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B.C. manufacturer's safety commitment results in financial gains: exec

By Mari-Len De Guzman

Manufacturing executives in British Columbia are spreading the word on the benefits of corporate health and safety commitment to the organization's overall productivity.

In a breakfast mentoring session, Paul Boileau, director of operations at Soprema Canada in Chiliwack, B.C., told other manufacturers in the Chiliwack and Abbotsford, B.C., areas how his company's quest for a culture of safety excellence has led to solid returns in investments.

“Upon achieving certification for Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) through FIOSA-MIOSA, productivity rose, absenteeism declined, injury rates dropped and WorkSafeBC insurance premiums were lowered significantly,” said Boileau.

The breakfast session, organized with the support of the FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC, was held at the Soprema plant to introduce and discuss the BC Leadership Health and Safety Charter. The Charter, signed by 22 CEOs and senior executives on October 27, 2011, is the first document of its kind in B.C. history.

FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC is a not-for-profit safety association for the food and beverage processing and manufacturing industry in the province.

Representatives from several local firms (including Sandel Foods, Fraser Valley Duck and Goose, Meadow Valley Meats, Johnson Packers of Chilliwack) also discussed the value of health and safety to their organizations and learned about the initiatives being undertaken on behalf of the manufacturing and food processing industries by the BC Health and Safety Charter Steering Council.

A three-year action plan has been established in order to have a minimum of 150 signatures on the BC Health and Safety Charter by 2015. FIOSA-MIOSA CEO Lisa McGuire told attendees about the Charter and explained the role her organization is playing in promoting health and safety in B.C.

“We are here to help, and bringing the leaders on board is critical to driving positive change within an organization. We are an industry supported not-for-profit establishment and it is important to note that we work with and for industry towards our mission. Building good health and safety programs reduces risk and injuries, which is good for business,” said McGuire. “The BC Health and Safety Charter is about moving forward with industry to build safer and healthier workplaces for B.C. workers.”

Since FIOSA-MIOSA was established by the food and beverage processing in 2007 injury rates in the industry have dropped significantly from 8 per cent in 2008 to 4.9 per cent in 2010.

McGuire said, “We have much more to accomplish but we are moving in the right direction.” She explained that FIOSA-MIOSA, which is headquartered in Chilliwack, is an industry organization devoted to helping its members achieve higher levels of health and safety in their operations to reduce injuries and costs for all of their members.

Boileau explained that his firm’s commitment to health and safety stems primarily from a desire to work in a safe workplace and to be able look employees in the eye knowing management has taken active steps to reduce risk.

Of Soprema’s 17 plants and operations throughout Europe and North America, Soprema Chilliwack has ranked first in overall operational efficiency for the last three years, Boileau said.

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