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How Safety Can Drive Savings

By Guy H. Broderick

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has been attracting a lot of attention lately telling us all about how its new programs will benefit your workplace. Specifically, the WSIB is promoting something called a Safety Group Program (SGP), geared for the transportation industry.

WSIB claims that if you have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) on board and implement the Safety Group Program
you’ll have a safer, happier workplace and you’ll save money. In fact, companies implementing the SGP can be eligible for a six-percent WSIB premium rebate. (Ontario’s not the only province, either. Other provinces have similar programs. Check with your own Ministries of Labour.)

SGPs are managed by leading industry-trained professionals from the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) andWSIB.
Canpar, an LTL division of TransForce Inc., and JD Smith, a family-run trucking fleet that has grown into a logistics provider 150-plus-employees strong, have both bought into SGPs. And in both cases, the move has paid handsomely.

Canpar’s Lynn Pothier said her company became part of the program back in 2001, one year after its inception. They saw it as an opportunity to build on an in-house program that they already had in place. The rebate part of the program was a big ­selling point, so there was an ­immediate buy-in from senior management.

It took a little longer to convince shop-floor ­managers and supervisors. “It did create more work for managers,” Pothier notes, adding that in the end “this is a good thing, companies are forced to examine their health and safety practices.”

“We implemented the requirement of having three ‘mandatory’ safety topics each month that I would select based on our current policies,” she says. “Another hurdle was trying to find innovative ways to measure success and evaluate the programs we were implementing, but that too worked itself out.”

JD Smith’s Loss Prevention Manager Joseph Libralesso said their biggest hurdle was time. The program was entered using existing resources with no additional staff. For one thing, he said, it’s difficult to schedule any group of drivers to be in one place at one time.

Support at JD Smith for this program was the same as it was at Canpar—right from the top down. Smith had recently achieved ISO9002 certification and the program was viewed as a means to develop the best safety ­practices in health and safety in the company.

The IHSA and WSIB ­provided training seminars for personnel and are well positioned as sponsors to the programs.

Both Pothier and Libralesso would recommend SGPs to other fleets. Pothier says such a program also gives the company a way to prove due diligence in case of a serious accident and it offers monetary rewards for raising safety program to a higher level. Both companies saw a reduction in reported injuries and collisions. Also, they improved their return-to-work programs and cut their WSIB claims.

According to Rumina DiValentin, a Safety Group Consultant at the WSIB, if you want to take advantage of the program, your company must meet certain criteria. You must:

• Be a schedule 1 firm;
• Be in good standing with WSIB;
• Have the owner or senior management team commit to the program;
• Complete the necessary forms;
• Create and nurture a safety culture in the workplace;
• Submit year-end reports verifying your action plan;
• Participate in a validation audit;
• Document all activities related to their program.

All of this information is available on both the WSIB and the IHSA websites. 

Writer Guy Broderick is a member of the Ontario Road Knights and a driver-trainer with Apps Transport Group, Brampton.

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