How eBay Enterprise stays LTI-free even during construction

Jun 08, 2015

Warehouse workersEmployees at e-Bay Enterprise's Mississauga facility have checked off almost 1900 days with no lost-time injuries despite explosive business growth and a construction program that tripled the size of the original site, all while the operation was still running. How did they do it? Attendees of WSPS' recent Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show heard the story firsthand from Shawn Heroux, the facility's manager of safety and security.

There's no mystery, he says. Instead, there's a comprehensive and continuously improving health and safety program. Contractor safety is an essential feature of the program, and the subject of this article. But first, an overview of the Mississauga operations.

e-Bay's first e-commerce fulfilment centre in Mississauga opened in 2009, at 85,000 square feet. A second centre opened in 2014. The now-consolidated operations are triple the original size, at 270,000 square feet. Heroux calculates that the fulfilment centre will handle 18 million inbound and outbound packages this year alone.

During the recent consolidation and expansion, contractors were working on almost every part of the building. They built new office space and four new mezzanines (semi-permanent floor systems), totalling 192,000 square feet. They also installed:

  • additional fire systems
  • additional conveyor capacity, now about one kilometre long
  • an air conditioner unit for the warehouse to prevent heat related illness
  • an electronic trailer dock lock system to prevent accidental trailer release

All this, without impeding business operations.

7 ways eBay keeps contractors and employees safe

Here are highlights of the contractor safety program that Shawn Heroux put in place at the Mississauga facility. The circumstances may be unique, but the principles are universal.

  1. eBay presents and reviews with contractors a guide outlining contractor-related policies, procedures and expectations.
  2. eBay separates construction activity from the "live" side of the facility to minimize hazards.
  3. eBay controls access to the site. The contractors' workers ring a bell, explains Heroux, and Security signs them in and escorts them to their work area. When their shift is over, Security escorts them out.
  4. eBay validates the workers' health and safety training (awareness training, WHMIS, fall protection, etc.) and Ontario College of Trades licenses. This takes place every time the workers sign.
  5. Contractors must identify appropriate PPE requirements for their employees and confirm they understand eBay's own PPE requirements for the facility.
  6. eBay and its contractors communicate on a daily basis. "We check on what they're doing that day, and challenge them on safety aspects of that particular work."
  7. eBay conducts frequent inspections of the construction areas to ensure compliance with its policies and procedures.

How WSPS can help you manage contractor safety

Hiring outside contractors is a reality for every business. WSPS offers two half-day courses to help you manage this process:

Our consultants can also help you create your own contractor safety program.

Here's some additional reading from the WSPS Network News archives: