Safe seasonal employees: Long-term onboarding for short-term employees

When Sandel Foods in Chilliwack needs to supplement their 110-employee workforce with seasonal and temporary workers, they make sure these workers play an important role in their safe work practices. When seasonal and temporary employees transition to permanent positions, they have already started on a safety journey.

In 2016, the company had a serious workplace incident involving a temporary worker. Sandy Rowe, Sandel’s Human Resources Manager, says,

“That incident made us look at our whole program—how we hired workers, how we oriented and trained them, and how we documented our programs.”

“We constantly emphasize that the focus is first on worker safety, then food safety for our customers, and then on production. Our focus is on continuous improvement which can only happen when workers, lead hands, supervisors, managers, and executive all understand and are committed to their role in creating a safe work environment.”

Sandel has significantly reduced the number of temporary workers it uses, and has procedures to ensure temporary workers only perform specific tasks assigned to them.

Sandel hires a small number of seasonal workers between April and December each year to help during the busier baking season. Frequently, these workers become part of the regular workforce when the season ends in December.

Safety reps stand out by wearing blue hairnets

Safety reps stand out by wearing blue hairnets

Seasonal workers, who make up only 10% of regular staff, must go through the same health and safety training as workers hired for full-time positions. They are first given a 1.5-hour safety overview before going to the production floor where a supervisor or a lead hand will demonstrate how to safely use machinery.

Seasonal workers then are matched with a worker who mentors them. Only after a supervisor has observed each worker and deemed them competent, are they allowed to work independently.

To emphasize the availability of safety support, in places where all workers wear hair nets, safety representatives wear a blue net. This gives production workers a quick way to recognize who to approach first when there is a safety concern.

Sandel’s approach to safety is working. The number of first aid reports from January to September 2018 dropped by 50% over the same timeframe in 2017. Sandel has had Occupational Standard of Excellence (OSSE) Certification through the Alliance since 2013.

“Having completed the OSSE Auditor Course through the Alliance, Sandel is able to complete the necessary internal audits, and looks forward to the external audit coming in 2019”, says Sandy.

“Following the standards set out in OSSE and working with employees, we strive to send everyone home safely every day.”