Thunder Bay-area forest products firms learn about health and safety developments
On Thursday, November 9, Workplace Safety North (WSN) hosted the second annual Northern Pulp, Paper, and Sawmill Safety Forum at the Victoria Inn in Thunder Bay.
Pulp, paper and sawmill staff, including health and safety managers and Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) members, arrived from Dryden, Terrace Bay, Ignace, Kapuskasing, and the Thunder Bay region to discuss a variety of issues, including industry injury trends, the importance of a strong safety culture, emergency preparedness planning, mental well-being in the workplace, and key health and safety issues identified by the Ministry of Labour (MOL).
Injury trends and key areas of concern in the paper, printing, and sawmill sectors were presented by Tom Welton, WSN Industrial Director, who noted workplace health and safety programs available to address the top three hazards in pulp, paper and sawmill industry: musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), contact with objects or equipment, and falls. Information on leading practices for mill yard traffic management plans was also shared in the hopes of reducing sever injuries and fatalities caused when workers and pedestrians are hit by vehicles and mobile equipment at the workplace.
Researching and understanding company safety culture was discussed by Cindy Schiewek, WSN Culture, Learning, Development and Audit Specialist. The elements of an ideal health and safety culture were outlined, as well as a new Climate Assessment and Audit Tool (CAAT) that is predictive in nature regarding injury rates at a firm. It measures the maturity of a firm’s overall health and safety – both its culture and its systems. WSN Community Engagement Specialist, Angele Poitras, also discussed mental health in the workplace, and the importance of self-care.
Ministry of Labour's Doug Cettina, Northern Region Industrial Program Coordinator, outlined the government’s role, and discussed occupational health and safety issues and concerns specific to the northern Ontario forest products sector.
When work is conducted in confined spaces or at heights, it’s important to have an effective emergency rescue plan in place, according to Tim Ebbinghaus, Chief Emergency Services Officer with Ontario Mine Rescue. Ebbinghaus led the discussion, and noted Ontario Mine Rescue serves both the mining and forest product sectors – and that both are typically demanding and challenging northern Ontario work environments.
Participants also shared best practices, discussed various health and safety topics, and networked with industry peers. Lance McKillop, Pulp Machine Day Crew Leader at Resolute Forest Products, was recognized by Paul Andre, WSN Acting President and CEO for his dedication as a WSN volunteer board member. The group made plans to hold another safety forum next year.