Safety in the Canadian Pulp and Paper Industry: A digital revolution

Written by Emilie Filion, MBA November 24, 2017

Canada’s pulp and paper industry directly employs more than 61,000 workers, generates $3.5 billion in wages and salaries(1), and yields more than $17 billion in exports(2). As such, protecting the employees and contractors who do dangerous work is not only an employer’s ethical obligation, but a goal that has strong economic rationale as well.

Over time, through innovation, trial, and error, the pulp and paper industry has made vital upgrades to protect workers and make them more physically secure at manufacturing and processing plants.

Some of the innovations resulting from the digital revolution are forcing the paper industry to adjust their business planning and strategies. However, the same progress in technology is also making it possible for manufacturers to mitigate health and safety risks more easily, especially those related to outsourcing.


forestry-wood.jpgContracting or outsourcing is uniquely challenging because these workers are not immersed in the company’s safety culture, nor do they always have one of their own. Employers must take extra measures and caution to ensure that contractors are fully qualified and trained in safety measures, and are also enforcing these important controls and procedures when they hire subcontractors.

Without significant, time-consuming administrative effort, there is no way to guarantee that these subcontractors are selected from a pool of fully trained, qualified workers who maintain their certifications current and in good standing.

Ensuring all outside workers are as safe and secure on a job site as employees means continuous oversight. It requires managers to routinely complete detailed safety performance interviews with each outside worker; conduct regular skills and documentation audits to ensure they remain current with regulations and certifications; institute mandatory analysis of all risk hazards before a job is started; and, create a way for all workers to add to a near-miss database by regularly reporting any ongoing hazards. Lack of a strong safety framework can have major consequences on plant operations, exposing workers to preventable health hazards and the company to major liabilities and reputational risk.

 

How technology can help

On the other hand, verifying worker profiles is itself incredibly time consuming, unwieldy, and often cost-prohibitive. The digital revolution, while in many ways an adversary of the paper industry, can be an important ally in minimizing costs associated with profile verifications, and greatly simplifying the process. Over time, this not only protects the organization, but also saves lives.

The pulp and paper industry will continue to contend with the digital economy. However, when it comes to safety, manufacturers can use technological advancements to minimize unnecessary expenditures and mitigate business risks. Ultimately, making safety a top priority requires a culture shift. This new way of thinking puts risk-management related to outsourcing at the centre of corporate strategy.

A Canadian leader in risk management and contractor compliance, Cognibox offers one of the most flexible, comprehensive solutions on the market. More than 125 organizations in North America use Cognibox to manage contractor risks specific to their sector activity.

Our turnkey solution provides a combination of expertise, software, training as well as a full spectrum of outsourcing services and administrative support.

  1. https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/statsprofile/employment/ca
  2. http://www.fpac.ca/canadian-forestry-industry/forest-products/
Complete Guide: How to manage outsourcing efficiently
Emilie Filion, MBA
Emilie Filion, MBA

To align strategy, people and processes; deliver projects and results; build for success, solidly and sustainably: this is her purpose. With Cognibox for nearly 10 years, Emilie specializes in the management of large-scale projects, as well as market development. Sincere, results-oriented and highly ethical, Emilie’s expertise has her guiding multinational companies as they evolve their business practices to reduce workplace accidents and to achieve the highest standards of health and safety. Recognized for her insatiable need for learning, for stepping out of her comfort zone and for rising to every challenge, Emilie is a leader who brilliantly manages each of her projects.

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Canada’s pulp and paper industry directly employs more than 61,000 workers, generates $3.5 billion in wages and salaries...

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