Vancouver Island Safety Conference still going strong

The Vancouver Island Safety Conference started in 2005 with a small group of forestry employers and safety officers. Since then, it’s grown a lot. 

Photo of woman and man in safety vests and hard hats with loaded log transporter behind them

Photo credit: © WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation
Board of B.C.), used with permission

The 14th Annual Vancouver Island Safety Conference (VISC) is coming up on Saturday, October 5, 2019 in Nanaimo, B.C. Topics for this year’s conference include change management, mental health, and substance use.

The VISC, which is geared towards the forestry sector, is a popular, industry-driven event that gives people with different roles a chance to get together and talk safety. Attendees include CEOs of large companies, union reps, workers on safety committees, and other industry partners.

“What’s great about it is that people come together because they are all passionate about safety,” says Tom Pawlowski, WorkSafeBC’s Industry and Labour Services manager for forestry. “They want to introduce safety into their workplaces, and are focused on keeping themselves and their coworkers safe.”

A conference with humble beginnings

The VISC started in 2005 in response to high fatality rate in the forestry industry. The first conference was held in Parksville with a small group of wood-harvesting employers. The following year, the conference expanded to include employers who specialized in wood products manufacturing. The VISC continued to grow in later years with the addition of people from the pulp and paper industry.

That the conference has remained popular and relevant for 14 consecutive years is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the organizers. The diverse planning committee includes representatives from labour, industry, government, the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC), and WorkSafeBC. And thanks to sponsorships from industry, admission to the VISC is free (please register online).

Mike Milholm, an occupational safety officer with WorkSafeBC, has been on the steering committee for the VISC since 2006. He’s seen first-hand how the conference gives people a good chance to network, catch up with industry news, and share safety solutions.

“Participants are really dedicated to the health and safety of their workers,” he says. “They come wanting tools they can take back to the workplace.”

Tom adds that dedication is obvious, given how many people are willing to give up their free time to attend the conference, which always takes place on a Saturday.

Powerful safety presentations available online

All past conference presentations are available online at the BCFSC website. People who can’t make the conference are encouraged to watch and use them at their workplaces. There are a lot of general health and safety presentations that would be useful for those outside of the forestry sector as well.

“People can present them at health and safety meetings — break them down into 20-minute components each month,” says Mike. “But usually people carry on and watch the whole presentation because they are so powerful.”

Each year’s post-conference summary, which includes highlights and pictures, is also available online.

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