It's a truism that every employer wants their people to arrive home safe at the end of the day. But truisms weren't enough for JSW Manufacturing, a small, family-run metal fabrication company in Bracebridge, Ontario.
"We felt there was more we could do, but we weren't sure how to go about it," explains Eddy Whitworth, the company's health and safety coordinator. "We were looking for a road to take that would lead us to a safe working environment, and make best use of our time and effort in the process."
JSW Manufacturing started down that road by joining WSPS' Safety Group, an annual performance-based rebate program developed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
Participating firms receive rebates of up to 6% on their WSIB premiums if they collectively improve their health and safety performance. So far WSPS Safety Group members have shared in an average rebate of $7-million per year, the largest rebate of all Safety Group sponsors in Ontario.
At the beginning of the year, participating firms select, from a list of 50 items, 5 elements of a health and safety program that they think will improve their health and safety performance. The firms learn how to implement the five elements at local meetings facilitated by WSPS consultants, who share their expertise, direct the members to WSPS resources, and encourage them to contribute ideas and best practices with each other. In successive years, members choose additional elements to work on.
While earning a rebate was part of the appeal for JSW Manufacturing, says Eddy, "our goal is to build a safe environment, a safe team, a safe culture, and an effective, ongoing health and safety system. WSPS' Safety Group enables us to be part of something larger that offers us structure and guidance."
One of the elements Eddy has found particularly helpful this year is WHMIS 2015. "If we weren't part of WSPS' Safety Group, I'm not sure we would have had any idea that WHMIS is changing."
"Our experience has exceeded our expectations," continues Eddy. "In addition to the structure and guidance, we now have a network of contacts who support each other with anything that comes up between the group meetings."
"Most recently, I had a question about disposing of sand used in sandblasting. How do you go about that? You can't just take it to a landfill. Instead of wasting a day or two trying to figure out what to do, I was able to get going right away in the direction we needed to take."
WSPS consultant Kirsi Henry, who facilitates the local Safety Group chapter that JSW Manufacturing belongs to, says the company's experience demonstrates any firm can improve its health and safety performance, regardless of size, so long as they're committed. "Even though JSW Manufacturing doesn't have a full-time health and safety person, they've been steadily building a comprehensive health and safety program. They consider the JSW team as family and believe in doing what's best to protect everyone."
Find out more about WSPS' Safety Group
Check out our Safety Group web page for an overview of the program, including results from past years.
Watch a 5-minute pre-recorded webinar.
Attend a 90-minute WSPS Safety Group info session taking place this fall in a number of communities across Ontario.