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 2016, we had an impressive safety performance across all our operations with a company-wide medical incident rate (MIR) of 1.90 – the lowest we have ever achieved. Canfor Southern pine finished the year with an MIR of 1.76 and our Canadian solid wood operations were 1.96 – the lowest single year ever achieved for both. Canfor Pulp was 2.29, and registered its best three-year average. Our safety record is a testament to the continued vigilance and care of all our employees. 

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.

Two mills – Graham, NC, and Jackson, AL – tied for the President’s Safety Awards for sawmills with no recorded incidents. Graham also earned an award for the lowest three-year MIR, at 0.97. The Forest Management Group had an MIR of 0.68, the lowest in our forest management and trucking. 

Our New South Express trucking fleet has a solid reputation for safe operations. In 2016, it received a second place Truck Safety Award from the South Carolina Trucking Association, based on mileage. At driver appreciation events in South and North Carolina, New South Express recognized 46 drivers who accumulated more than four million miles without a crash or violation.

For the second year in a row, our Grande Prairie Sawmill received a Health and Safety Excellence award from the Alberta Forest Products Association. The mill had the lowest injury rate per person/hour among member sawmills/planer mills with more than 300,000 person hours worked. 

Our laminating plant in Washington, GA, received the APA-Engineering Wood Association Safety Award for achieving a zero incident rate or no recordable incidents in 2015. 

Canfor Pulp was among the companies that received a 2015 CN Safe Handling Award for meeting strict standards for the safe handling and shipment of regulated products.

Canfor Pulp worked with supplier SHB to design innovative, first-of-its-kind crotch plates for the boiler operations at our Northwood Pulp Mill which are safer because they do not need to be welded to the furnace tubes. In 2015, there were leaks in the furnace tubes because the crotch plates – designed to keep liquid smelt at the bottom of the furnace – tore away when the boilers are running hard, leaving a hole in the tubes. The new design means the boilers can operate efficiently – and safely.

Canfor Southern Pine foresters from North and South Carolina attended a two-day defensive driving course in June, part of a commitment to employee safety that includes monthly educational meetings covering topics such as driver safety, logging safety, proper use of personal protective equipment, tick and insect hazards, heat safety and first aid.

In British Columbia, we took part in safety presentations about distracted driving and professional driving at Vanderhoof for more than 250 contract truckers and loggers in April. Later the same day, we sponsored a school assembly at Fort St. James where students listened to a Drop it and Drive talk about distracted driving.  

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. There are monitors in all of our Canadian solid wood locations and most of our US lumber operations. Our Northwood Pulp mill also has the technology installed to begin using Canfor TVs in 2017. Each runs a continuous loop of reports, news, safety tips and more – selected to be relevant to the specific location.  

Canfor was among the sponsors of a forest safety conference organized by BC Forest Safety and the Interior Logging Association in May. It brought together 114 participants from harvesting to manufacturing, and offered practical information and tools to help them understand and resolve safety challenges. In October, we were the main sponsor of the second annual Forest Industry Health and Wellness Conference in Vancouver where speakers shared expertise about how to start a workplace wellness program, and the benefits of encouraging healthy living. Members of our safety and health and wellness committees attended the event.  

We conducted risk assessments of all our Canadian manufacturing facilities as part of the Mobile Equipment and Pedestrian Safety Improvement Plan we developed in 2015 as a result of two serious forklift incidents. We used the assessments to create action plans and implemented new technology to reduce the risk associated with mobile equipment and pedestrian interactions. We have made forklift blue safety lights standard issue on all our new mobile equipment, and these will become part of our safety program at all operations over time. In addition, as a result of a successful pilot at our Prince George Sawmill, we are looking for ways to expand the use of the “HitNot” mobile equipment safety system to other mills based on their risk level. With this safety measure, pedestrians wear alarm devices and generators on mobile equipment project a magnetic field that trigger visual and audible alarms within a specific warning zone. 

A Back to School-Back to Basics safety campaign resulted in the safest September in 10 years at our Canadian solid wood operations. The campaign was launched to address the fact safety performance is often poorest in September, likely because of distractions that come with the new school year and change of season. The key to changing behaviour is personal engagement – and we documented 1,342 meaningful conversations between employees and supervisors in the one month alone. 

Canfor President's Award Winner - Debbie Sand

Debbie Sand, Regional VP, HR Safety and Environment, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her leadership in environmental and safety programs. She was instrumental in establishing New South Express trucking, which consistently wins industry awards for its safety performance.