. She explained how Sheldon McKee, the Alliance confined space specialist, met with the engineers, went through all the drawings with them, walked around and talked with management and employees.
“The guys kind of look out for each other, and they want to make sure everyone’s going home at the end of the night,” says Nessel. That is a value that extends through all levels of the company and has become a tagline for the Propell brand: “Perform, Protect, Propell,” because as Christensen put it, “Safety’s not an island.” At all TYCROP facilities, it’s become a key part of the culture.
Touring TYCROP’s Rosedale and Sardis facilities brings home how strong the communication is amongst their team.