Health and Safety

Safety is our single highest priority, and we take pride in the fact that our employees consistently keep us a safety leader in our sector. We regularly undertake events to promote employee involvement in safety, and to continue to raise awareness about the importance of working safely.

Canfor’s Safety Policy affirms every employee’s right to refuse unsafe work, and encourages all employees to report any safety concerns they may have to their supervisor, a safety committee member, or someone in authority.

In 2015, our solid wood operations exceeded Canfor’s safety target by finishing the year with a medical incident report of 1.90 across all Canadian and US east operations – the lowest MIR since we began tracking it in 2005. We also began to integrate the tracking of our newly acquired US operations’ safety performance, which achieved an MIR of 3.85 in 2015. While Canfor Pulp did not reach the 2.0 target, it tied our previous record year for safety with a 2.12 rating, its best in the last 12 years. These results come from exceptional performance across all the company, with a number of operations recording the lowest MIR for a single year since we began keeping safety records. With a 2015 company-wide medical incident rate of 2.21, we made significant progress towards our 2015 goal of 2.0 while integrating our newly acquired US South operations in to our safety reporting.

All Canfor employees are represented by formal joint management-worker health and safety committees. These committees meet regularly to review safety performance, to ensure there is a formal mechanism to bring safety issues forward, and to take action to improve workplace safety.

We make sure all of our contractors and sub-contractors meet our high expectations for safety. Canadian Industrial Mill Services, which is involved in the annual maintenance shutdowns and major capital upgrades of our Prince George pulp and paper mills, uses a comprehensive risk assessment process to ensure its employees perform the work safely. In British Columbia, we require that all of our woodlands contractors are SAFE-company certified by the BC Forest Safety Council.

New South Express won the President’s Safety Awards for forest management and trucking in 2015 with an MIR of 1.02 – winning in this category for the fourth year in a row. Graham had the lowest MIR for sawmills at 0.74 and the lowest overall MIR for the previous three years at 1.49. Mills that received honourable mentions for an MIR lower than 2.0 included Plateau, Jackson, Mackenzie, Camden, Thomasville, Houston and Vavenby.

New South Express drivers have also been consistent winners of industry safety awards for the last decade. In 2015, New South Express received four safety awards from the South Carolina Trucking Association, including the Industrial Safety Award Private Fleet for the lowest injury rate. It also earned second place for Large Mixed Operations in the National Private Truck Council’s Fleet Safety Awards.

On June 20, our Plateau Sawmill in Vanderhoof, BC, marked a full year with no safety incidents. Stephen Mackie, Senior Vice President, Canadian Operations, congratulated staff, saying: “This level of outstanding safety performance could not be attained without the effort, focus and personal commitment to working safely every day by all Plateau employees.”

Chetwynd won the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) BC award for Best New Entry for creatively sharing the safety and health message during the week-long health and safety conference. The Alberta Forest Products Association recognized Grande Prairie Division with an award for Health and Safety excellence.

Consistent with an initiative identified in the 2015 Canfor Business Plan, we continued to implement behaviour-based safety projects across our Canadian Solid Wood group. Our Houston manufacturing facility completed phase one of a project to improve lockout and tag out practices. They surveyed employees on their lockout knowledge and behaviour, and used this information to identify specific actions for improvements. The project will continue in 2016, and key learnings are being shared across the organization.

Our Forest Management Group held poster and slogan campaigns to engage workers involved in a variety of outdoor activities – from laying out cutblocks for harvest to completing silvicultural obligations. They added a new poster with a safety message every month, and printed the winning slogan on T-shirts distributed to all employees.

We achieved another of our safety targets by testing Canfor TV. What began as a safety initiative has been expanded into a great tool to share information across our company. By the end of 2015, eight locations had monitors. Each runs a continuous loop of reports, news, safety tips and more – selected to be relevant to the specific location. 

Employees at our Taylor Pulp Mill took part in an emergency drill in October to test how well emergency responders could work together were a disaster to strike. Fire, police, the ambulance service, utilities and involved agencies joined in as details of the crisis unfolded.

Canfor was a platinum sponsor of the first Northern BC Safety Conference, which was held in Prince George and offered practical information and tools to manage safety challenges at work. The conference focuses on driving safely since driving is the number-one cause of worker fatalities in BC.

We were well represented at the 2015 SHARP Safety Conference in Prince George – nearly half of the delegates were from Canfor. This biannual event is organized by Safety & Health Awareness Research Program (SHARP) trustees who represent forest companies, including Canfor, and the United Steelworkers. The key message was personal accountability for safety.

In 2015, we expanded the Why I Work Safely campaign, which was started by our Mackenzie division in 2014. A number of other operations in both manufacturing and forestry followed Mackenzie’s lead by encouraging employees to submit photos and stories showing the reasons why they choose to work safely each and every day. It is another example of our ongoing focus to make safety personal.   

We developed a Mobile Equipment and Pedestrian Safety Improvement Plan in 2015 as a result of two serious forklift incidents. It includes a revised pedestrian safety policy to clarify roles and responsibilities, better training for both pedestrians and operators to identify hazards, and improved education and awareness. The plan also included facility risk assessments using GPS technology to identify the highest risk area so plans can be developed to reduce the risk.

There was also a pilot project to improve pedestrian safety at our Prince George sawmill. Under this Hit-Not system, pedestrians wear personal alarm devices, and generators on mobile equipment project a magnetic field that detects the device and triggers visual and audible alarms within a specific warning zone. A study by research agency FPInnovations found early results were promising, and identified ways to make it ever better. Prince George sawmill has shared its findings with other mills, and the pilot became part of our safety improvement plan.

A Safe Hands for September challenge that began at our Plateau mill and soon extended to all operations was a great success. We had fewer hand injuries reported in September than we had in any month in the last four years—a 43% drop when compared to the average month over those four years. Among other things, employees and contractors were encouraged to use the right gloves for each job and be more attentive when taking on activities where hands could be injured. Prince George Sawmill handed out work gloves of all sizes – even for the kids – at its Family Wellness Day on September 12.