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 safetyalliancebc.ca/freeport