Ontario forestry, pulp and paper health and safety association turns 100
Conference welcome: Tom Welton, Industrial Director at Workplace Safety North, welcomed participants and recognized the contributions of the committee members who organized the event held September 24, 2015, at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay. More than 55 participants gathered for a day of workshops, keynote speakers, trade show, equipment exhibit, and awards banquet hosted by Workplace Safety North – the provincial health and safety association for forestry, mining, paper, printing and converting industries – and the Lakehead Regional Safety Council.
Opening remarks: Candys Ballanger-Michaud, WSN President and CEO, welcomed the group and reviewed a summary of occupational health and safety in the forestry, pulp and paper industries over the last 100 years. The presentation featured a variety of archival photos depicting the evolution of the industry as well as worker health and safety. Ballanger-Michaud also relayed a message from the Minister of Labour, Kevin Flynn, that noted the conference “provides us the opportunity to both reflect on the tremendous culture of health and safety that you and the forestry, pulp and paper industries have helped build over the last century – and to reaffirm our commitment to preventing injuries and keeping the people who work in our province safe.”
Staying in control: Marshall Greensides, corporate health and safety coordinator at Norampac - a division of Cascades, talked about the ‘ABCs of Assessing Risk.’ He presented the analogy that most of us feel safe when we’re in the driver’s seat, and that’s why it’s important not to give up control when it comes to workplace health and safety – whether you’re a worker, supervisor, or CEO. When applying risk assessment methods to real life, you need to answer these basic questions: (1) What are the dangers? (2) What could go wrong and how bad could it be? (3) How can I avoid harm by changing the conditions or my behaviour?
Areas of greatest need: George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Labour, focused on three specific areas: (1) helping small business meet their occupational health and safety requirements by offering programs, safety groups, and free mandatory awareness training; (2) helping vulnerable workers such as younger and older workers as well as new Canadians know and understand their rights regarding workplace health and safety; and (3) addressing the highest hazards, such as falls from heights, motor vehicle incidents, musculoskeletal disorders, and use of machinery.
The Last Text: Ken Mantey, Traffic Staff Sergeant with the Ontario Provincial Police, showed a number of jaw-dropping videos on the dangers of distracted driving, and “The Last Text” was particularly moving. Mantey made it clear that, “if you’re driving and just ‘holding’ a phone – that’s the offence, at stoplights or anywhere. But, if you pull over and put your car in park, it’s OK to use your phone.” In Quebec, it was noted, the vehicle’s engine must also be turned off. Employers also need to show due diligence and ensure they have up-to-date driving abstracts for employees operating company motor vehicles.
Start safety message young: Percy Champagne, an industry advisor at FPInnovations with more than 30 years of experience in the forestry industry, began his talk with his own personal experiences regarding workplace fatalities. “These are traumatic experiences for everyone,” he said. These days, he noted, there is more of a partnership approach to safety. He recalled when the seatbelt law first came into effect and how he had to model the behaviour for his daughters; at first it felt strange, but over time, it became second nature. It’s the same now with bicycle helmets, he said, and these same children will be more accepting of hardhats.
Chris Serratore, WSN Health and Safety Specialist, speaking at the Forestry, Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Centennial Conference.
Professor Reino Pulkki from Lakehead University speaking at the Forestry, Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Centennial Conference.
Awards Banquet hosted by Lakehead Regional Safety Council at the Forestry, Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Centennial Conference.
WSN staff and board members assisting and attending Forestry, Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Centennial Conference.