Make It Safe Okanagan: From Workplace Health & Safety Impacts to SolutionsJean Fong
On Friday, April 21, more than 100 people from across the Interior gathered in Kelowna for Make It Safe Okanagan, our first health and safety conference in the region. Attendees came with backgrounds working at food processors, wineries, breweries, boat manufacturers, pipe manufacturers, and more!
The opening keynote featured a moving presentation by Threads of Life representative, Shawna Harroun. Shawna shared how her husband Tommy’s illness and death affected their family, and how their experience has become a rallying cry for the use of PPE within the plastic manufacturing industry. However, young and new workers are still not in the practice of using proper PPE that could prevent workplace caused illnesses’ like Tommy’s from potentially appearing in their futures.
Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO Lisa McGuire hosted an afternoon industry panel discussion with leaders sharing their thoughts and insights on the evolution of safety culture. The panelists noted that fatalities and injuries are a low benchmark when talking about safety. for Discussions reflected upon the changing demographics of the current workforce and spoke to ways on how to best engage and retain talent, in particular about finding people who align, reinforce, and engage with the cultural messages and values of a company. Panelists included, Stuart McVitty (Chief Operating Officer, Bryton Marine Group/ Kingfisher Boats; Vernon), Gordon Jack (Maintenance and Continuous Improvement Manager, Andrew Peller; Kelowna), Andy McEachern (Senior Vice-president, Peerless Limited; Penticton), and Jeremy Armstrong-Waugh (Regional Safety Manager, Rahr Corporation/Gambrinus Malting; Armstrong).
Peppered between these sessions were packed hands-on practical sessions with experts from WorkSafeBC, MSABC, and UBSafe. One important message shared is that every company is different, and what might work for one may not be scalable to another in another region. However, events like Make It Safe Okanagan help safety and health professionals better understand what tools, resources, technology, and practices exist; enabling leaders to bring new health and safety strategies and learnings to protect their own workers and teams.
This event was made possible with the additional support of Allied Partner TeksMed Services, Marquis Sponsor CapriCMW/Acera, and Safety Sponsor WorkSafeBC.
Next year’s Make It Safe Okanagan will be happening on April 18, 2024.