OHS Canada Magazine

WorkSafeBC develops new safety resource for manufacturing sector


October 12, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety british columbia manufacturing WorkSafeBC

Manufacturing in British Columbia has an injury rate that is 24 per cent higher than the provincial average, according to WorkSafeBC.

In 2021, there were more than 19,000 time-loss injuries in the manufacturing sector in B.C. and close to 4,000 of these were serious injuries.

To help prevent injuries in manufacturing, WorkSafeBC has established a multi-year Manufacturing High-Risk Strategy. As part of this strategy, WorkSafeBC develops health and safety resources to help employers better understand and address health and safety issues.

The latest resource is a new self-evaluation tool for manufacturing workplaces that includes a set of checklists to help employers and supervisors identify, control, and manage risks.

“The self-evaluation tool was designed to help employers identify gaps between existing risks and the current systems in place,” said Barry Nakahara, Senior Manager, Prevention Field Services at WorkSafeBC. “Once these gaps are identified, the proper mitigations can be implemented to keep workers safe.”

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The tool takes a two-pronged approach to risk management: Assessing risks, and then evaluating existing safety management systems and programs.

WorkSafeBC stresses that for the tool to be most effective, the entire workplace needs to be involved in using the tool — including managers, supervisors, front-line workers, and members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee.

Manufacturing high-risk strategy

WorkSafeBC’s high-risk strategy for manufacturing through 2023 aims to reduce injury rates — and prevent fire and explosion events — by focusing on known hazards, including:

  • Combustible dust
  • Falls from elevation
  • Flammable and combustible substances
  • Hand tools
  • Material handling
  • Mobile equipment
  • Musculoskeletal injuries (MSI)
  • Power tools
  • Safeguarding and lock out
  • Slips, trips and falls

Our high-risk strategy for manufacturing takes a risk-based approach to ensure that the most significant risks are effectively managed,” said Nakahara. “As always, it’s important for employers to ensure these efforts are effectively communicated to workers, including through orientations, training, supervision, and well-supported joint health and safety committees.”

Key facts

  • Manufacturers with the highest number of injuries are food and beverage processors, wood and paper product manufacturers, and metal and non-metallic mineral products manufacturers.
  • Manufacturing workers are most at risk of injury by being caught in or struck by machinery — with fractures and lacerations to the fingers, hands and wrists being the most common injuries.
  • Fractures account for 36 per cent of serious injuries in manufacturing. Over the past three years, WorkSafeBC has accepted 853 claims for fractures in manufacturing.
  • There are over 12,000 manufacturing employers registered with WorkSafeBC, and almost 75 per cent have fewer than 10 workers.
  • In 2021, WorkSafeBC prevention officers conducted a total of 7,934 inspections, resulting in 6,120 orders. A total of 19 penalties were imposed on manufacturing employers.
  • Topics related to the manufacturing high-risk strategy include combustible dust, de-energization & lockout, safeguarding, and high-risk strategy industry initiatives.
  • October is Manufacturing Month in Canada.

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