Leaders in Aerospace Safety: AITCA on the Journey to OSSE/COR Certification

by Gladys Johnsen – Advanced Integration Technology Canada (AITCA), is the world’s largest provider of automation, factory integration and tooling solutions dedicated to the global aerospace, defence, and space launch vehicle industries. It has over 200,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space in its Langley, BC facility and employs 125 highly-skilled workers.

Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager Human Resources, shares responsibility for the management of AITCA’s health and safety management system with all managers and employees. Debbie says, “From the factory floor through management we understand we each have a role to play.”

In 2016 there was an emphasis on enhancing the AITCA safety management system that included;

    • A glove trial to drive down cuts
    • 6S initiatives for improved housekeeping
    • Five whys for all first aid incidents
    • The addition of safety prescription glasses to the group benefits program

Overall, AITCA experienced a significant reduction in claims costs and incident and lost time rates over the last three years.

One recent safety initiative for AITCA was an interest in understanding what it took to fully comply with WorkSafeBC’s regulations for welding fumes. With new legislation on the horizon for weld fume extraction and control, AITCA reached out to the experts.

The AITCA fabrication shop is an open, well ventilated space where respirators were optional. AITCA engaged the services of a consultant with years of experience in welding environments. With his assistance, education of both management and workers on current welding fume regulations was initiated. Further, an appreciation of WorkSafeBC targets both immediate and long term was explored.

All workers were immediately fit-tested and are now diligently wearing respirators. Education goes a long way in gaining acceptance from the employees as to why certain safety protocols are put into place.

With the assistance of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, AITCA is working towards receiving OSSE (Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence) certification, a comprehensive health and safety management system.

According to Debbie South-Mitchell, Manager, HR at AITCA,

The primary benefit for AITCA is the logical step-by-step approach in having a complete and current safety management system. After the GAP analysis was completed, we knew exactly
what needed to be done, and regular meetings with our advisor keep us on track.

Achieving OSSE certification will set in place a plan for the continuing safety of all employees and people who visit AITCA.

Injury rates in BC Aerospace compared to Injury rates in all of BC Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC works with multiple Classification Units (CUs) related to aviation, including 712027 (Manufacture, or Manufacture and Installation of Structural Metal Products) and 712001 (Aircraft, Automobile or Truck Assembly).

The injury rate, a calculation of injuries per 100 workers, for both CUs has seen an improvement outpacing the provincial average over the past four years.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Make It Safe, the Quarterly Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter for BC Manufacturers