Ontario is celebrating 100 years of worker health and safety in the forestry, pulp and paper industries. From September 24 to 25 in Thunder Bay, Workplace Safety North (WSN) will host a centennial conference, with the help of the Lakehead Regional Safety Council, to celebrate health and safety excellence and share the latest information and innovations.


“At the dawn of the industrial revolution, many workers endured gruelling physical labour and dangerous working conditions in factories, mines, railways, and logging camps,” says Candys Ballanger-Michaud, WSN Chief Executive Officer and conference keynote speaker. “From 1915 to 2015, Workplace Safety North and its legacy organizations have been dedicated to a single mission: to make workplaces safer.” 


“In the early 1900s, there were an alarming number of deaths and injuries. A 1915 Macleansarticle states approximately 40 to 50 workers in Ontario were injured daily, and five workers were killed every week! We’ve come a long way since then, and we’re inviting all businesses involved in Ontario’s forestry, pulp and paper industries to join us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of worker health and safety,” says Ballanger-Michaud.


“Last year, WSN had more than 20 health and safety specialists across Ontario providing businesses with almost 6,000 occupational health and safety training days on topics like core health and safety principles as well as industry-specific issues,” notes Ballanger-Michaud. 


Today, forestry health and safety training includes government-approved operator courses for highly specialized equipment used in conventional and mechanical harvesting, as well as training programs that assist mills in addressing sector-specific hazards.


For printing, paper, and converting sectors, health and safety training focuses on safe use of machinery and comprehensive supervisor training. Specific areas of concern are addressed with ergonomic leading practices, proper guarding and lockout procedures for machinery, and the importance of the Internal Responsibility System of workplace safety. 


The conference features keynote speakers, workshop training sessions, industry networking, trade show, dealer exhibit, and safety awards banquet.


Sept 24-25 Conference Highlights

•       Keynote speakers include: Candys Ballanger-Michaud, CEO at Workplace Safety North; George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer at Ontario Ministry of Labour; and Reino Pulkki, Professor at Lakehead University

•       Implementation and Configuration of Safe, Productive and Infrastructure (SPIF) vehicles – Jan Michaelson, FP Innovations

•       Leading Practices for Traffic Management Plans – Robin Lavoie, Resolute Forest Products 

•       Risk Assessment for Pulp and Paper operations – Marshall Greensides, Norampac

•       Emergency Preparedness – Ted Frisbey, Resolute Forestry Products – Woodlands

•       Current challenges, achievements in forestry health and safety – Don Jewitt, Ministry of Labour

•       Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Regulations and Applications – Adam Boczek, Sumac Geometrics

•       Awards Banquet recognizing health and safety excellence in the province

•       Health and wellness, distracted driving, WHMIS2015 and global harmonization, new Working-at-Heights legislation and training, more, with presentations from Thunder Bay Health Unit, Ontario Provincial Police

•       Register by August 30 for early bird rates