Sault Ste. Marie logger wins health and safety awards two years in a row

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Fleming’s Trucking and Logging celebrates double win

Fleming's Trucking and Logging staff accept safety award from WSN

From left to right: Mike Lemay and Candys Ballanger-Michaud from WSN with President’s Award winners Melissa Fleming, John Fleming, Bryon Hall, and Linda Hall.

In September 2016, Fleming’s Trucking and Logging was awarded two trophies for the second year in a row from Workplace Safety North (WSN). The President’s Awards recognize the top health and safety performers in Ontario’s mining, forestry, paper, printing, and converting sectors, as well as small businesses in northern Ontario, based on safety performance over the past two calendar years.

Situated on St. Joseph Island just east of Sault Ste. Marie, John Fleming is a fourth generation logger who employs approximately seven employees, including his wife, Melissa Fleming, as office manager, and his father-in-law, Bryon Hall, as safety coordinator. The operation consists of 95 per cent hardwood, including maple, beech, oak and birch. A variety of sophisticated harvesting equipment means they can cut and process wood onsite, and logs are stacked at the side of the road for pickup by haul trucks. 

“We’ve been incorporated since 2005 – after years and years of logging – my dad is 76 now and still working with us every day,” says John Fleming, President of Fleming’s Trucking and Logging. “We went from horses to today’s cut-to-length system – that’s really working well for us here.”

“We should fix this before we have issues”

Fleming is proud of his crew: two on harvesters, one on a forwarder, one building roads, and Fleming hauls wood with his own truck. Two employees recently attended supervisor training. “Our guys have really taken hold of the safety training. We sent two guys to the supervisor training in the spring. That worked well. They’re proud of the stuff we’re doing.”

The training encourages staff to continually scan for any issues. “It’s not that you get a certificate at the end,” says Fleming. “It’s the end result: it’s a better place to be, for one thing, because everybody’s thinking about safety. We’re looking for things that are unsafe, and changing it; it’s a constant thing.”

As their operations change and grow, Fleming says, “little things come up” and his staff’s mindset is to fix it before an outside auditor can point it out. “The guys are looking at things the way an outsider might. Like when Mike [Lemay, WSN Health and Safety Specialist] or the Ministry of Labour comes to do an audit or visit, they’re trying to get ahead of them—so we’re on top of that before they can point it out. That’s the kind of stuff that the guys are focused on. Around the machines, they say, ‘We should fix this before we have issues’ ‘Yeah, let’s get it done!’ So, it’s great.”

“Look what we got!”

Last year, when Fleming travelled to North Bay to accept the awards, he had to miss most of the annual contractors meeting in Sault Ste. Marie. “There were 30 to 40 guys there--loggers, truckers, and operators. As soon as we got back from North Bay, I dropped off my family and went directly up there. I was just getting there at the very end of the meeting, but I flipped our awards out on the tailgate and said, ‘Here, look what we got.’

“So everybody had a look at them. The other contractors didn’t even know that you could get awards. I said, ‘Yeah, you do the right things and get everything in place, and they come and check you out—you can get them, too! Anyway, it’s kind of a show-off thing,” he laughs, “but my guys were all there, my crew, so that was the first time they got to take a look at them, and actually hold on to something that was awarded to them—so, here, look at it, show it off! It worked out well.”

Safety is good for business

Due to publicity from the awards, the Flemings received an unexpected call from someone who had recently moved to the area from Windsor and had read an online article about Fleming’s business. “I had a call to meet with some landowners who wanted 100 acres looked at. Right out of the blue-- it blew me out of the water. They said, ‘Oh yeah, we know a little bit about you.’ I said, ‘Well, how do you know me?’ They said, ‘Well, we were on the Internet and we saw some pictures of you receiving some awards.’ That kind of surprised me. So it’s great that people can get on the Internet and type in our business and that kind of stuff comes up, you know: good news stuff!”

“In our eyes, it’s a big thing”

Fleming encourages other businesses to participate in the health and safety awards. “As an employer it’s a good idea to participate. You have something to show for all your hard work. In our eyes, it’s a big thing. When you’ve cut wood all your life, it’s nice to be rewarded, to have something to show for it.

“You try to build and build your business, and at the end of the day, you sit at home and there’s something there that says, ‘Yeah, you did a good job,’ and it makes you feel good.”

Winning a health and safety award also boosts confidence for business owners, says Fleming. “People should be trying to do better and trying to get in on it because it makes your life easier, too – if you have something to show for it, you can tell people like Mike [Lemay, WSN Health and Safety Specialist] or the Ministry of Labour, ‘Yeah, look what we did! We did succeed at this.’ It gives them confidence in us that we’re doing the right thing. So it would definitely help somebody else.”

About WSN Awards

The WSN Workplace Excellence Awards program provides recognition to Ontario firms actively engaged in improving health and safety performance. Companies complete an assessment of current health and safety programs, and develop an action plan to improve safety performance. Companies scoring 80 per cent or more on the self-assessment submit the completed assessment in order to receive a display plaque. Self-assessments are reviewed and scores may be validated by an on-site visit from WSN. All submissions are automatically considered for the President’s Award. Scoring is based on the results of the self-assessment in combination with statistical performance over the past two calendar years. Top scoring firms in forestry, mining, paper, printing, and converting, and small business are presented with the President’s Award at the WSN annual general meeting each September.


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