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Pphsa Conference Addresses Courageous Leadership During Tough Times

It's been a tough year for industry. A high Canadian dollar. Skyrocketing energy prices. Idled lines. The past year has witnessed a flood of news reports on mill closures, plant shutdowns and communit...


September 1, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Labour Minister Steve Peters addressed the annual conference.

It’s been a tough year for industry. A high Canadian dollar. Skyrocketing energy prices. Idled lines. The past year has witnessed a flood of news reports on mill closures, plant shutdowns and communities being ravaged by job losses. But as everyone at the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Conference stood and shared a moment of silence to remember those who died on the job — the word ‘tough’ became an understatement.

During the conference’s keynote address, leading North American thinker on improving personal, team and organizational performance, Jim Clemmer, discussed keeping our workplaces safe during the pressures of daily production, continuous industry and organizational change, and the inevitable cutbacks.

With industry taking aggressive action to reduce costs, experts are pointing to the research that says a safe and healthy workplace is a low risk, high return investment that can substantially increase a company’s bottom line. Consider these facts:

* Stress-related absences cost Canadian employers $3.5 billion each year.

* Every lost time claim in Ontario has an average cost of about $70,000.

* Cost-benefit ratio ranges from $1.15 to $8.00 for every dollar invested in a healthy workplace.

Involving people in identifying unnecessary costs, waste, and errors that could be reduced or eliminated puts the focus on everyone’s responsibility to create and maintain a safe, healthy and profitable workplace. That means working together when the financial heat is on.

In unsure times, health and safety is a sure bet — with tangible rewards to the business, its people, their families, industry, customers, and the communities in which they operate.

Everyone at the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Conference understands these important concepts. Our challenge as an industry is to find the courage to apply them.

As Clemmer put it “Leaders don’t blame others when things get tough. They recognize what can be done, what needs to be done, and they take charge of doing it.”

The good news is that Ontario’s workplace health and safety strategy is producing dramatic results by preventing the human cost of workplace injuries and avoiding costs for businesses, Labour Minister Steve Peters announced at the annual conference hosted by the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Association (PPHSA) in May.

“Our plan is working,” he told delegates. “We are well on track to reduce the lost-time injury rate by 20% by 2008.”

As a result of the strategy, he reported that there have been 14,649 fewer lost-time injuries to Ontario workers over the past two years, resulting in businesses avoiding over $960 million in costs associated with workplace injuries.

The event was sponsored by Abitibi-Consolidated, Georgia Pacific, Grant Forest Products and Smurfit-MBI.

Cindy Hunter is the PPHSA Program/Communications Specialist.