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Atotech Canada Ltd. - Following the Golden Rule

By Mari-Len De Guzman
| www.cos-mag.com

It’s not the size of the workforce that defines a successful health and safety management system; it’s the commitment that every single individual in the organization makes to achieve the goal of injury prevention.

“If you don’t have the support at every level within the organization, it’s not going to work,” notes Ester Di Giovanni, health, safety, environment and security specialist at Atotech Canada Ltd, a recipient of this year’s Canada’s Safest Employers Award.

A subsidiary of Total Oil and Gas, Atotech Canada is a supplier of integrated production systems, chemistry, equipment, know-how and service for decorative and functional electroplating, semiconductor and printed circuit board manufacturing. With 47 full-time employees, Atotech Canada has established a culture of engagement, in which the safety of the workers is “the way we do business.”

“At all levels within our organization, whoever you talk to — whether it’s a chemical operator, a product specialist, a manager, a financial controller or a lab technician — everyone is committed to achieving the health and safety aspirations of preventing incidents and proactively identifying hazards or potential risks, and resolving them,” says Di Giovanni.

Atotech Canada has invested in various training programs to ensure that employees understand and remain committed to the company’s health and safety objectives: safety culture training, bi-weekly safety “tidbits,” monthly “golden rule” training, and various regulatory training.

As part of a global company, Atotech Canada adheres to numerous international standards that enable it to continuously make technical improvements over the years to optimize its safety management system.  The company has certifications in ISO 9001 Quality Management System Standard, ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard and a Level 8 DNV - International Safety Rating.

“But it’s not those systems that make the day-to-day life real. Excellent performance depends on our people — it’s our behaviour and our compliance with those systems that turn them into reality,” Di Giovanni says.

Management involvement in health and safety has been evident across the company by making resources available to support various health and safety programs. For example, Atotech’s recently revitalized Housekeeping Policy, which mandates a “safe and clean plant” as a proactive way to prevent safety hazards and high-risk situations, have been well-received and implemented. Management provided the resources — time, personnel and equipment — to support the policy, Di Giovanni says.

“I would say that it starts with management — leadership support is critical,” she says. “It starts with setting realistic goals for the site, communicating what we’re going to achieve on an annual basis, and then providing the resources we need to achieve those goals.”

Atotech Canada also relies on useful corporate resources from its parent company, Total Oil and Gas. The most recent one is a corporate program called the Total’s Golden Rules — a new health and safety training program that applies to health and safety both in the workplace and at home, which facilities like Atotech Canada can take and apply to its own plant. The program was designed to clearly explain the basic rules that everyone should know and apply, and strengthen prevention by encouraging people to step in whenever they see something being done wrong or if the risk is not being properly managed.

Rule No. 2 of the Total Golden Rule applies to traffic safety both inside and outside the plant facility. Atotech conducted regular meetings to brainstorm on ideas on how to implement the rules at the Burlington, Ont. site. This became an opportunity for Atotech employees to come up with ideas and suggestions to improve traffic safety within and outside the plant.

As a result, pedestrian safety inside the plant has been enhanced. Lines were installed to create safer pathways for pedestrians, safe from moving lift trucks and other industrial vehicles. Outside, new safety signs were put up and a new security gate to slow down and control traffic was installed.

All these implementations came from ideas and suggestions the workers themselves came up with.

“The employees are very proud of having been recognized for their commitment,” Di Giovanni says about Atotech Canada winning Canada’s Safest Employers Award. “It’s because of what we all do on a day-to-day basis that we are who we are — and it’s nice to be recognized for that.”

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