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Safest Mill in Canada Contest 2004

As you all recall, for 2004, we changed the Safest Mill in Canada contest rules to include all medical or recordable cases, not just lost time injuries. The 2004 winners and top four runners-up in...

October 1, 2005  By Pulp & Paper Canada

As you all recall, for 2004, we changed the Safest Mill in Canada contest rules to include all medical or recordable cases, not just lost time injuries. The 2004 winners and top four runners-up in all three categories (A, B, and C) have been revealed from among the participating mills (up over 23% since 2003!). Several of the mills shared with us what they believe are the factors that contributed to their superior safety performances. We are grateful and thank them for their collaboration. Here are some revealing excerpts from their e-mails.


(3rd in Category A):


“At Bowater Thunder Bay we attribute our success to senior management commitment and employee involvement. Our current injury frequency for the site is 1.8 as we continue to work towards an injury-free workplace. Our newest program, titled Layered Safety Auditing (LSA), helps to exemplify this and I believe it has improved our safety focus and performance.

An LSA takes about 10 minutes to complete and requires a manager or superintendent to have a positive “one on one” discussion with a worker about the work that he does and what it takes to do it safely every day. It is an opportunity for the manager to learn more about the work and for the worker to understand the safety expectations of the manager. During the audit, the manager observes the worker performing his duties, then safe behaviours are recognized and discussed as well as at-risk behaviours, and an agreement is made to correct any deficiencies before an injury can occur. The whole purpose of the audit is for both parties to learn from each other through a positive discussion. The audits increase senior management visibility on the floor, discussing health and safety with workers …and sends a clear message to the workforce that safety is important at all levels of the organization.

– Pat Miller, LS Auditor, Supt. H&S

On May 18th, 2005, a fatality occurred at the Bowater, Thunder Bay mill involving what appeared to be a faulty high pressure hose valve. This unfortunate tragedy only adds to the mill’s resolve to work harder at improving safety.


(1st in Category B):

“Although the Grande Prairie Pulp mill won the award for safest mill in our category, it comes at a time where we don’t feel very good about our results. The last time we won the award (2002) we were celebrating 2 million hours without a lost time incident, not quite the same as our results this past year. We continue to work hard in the areas of hazard identification/removal and have introduced ‘Safe Start’ into the facility as an additional tool to identify and change “at-risk” behaviors. We still have an active early intervention program for identifying and treating soft tissue discomfort before it gets to the injury stage. This program has been very successful. We have robust industrial hygiene, occupational health and emergency response programs.

Our employees are actively involved in the safety program through Near Miss/Hazard Observation reporting, safety training, housekeeping, and developing safe operating procedures.”

– Linda Perkins, Pulp mill/ Site Health & Safety Manager


(3rd in Category C):

“We have not instituted any new safety initiatives or programs in 2004. Statistically, we had a very good year again in 2004, a credit to the skill and commitment of our people. But rather than statistics, we focus on whether we were successful in sending each person working in our mill home safe and healthy at the end of each work day. And, despite our efforts, we experienced two recordable incidents during the year — these were minor injuries, but having two co-workers get hurt in any way reminds us all that we can’t sit back and rely on the past performance of our safety program.

Our strong safety performance over the years starts with a management team that believes health and safety is a core value, equal in importance to production, quality and protection of the environment. While our leadership team may provide the gas, it is our employees who do the steering — our effectiveness is driven by their willing participation in all elements of the safety system. We do have a well-designed, well thought-out system for managing operations safely — one built on the basis of employee knowledge of their work environment. But there is no “magic bullet” program — most safety initiatives are built on a strong foundation of owner, manager and employee buy-in, (plus a) shared commitment to continuous improvement of our performance (for) all operations, every day. We hope that, next year, we’ll be able to say we really were successful in achieving our goal — no injuries to anyone in our mill.”

– Scott Woodman C.R.S.P. Safety Coordinator

In 2005, the mill introduced an interesting Alberta Forest Products Association program on a limited basis called Pre-Job Process (PJP). This is a pre-task preparation and risk assessment process designed to identify and control hazards related to the general task at hand. This is an emerging concept for hazard management that Safety Matters has covered in past issues (2002/2003) and is beginning to attract global attention. It bears watching!


All four of these mills have exhibited exceptional safety performance in the last two years, especially 2004, with La Tuque 2nd in Category A, while the other three mills scored 1st, 2nd, and 5th in Category C. Sadly, the Bathurst and New Richmond mills are now closed for economic reasons. Their employees, safety personnel and management are to be especially congratulated on their excellent safety performance despite the negative business atmosphere.

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