WorkSafeBC’s High Risk Strategy in Manufacturing continues through 2017

by Gladys Johnsen – WorkSafeBC’s prevention officers’ activities in the manufacturing industry are guided primarily by the High Risk Strategy which identifies sectors and sub sectors that make a significant contribution to the serious injury rate. The Strategy focuses prevention initiatives on identified areas of high risk in order to apply resources and effort where they will be most effective.

Manufacturing has a relatively high serious injury rate. For 2015, the last year where the injury rate has been finalized, the serious injury rate in manufacturing was 0.5 per 100 workers while the serious injury rate for all sectors was 0.3 per 100 workers.

Barry Nakahara, Manager, Prevention Field Services for the Prince George and Terrace Regions said: As with 2016, in 2017 for manufacturing there will be continued concentration on safeguarding, lock out and combustible dust. Injuries related to safeguarding and lock out have the greatest impact on the rate.

While safeguarding and lock out related injuries combine to impact the serious injury rate, combustible dust is a significant risk in many manufacturing sectors. The number of incidents is small; but when fire or explosion occurs the result can be devastating.

Anecdotally, Barry does see indications that employer awareness and understanding of these issues is steadily improving. Feedback from prevention field officers and emerging industry initiated projects such as the shake and shingle guarding pilot or the sawmill planer project show that the industry is focusing on prevention.

In the past couple of years officers have engaged with a number of manufacturing employers to help them develop and implement better health and safety policies and procedures. Some of these have progressed beyond compliance to focus on prevention with clear and defined plans. Consequently, the officers will, in 2017, move to assist others who need to update their plans.

The WorkSafeBC High Risk Strategy for manufacturing is available for review at worksafebc.com. It shows ongoing initiatives as well as the Manufacturing Strategy Inspection Guide indicating relevant Regulatory and Targeted Hazards Sections.