Successful members of WSPS' 2013 Safety Group have just learned they will share a $6,763,820 rebate after reducing their lost-time injury frequency rate by 12.86% and severity rate by 16.35% - in just one year. WSPS' 2014 members are on track to achieve similar results, so now's the time to sign up for 2015.
Safety Groups is a performance-based rebate program developed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Participating businesses receive rebates of up to 6% on their WSIB premiums if they collectively improve their health and safety performance.
Members' success puts premiums back into their pockets. Many re-invest these rebates, multiplying the benefits of improving safety and organizational performance.
"WSPS' Safety Group gives members tools to build a sustainable health and safety program that delivers strong results year after year," explains WSPS consultant Paul Hartford.
Running for one calendar year at a time, the program provides a forum in which members join local chapters, where they set individual health and safety goals, discuss challenges, and develop solutions. From a list of safety topics or "elements," each member selects four to initiate or improve on in their workplace. All members also work on a fifth common element. Every element is an essential component of a health and safety program.
Throughout the year, members work together on implementing their elements. WSPS consultants like Paul Hartford serve as chapter leaders, facilitating five half-day meetings and directing members to resources that can help them achieve their goals. Ongoing support includes professional advice, information, products, and services.
"What's unique about the Safety Groups program is that it's not just about creating rules and procedures," says Hartford. "It's a way of looking at how we work and engaging people in health and safety conversations throughout the year." The program promotes this by including a workplace training and communication component in each element.
"I would argue that the single greatest impact one person can have on health and safety is to keep it front and centre in conversations with senior managers, supervisors and workers. In effect, you're creating a health and safety culture."
How a health and safety culture prevents injuries
Early in Hartford's career, he worked for a company that did not conduct regular planned training, provide refresher training, or give frequent safety talks. This can have devastating effects, as he quickly learned. Shortly after he was hired, Hartford had to investigate an incident in which an unskilled new Canadian had his hand stripped to the bone by a machine that used wire brushes to remove burrs from the ends of steel tubes.
"The investigation revealed that at least three safety rules had not been followed," says Hartford:
a machine guard had been removed,
the machine remained energized during an attempt to clear a jam,
the worker was wearing gloves.
With the jam cleared, the wire brushes caught on a glove and sucked the worker's hand in. He never regained the use of that hand.
Hartford was a new production supervisor at the time, and says he was not what would be considered "competent" under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He hadn't been trained on the hazards or legislation, and because he was new he didn't understand how the machine operated or know the proper procedure for clearing jams, which learned happened regularly. "If I had known, I could have enforced safe practices, ensured the machine was properly guarded and maintained, looked out for unsafe behaviour, and had regular chats with the crew about how to work safely."
"I remember visiting the injured worker in hospital and seeing the hurt in his eyes and the eyes of his family - his wife not understanding what they would do with the rest of their life, their child not understanding why his father was hurt. It haunts me like it was yesterday."
How we can help
WSPS' Safety Group gives members the tools and resources to prevent injuries and strengthen health, safety and organizational performance. Find out more online about WSPS' 2015 Safety Group.