OHS from the Owner-Operator / Senior Manager’s Position

by Gladys Johnsen – Greg Anderson has been involved with Mearl’s Machine Works in Kelowna for close to 24 years as a customer, employee and partner. Mearls’ 35 employees provide shop and field repair services, production machining and equipment sales to all markets. Greg’s commitment to health and safety began with a plan to meet the regulations for working in confined spaces. Once in place, it became apparent a program covering the entire company was required.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Greg, “Mearl’s diverse sectors means addressing most sections of the regulation. Our health and safety record was already good, so employees wondered why we needed to start documenting everything.”

Greg and his partners had to learn the relevant parts of the regulation and incorporate them to have minimal impact on operations, while ensuring policies and programs were clear and consistent.

Greg sees advantages to having health and safety as part of an owner-operator’s role: direct contact with workers combined with the ability to act quickly and decisively on recommendations, with few structural hurdles.

I worked countless hours on this and it started to impact my work, home life and health.

Then one day the Alliance came knocking. The idea of a not-for-profit, industry-funded health and safety organization “appealed to me” explains Greg.

The Alliance’s Safety Program Support (SPS) provides professional expertise three days per month to assist with the development of a comprehensive OHS program.

So my partners and I agreed to approve Mearl’s becoming part of SPS. We are not large enough to support a dedicated safety officer; but this program is a clear path to creating a plan we can follow.

Greg’s health and safety advice to other owner operators of small and medium companies:

“It’s important. Don’t give up and don’t think you have to do it alone. Do it properly by learning as much as you can and get help by calling in a professional.”