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PPHSA Celebrates 90 Years of Health and Safety Achievement


June 1, 2005
By Pulp & Paper Canada

During 1914 the Ontario Provincial Legislature commissioned Chief Justice Sir William Meredith to author a Workmen’s Compensation Act. It was the first of its kind in Canada and was probably the best…

During 1914 the Ontario Provincial Legislature commissioned Chief Justice Sir William Meredith to author a Workmen’s Compensation Act. It was the first of its kind in Canada and was probably the best instrument of social legislation in North America at the time.

The new Workmen’s Compensation Act became effective on January 1st, 1915. It provided for compensation to injured workmen who would be deprived of earnings as a result of accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment. The new Act was accepted by all parties involved. Although not all employers were to be covered, it was a triumph that government, industry and labour all agreed to mutual acceptance of legitimate claims without need of litigation.

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One section of the Compensation Act wisely allowed all employers in the various rate groups to band together in associations for the prevention of industrial accidents. The executives of the pulp and paper industry very quickly seized this opportunity that could, with dedicated management, become not only a means of protecting workers but also a means of controlling accident costs, since all costs were to be paid by the industry.

In accordance, several of the pulp and paper industry executives met and elected a provisional Board of Directors. The companies involved in this initial step were:

* Kinleith Paper Company

* Montrose Paper Mills

* Interlake Tissue Mills

* Spanish River Pulp & Paper Mills

* Riordan Pulp & Paper Company

* J. R. Booth Company

* Abitibi Power & Paper Company

* Don Valley Paper Company

* Canadian International Paper Company

* Toronto Paper Manufacturing Company

* Ontario Paper Company

The provisional Board of Directors immediately petitioned the WCB for status as an association, and on March 11th, 1915 the newly formed Ontario Pulp and Paper Makers Safety Association (OPPMSA, now PPHSA) was granted Letters Patent as an Ontario Company without share value and as a non-profit organization.

PPHSA remains the only non-profit of its kind in Canada working specifically with converters, sheet plants, corrugators and mills; assisting them in achieving regulatory compliance and improving occupational health and safety performance — resulting in lower worker compensation premiums, fewer losses, improved productivity and increased profitability.

Making a difference

In 1915 the assessment rate for pulp and paper manufacturing was $1.70 based on assessable payroll. In 1990 the rate was $2.90. Today the rate for pulp, newsprint and specialty papers is $2.05, and $2.57 for corrugated papers. This is truly a phenomenal result when all factors are considered. First the waiting period that defined a disabling injury was seven calendar days from 1915 until 1952. This period was subsequently lowered to five days in 1952, to three days shortly after and finally to the loss of one day as a final step. One would shudder to think of the possible injury frequency rate and resulting costs had there been no safety association.

The industry as a whole is fraught with dangerous processes and situations. It is a large industry with many thousands of employees, yet it is probably the safest large industry in Ontario and can make this claim only because of the high interest shown by all ranks in accident prevention. The number of fatal injuries has been on a downward trend for many years. In 1925 there were 26 recorded fatalities in Ontario. Over the last five years nine lives have been lost; still too many. We all have more work to do.

THROUGH 90 YEARS of experience, PPHSA has learned three very valuable things.

1. LUCK RUNS OUT

Many firms find their competitive edge is diminished because they are not meeting their health and safety challenges. One industry firm was fined $50,000 as a result of a hand injury to a contract worker; another received a fine of $125,000 after an employee suffered arm and shoulder injuries. Relying on luck or good fortune can lead to individual fines of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment. Corporations can be fined up to $500,000. Now that occupational health and safety negligence is a criminal offence — there is no ceiling for fines on indictable or more serious offences.

2. ACCIDENTS COST

Statistics show the leading cause for health and safety related losses are not due to worker inattention, but rather, management systems that are less than effective. Companies tend to focus on production and income generation. They don’t believe that safety pays. However, the best investment management can make is in its people — in providing a solid base for their physical well-being and financial security. Leading workplaces that make this investment see hazards controlled, losses minimized, injuries reduced and rebates contributing to their bottom line.

3. PREVENTION SAVES

Statistics reveal a significant improvement in injury frequency among workplaces that use PPHSA programs and services. In fact, many firms where PPHSA had an intervention show frequency rates less than half the industry average!

Cindy Hunter is a PPHSA Program/Communications Specialist. PPHSA is located in North Bay, Ontario. (705) 474-7233. www.pphsa.on.ca


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