Innovative product makes it easier to protect employees
Alberta's construction industry has a new tool that could decrease the number of workplace injuries and fatalities and assist in compliance with government regulations. Safety in a Box™ is a safety management starter kit that can be used to implement and manage a company-wide safety program almost instantly. In 2008, the lost time incident rate for the industry was 2.02, down from 2.41 the year before. In 1997, the rate was 5.2. Safety in a Box™ offers companies an easy way to start a safety program or to simplify what they're doing already. "Over the years, we've had countless people request that we provide forms and other material in an easy-to use format, so we were well aware of the need for this type of product," says Gary Wagar, executive director, Alberta Construction Safety Association.
Reducing workloads, improving buy-in
Packed with field-ready logbooks, NCR booklets, user guide safety forms and folding cards, Safety in a Box™ contains everything small and mid-size companies need to set up and manage an effective safety program in a matter of hours. It can also reduce the workload for prime and general contractors, who can simply direct subtrades to purchase a box from ACSA before they come on site. "I used to be a construction manager and I saw the difficulties contractors had in implementing safety," says Al Head, president and founder of Safety Ahead Ltd. in Edmonton and the man who developed and designed the concept of putting a safety program in a box format. "This product gives you a standard process. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, and that's going to be very important as demographically driven labour shortages lead to rapid promotion," says Head. "When tradespeople become site superintendents, safety becomes their responsibility and they need a simple way to communicate the steps that have to be taken." Safety Ahead has worked hard to ensure that all forms, log books, and NCR booklets meet Certificate of Recognition (COR) standards and are acceptable for the Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR) program as well as the COR program. "It is an excellent concept," says Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's Minster of Employment and Immigration. "The key to any safety program is buy-in from everybody on the worksite. The easier it is to find all the information; the more likely they are to use it."
Government Steps Up Enforcement and Transparency
Safety in a Box™ which was first introduced last year, it is timely as the Government of Alberta is in the process of hiring more field officers and inspectors to improve occupational health and safety accountability and enforcement. The Government of Alberta is now trying to increase openness and transparency, as a result employer injury and fatality records are now being made public. They are also stepping up enforcement, and cracking down on employers with high injury rates or with unsafe conditions. “these are good reasons to have effective safety programs," says Lukaszuk. But those who want to play by the rules may not have the time, money or staff to ensure an effective safety program is in place. They may not even be fully aware of what they have to do. "Reading through the manual [that comes in Safety in a Box™ ], I learned a lot about my responsibilities as an employer to my employees, and what their responsibilities were to me," says Chris Burchett, owner of Sylver Technologies Inc. in Edmonton. Burchett uses contractors and wanted an easy-to-use safety program to protect them. Safety in a Box™ fits the bill. "I give the contractors the forms and explain how to fill them in. When they get the pre-job safety assessment, they go to the site and fill it in. I have a record and they have a record," he says. Burchett adds that safety is something increasing numbers of customers want to see. Wagar agrees. "When employees and customers know that safety underlies everything you do, it adds to your reputation and makes it easier to attract new staff members and clients." Safety Ahead designed Safety in a Box™ so it would meet the needs of a wide range of companies. Consequently, some companies will use everything that's included while others will pick and choose. Each box comes with a registration number that can be used to get replacement materials at a discount. The tool is meant to help companies make safety a priority. "Safety should be part of the fabric of your company and ideally it will tie into administration," says Head. "We've tried to foster that integration with inclusions like a daily report that allows you to report on the progress of the job as well as the safety status." At just $345, Safety in a Box™ is a cost-effective way to boost safety without spending a lot of time. The product can be ordered by calling the Safety Ahead office in Edmonton at 780-473-4772.