New growth for Ontario forest products industry

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Timing is right for Ontario mills to update health and safety training for Bill 160 compliance

After a decade-long slump, the Canadian forest industry is coming back to life thanks in part to a steady recovery in the U.S. housing market and the developing markets of China and Asia.

Mill worker and safety consultant standing in front of loaderOntario is well positioned as a leading global forest jurisdiction, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Having embraced the emerging bio-economy and green technologies, Ontario’s forestry sector is becoming the source for cutting-edge products and services like engineered wood for buildings, smart paper, bio-plastics and new green energy solutions, all of which are experiencing increased global demand, says the Ministry. 

“This industry resurgence is the perfect time for Ontario mills to plan, organize, and update their health and safety training,” says Candys Ballanger-Michaud, CEO of Workplace Safety North, “Especially since enforcement of Bill 160 regarding mandatory safety awareness training is expected in 2014. 

“WSN has a long and proud history of serving the health and safety training needs of the Ontario forestry sector dating back 100 years through our legacy organizations – Ontario Forestry Safe Workplace Association and the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Association,” says Ballanger-Michaud. “Investing in safety gives Ontario mills a competitive edge – after all, a strong safety culture typically reflects overall workplace health and productivity.” 

With the resurgence of the forest products industry and new and reopened mills in Ontario, WSN is promoting a special occupational health and safety package that includes an on-site pre-operation start-up checklist, up-to-date health and safety training for supervisors and workers, as well as assistance with the Safe Workplace Ontario program which helps companies maintain their own safety audit program. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s forestry sector supports almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs across over 260 Ontario communities.

“Businesses in the forestry rate group with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board are entitled to WSN on-site services and member rates for training courses and e-store purchases, as well as a number of pre-paid consulting services,” says Ballanger-Michaud. 

WSN field consultants and ergonomic health specialists are located across Ontario and offer confidential consultation. With an in-depth understanding of hazards associated with the forestry industry, WSN safety experts can help identify, assess, and control hazards specific to an operation. Businesses are also encouraged to access free online resources at www.workplacesafetynorth.ca.

As one of the world’s largest suppliers of forest products, Canada’s total worldwide exports exceed $26 billion – second only to oil and gas, according to the Forest Products Association of Canada. Employing 250,000 Canadians, the industry forecasts the recruitment of another 60,000 workers by 2020 as an aging workforce heads into retirement.

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