Forest products safety forum held in Thunder Bay

Monday, December 02, 2019

New WSIB program, respirable wood dust, harassment prevention, and managing change on the agenda

Last month in Thunder Bay, health and safety managers and Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) members from the forest products sector in northern Ontario, along with the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (MLTSD), Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and Workplace Safety North (WSN) participated in a one-day safety forum. Participants took part in various health and safety topics, shared best practices and networked with their peers from industry.

Man giving presentation to group of people in a meeting room

Jeff Pearce, Health and Safety Excellence Validator with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, provided information on the new Health and Safety Excellence Program (Excellence program). The Program integrates the strengths of Workwell, Safety Groups and the Small Business Health and Safety Program (formally SCIP).

Woman demonstrating industrial hygiene devicesThe Excellence program provides a clear roadmap for businesses to improve workplace safety, whether the firm is just starting out or is interested in optimizing the systems and process already in place. Successfully completing the health and safety topics (one to five per year) can lead to improved health and safety performance which can lower premium rates as well as recognition from WSIB such as digital badges on the WSIB website to show job seekers, customers and investors an employer’s commitment to health and safety.  Workplace Safety North is a WSIB-approved provider of the new program.

Judit Nelson, WSN Industrial Hygiene Specialist, provided the group with information on wood dust exposure. Judit’s passionate talk provided participants with information on exposure statistics, health effects of dusts, exposure assessment, monitoring and strategies for implementing controls. Judit is available to assist firms with their industrial hygiene programs. 

Gary Vance, Occupational Health and Safety Inspector with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, outlined the legislative requirements regarding workplace violence and harassment in the workplace. Gary also outlined the steps inspectors will take if notified of a harassment/violence complaint. 

Woman presents to group of people in a meeting room

The afternoon began with a presentation from Adrienne Allam, WSN Health and Safety Specialist, outlining the importance for employers to have a Management of Change program to ensure that safety, health and environmental risks and hazards are properly controlled when an organization makes changes to their facilities, operations or personnel.  

Marilyn Findlay, CRSP, Health and Safety Manager, Domtar Dryden operation, provided a good example of the Management of Change process at Domtar Dryden illustrating that having a properly implemented Management of Change policy and program when making changes can help ensure new hazards are not introduced and existing hazard risk levels are not increased.  

Rounding up the day’s events, various participants from mills in the region shared their best practices and health and safety activities.

Woman presents to group of people in meeting room


Forestry occupational health and safety statistics

Paper, Printing, and Converting occupational health and safety statistics

Free workplace health and safety resources