(Canadian OH&S News) — The Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) and SAFE Work Manitoba (SWM) have teamed up to launch a new program to enhance the health and safety of workers in the trucking industry.
The initiative, titled RPM Trucking Industry Safety, was announced on Sept. 8 by Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton before a group that included Labour Minister Erna Braun, SWM chief operating officer Jamie Hall and members of MTA, the Manitoba Workers Compensation Board and the Manitoba Trucking Safety Council, according to an MTA media release.
In this case, the acronym RPM, popularly known as “revolutions per minute”, also stands for “Risk. Professionally Managed.”
“It basically is the addition of an industry-based safety association,” Dave Kramer, SWM’s portfolio leader for production, explained to COHSN. “Industry-based safety associations are pretty much germane across the board throughout the different jurisdictions. They really provide education and awareness through courses or workshops; they provide certification to a particular standard, whether it’s a provincial one or core standards for construction or Z-1000 or whatever the case may be.”
“SAFE Work Manitoba is looking at developing more industry-based safety associations, so the province’s industry can develop its own safety link, much like what construction has for COR,” said RPM program director Ed Pschulski, referring to the Certification of Recognition program for the Canadian construction sector. MTA reached out to SWM a couple of years ago regarding the need to address workplace injury in trucking, he added.
RPM will promote health and safety practices in the trucking profession by offering training, programs and advisory or consultancy support services. Manitoba sees about 1,100 injuries annually in the trucking sector, costing the industry roughly $90 million per year, according to information from SWM.
“It is a major industry in Manitoba,” said Kramer. “A lot of head offices are strategically placed in Manitoba, obviously because it’s a central location for Canada. But trucking has seen an increase in injuries, in costs, in fatalities, of motor-vehicle collisions and contact with equipment.” As a result, industry leaders have observed an increase in workers’ comp premiums over the past several years, he added, “to the point where it really caught their attention.”
Pschulski stated that one of the long-term goals of RPM is to ensure that trucking companies across the province have effective oh&s programs.
“The trucking industry has previously focused on drivers and road safety,” he noted, “and for good reason.” But RPM will take the safety procedures and practices that are already in place and incorporate them into a full spectrum of training, policies and certification, he said.
Kramer said that a current objective is to get RPM to a point at which it can fully function on its own as a safety association. “We’ve just formed, and now it’s about building capacity to deliver services to their members,” he said, “and really to refine those services to a point where they’re very strategic.” In five years, he said, he hoped to see “a safety association that is robust, that is providing services to its members where members are actively engaged and involved in the certification process.
“And I know that they have a big goal to harmonize trucking certification across the board as well, because there are a lot of jurisdictions involved.”
SWM and the development of RPM are part of the provincial government’s Five-Year Plan for Injury and Illness Prevention, which aims to launch more industry-based safety associations in Manitoba. Earlier this year, the Motor Vehicle Safety Association of Manitoba was founded as a result of the plan.
“The government in Manitoba made a commitment back in 2013,” said Kramer, “to support, acknowledge and help foster an improved network of safety associations.”