I had a chance to see history in the making on October 27 when 23 CEOs and senior managers signed BC’s first workplace safety charter in Vancouver. I was there to cover the event as a guest reporter for Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine Online and wrote this story about it.
This new Health and Safety Leadership Charter was introduced at the Leading Performers Conference hosted by the FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC. The Safety Alliance represents the province’s food processing and manufacturing industry, and their goal is 150 signatures on the Charter by 2015.
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have their own safety charters already – and I’m glad to see BC join their ranks. By signing the Charter, industry leaders are making a public commitment to build a strong workplace safety culture for their employees, customers, and communities.
Injuries in manufacturing and food processing
The injury rate among BC manufacturers is 4.6 – nearly double the province-wide injury rate of 2.37, according to WorkSafeBC stats from 2008. The food processing sub-sector has an even higher rate of injury at 7.1 – and, fyi, that means for every person who works full-time in a one-year period, 7.1 out of 100 were injured.
In 2009, BC’s manufacturing sector paid $121 million in claims and the actual cost to employers is estimated at $605 million. The most common cause of injury was lifting, followed by repetitive movement, injuries from sharp edges, and slips, according to a 2010 Safety Alliance survey.
“Simply put, there are too many individuals whose lives, well-being, personal finances, and health are being adversely affected by the poor health and safety record of our industry,” said Safety Alliance CEO Lisa McGuire, who described the Charter as a starting-point for leaders.
At the conference, speakers and attendees discussed how health and safety can lead to increased business sustainability, profitability, and corporate performance. CBC’s Kathryn Gretsinger moderated panel discussions on topics like the moral and legal cases for safety, and there were many more conversations during networking breaks.
Congratulations to the Safety Alliance on the success of their inaugural signing. I’ll follow up and let you know how it’s going.