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WFP Hazard Alert
Click here to view the WFP Hazard Alert.

Click here to view the 2005 Stop The Killing: BC Forest Fatalty Summit video.

WorkSafe BC & You - Assistance with filling out claim forms, reporting unsfae workplaces, and getting a WorkSafe BC Inspector to your worksite.

Click here for your information on your right to refuse unsafe work.

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008

THIS FIRST:

Employees Propel Economic Change
Lakeland Mills Explosion Inquest Resumes
Youtube.com Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

Foundry Worker Ergonomics

EMPLOYEES PROPEL ECONOMIC CHANGE
Poor occupational ergonomics contributes to MSIs, or injuries to the muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues.

By Helen Plischke

Forestry Dale Quipp has more energy these days to spend with his young kids, playing soccer, hockey, and building Lego, unlike days when he would come home sore from handling steel parts in a manufacturing plant.

As a skilled worker for Rimex Supply, Quipp attributes his increased energy levels to significant changes in his daily work processes. And he credits his employer for supporting that change.

It’s improved his job, he says, “with less grunt work.” Now Quipp describes having more quality time with his sons, ages eight and five, and his seven-month-old daughter. “At the end of the day my body is less tired, physically. I can take that little extra time to relax, then go play with my kids.”

Rimex plant manager James Read says the company recognized the need to improve ergonomics within a department of its Agassiz, B.C., plant, so it recently launched an employee-driven change program, bringing in new equipment and greatly reducing the number of times workers like Quipp have to lift cumbersome steel lock-rings — components of industrial wheel assemblies.

Its innovative approach to injury prevention made Rimex the winner of WorkSafeBC’s 2014 Ergonomic Innovations contest, an award given each year in October as part of B.C.’s Occupational Ergonomics Month. The award honours employers deemed to offer their workplaces the best and safest ergonomic design improvements.

Heavy lifting puts workers at risk
Before it introduced departmental changes, Read says pinch-type injuries and soreness among employees in the lock-ring department were far too common. The full lock-rings they handle are between 64 cm (25 in.) and 160 cm (63 in.) in diameter, and weigh up to 50 kg (110 lbs.).

Previously, workers had to heft the rings — about 27 over the course of a day — from pallet to table and from station to station 12 times each during the manufacturing process. It left them open to the risk of musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs).

So Read says the company began an open, honest dialogue with its employees to gather ideas about how to improve comfort, efficiency, and safety in the department. Employees took the lead in conceiving, evaluating, and implementing a new process, correcting necessary mistakes along the way.

Key among their recommendations was the installation of a manual conveyor belt, which now links the three work stations and allows workers to push the lock-rings through the manufacturing process rather than lifting and moving them. Each ring now requires just two lifts. “It works so beautifully,” says Lloyd MacDonald, department lead hand. “I couldn’t be happier, and the guys are happy that their backs aren’t hurting anymore.”

Read credits the program’s success to the fact that workers felt empowered. “The changes were always heartfelt and done carefully, because they’re the ones working there.”

They installed a conveyor belt for $6,000. And, since the company completed its renovations in September 2014, they’ve yet to record a minor or lost-time injury. Productivity is up 30 percent, while warranty complaints and quality issues have “stopped overnight,” he says.

Safer handling process reduces injuries
Poor occupational ergonomics contributes to MSIs, or injuries to the muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues. MSIs are common, and account for almost one third of all lost-time injuries in B.C. on an annual basis. In terms of Rimex’s approach to improving ergonomics, contest judges liked the level of employee engagement — a key element in ergonomics design — says WorkSafeBC Ergonomist Gina Vahlas.

“That’s one of the number-one things we’re looking for — other than risk reduction, of course,” she says. “We also liked their approach. They tried things, and sometimes they didn’t work, and they went back and tried something else.”

Changes in its lock-ring department are only some of Rimex’s noteworthy safety improvements in recent years, says John Fraser, client services manager for WorkSafeBC’s Account Management. The company, which employs 72 people, is working toward elevating their health and safety standards through the COR (certificate of recognition) program this year, and has goals of achieving international standards for its safety management system in the future.

“Rimex Supply has already overcome one of the greatest hurdles in safety: achieving a strong safety culture among its employees,” Fraser says.

Courtesy of the WorkSafeBC Magazine - March/April 2015.

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Aftermath of Lakeland Mills Explosion

LAKELAND MILLS EXPLOSION INQUEST RESUMES
Inquest halted in late March when coroner's counsel John Orr learned WorkSafeBC had declined information from the sawmill's private investigators.

The coroner's inquest into the fatal Lakeland Mills sawmill explosion is set to resume Monday morning after counsel was given more than a month to review new information.

The inquest halted in late March when coroner's counsel John Orr learned WorkSafeBC had declined information from the sawmill's private investigators for its report.

Orr asked for more time to look over that investigation and questioned why he found out about it during the inquest, rather than having it disclosed before.

When the inquest resumes, the lead investigator for the forensic engineering firm for the Lakeland investigation is expected to testify, as are several senior WorkSafe personnel including former CEO David Anderson.

Both WorkSafeBC and Lakeland officials have said the investigation would not have significantly changed the agency's conclusions about the cause of the explosion.

The United Steelworkers has called for a public inquiry and withdrew from the inquiry shortly after its Western Canada director, Stephen Hunt, completed his testimony.

The inquest has heard from 47 witnesses over two-and-a-half weeks, beginning with the widows of Al Little and Glenn Roche, who died from the extensive burns they suffered in the April 23, 2012 blast. Many of the 22 wounded faced serious injuries.

As employees took the stand, the inquest heard about a "near miss" three months before. In the days following the January 2012 incident, Little, a supervisor at the sawmill, twice stopped production to have trouble areas cleaned up. Yet an internal report apparently authored by Little on what happened never made it to upper management and the incident was never reported to Prince George Fire Rescue because no one was hurt and there was no structural damage.

The inquest was first expected to wrap up by March 20, but was soon extended after it became clear witnesses would be subject to extensive questioning from lawyers representing the coroner, USW, WorkSafeBC, Lakeland and, to a lesser extent, the B.C. Safety Authority.

Courtesy of the Price George Citizen Newspaper.                      [back to top]


FWSN Media Room

The Forest Worker Safety Network regularly reviews logging videos on YouTube.com. The video below is our feature pick for this month. Click the video screen if you wish to enlarge the video for viewing on in new browser window on the Youtube.com website.  [back to top]

The Supervisor

This video is a WorkSafeBC-produced documentary-drama that examines issues related to supervisor responsibility for workplace health and safety. The video graphically depicts the emotional, legal, and financial consequences of a fictionalized workplace accident that leads to the death of a young worker. Video courtesy of WorkSafeBC.

Something to say about this video? Email us at: info@fwsn.org.

 

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

A USW Health & Safety Production - Click to view.
USW OH&S Video/a>

FWSN Tailgate Talk

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

Day of Mourning - April 28th

 

Forest Worker Safety Network

The Forest Workers Safety Network (FWSN) is an initiative of United Steelworkers (USW) District 3, which represents over 20,000 forest workers in British Columbia.

In light of rising forest industry fatalities and injuries, the FWSN has been formed as a response to a demand for a worker-focused information and networking system. The FWSN is available to all BC forest workers, at no cost, whether or not they are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The FWSN is initiating its activities by disseminating information developed for BC Coastal loggers and woodlands employees, from stump to dump and beyond. We are also collecting information on safety issues in the sector and on urgent and pressing issues that groups of workers and individuals face. We provide general health and safety information and information on the USW’s ongoing efforts to stop needless fatalities and injuries.

There will be regular communications for all workers who sign up.

Join the Forest Workers Safety Network today!  [back to top]

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Forest Workers Safety Network - 2009