Pulp and Paper Canada

Keep your eyes, ears and mind open

August 1, 2000  By Pulp & Paper Canada

Stephenville’s path to a better safety record started with a borrowed idea: safety logbooks first observed at the Stora mill in Port Hawkesbury, NS. Implemented 10 years ago, there is one in every mil…

Stephenville’s path to a better safety record started with a borrowed idea: safety logbooks first observed at the Stora mill in Port Hawkesbury, NS. Implemented 10 years ago, there is one in every mill department. Anyone can enter safety observations/concerns. The books are monitored monthly by the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC). With daily checks by area supervisors, the books act as a 24-hour continual inspection.

The JOHSC is comprised of 11 people, six representing the union (six mill areas) and five from management, two of which are senior management (but not the mill manager). The second vice-president of the union automatically carries the union co-chair; the other union members are voted in. Pulp & Paper Canada met with Glenn MacDonald, management co-chair, Harold Smith Jr., union co-chair, and Simeon Lee, paper machine/TMP, JOHSC union member.


Following its monthly monitoring of the books, the JOHSC signs off on each one and uses the information to develop part of the agenda for the monthly safety meeting as well as part of the agenda for the mill manager’s monthly meeting with his staff. All information is reviewed at these meetings.

One of the major initiatives arising from the books was lighting improvements. The three-year program completed in 1999 has resulted in a bright mill. (It is also very clean. Housekeeping is obviously important.) Lighting and housekeeping go hand-in-hand, according to the JOHSC representatives who spoke with Pulp & Paper Canada. It leads to better morale, productivity and safety.

The mill also has a dedicated Safety Day, scheduled the last Wednesday of each month. All JOHSC members are expected to attend. If a union member happens to be on night shift, he will be taken off so he is available for Safety Day.

Near misses are entered into the logbooks. These entries initiate expedient investigations. All action items resulting from any investigation are entered into the logbooks. Both sides represented on the JOHSC maintained that there is no “union:management attitude”. All committee members willingly assume responsibility for mill issues such as lighting, temperature, fire prevention and confined space tests.

All of the safety programs, save one, were developed in-house. The exception is the 40-h, Level One Pulp and Paper Safety Program from the Workers Centre for Health and Safety, an Ontario-based, worker-driven health and safety delivery organization. By late March, about 50% of the workforce had taken the course. This includes senior, middle and line management, shop stewards and safety representatives. Acceptance of the package has been “exceptionally” high. It encompasses all safety areas — legislation, physical/chemical hazards, attitudes, how to run safety committees, how to conduct inspections etc.

As noted, constant personal safety awareness is of major importance in maintaining a good safety record. The JOHSC tries to continue things that work and look for innovative things to add to programs. However, if things don’t work, they will be let go and new ideas tried.

The mill, as part of an ACI Canadian mill joint initiative with the CEP, conducts a semi-annual review of safety key indicators through a 35-page questionnaire, called the Safety Checklist. Through a union JOHSC member, usually the co-chair, the checklist is completed through interviews with union and management representatives in each department. Any new issues, arising from the semi-annual review, are added to the logbook of that department. At times, common issues appear throughout the mill. To address these common issues, special initiatives or meetings are held to improve performance in those areas.

The mill manager has his own logbook. If an issue is raised that is out of the control of the individual departmental superintendent, the co-chairs will move an item from a departmental logbook to the mill manager’s. From there, senior management will work to resolve the item.

The JOHSC members noted that everyone is willing to look at things from different angles. Sometimes, it is very difficult to change entrenched mindsets, to fight tradition — “We’ve always done it that way.” However, at Stephenville, if someone comes up with a different idea, it’s looked at willingly.

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