WorkSafeBC develops new self-evaluation tool for manufacturing sector

Journal of Commerce | DCN-JOC News Services | October 27, 2022

VANCOUVER – WorkSafeBC, British Columbia’s safety regulator, is introducing a new self-evaluation tool for employers in the province’s manufacturing sector to identify and address gaps in occupational health and safety programs.

B.C.’s manufacturing industry has an injury rate 24 per cent higher than the provincial average, a release said, with over 19,000 time-loss injuries in 2021, 4,000 of which were deemed serious injuries.

“The self-evaluation tool was designed to help employers identify gaps between existing risks and the current systems in place. Once these gaps are identified, the proper mitigations can be implemented to keep workers safe,” said WorkSafeBC prevention field services senior manager Barry Nakahara in the release.

The self-evaluation tool both assesses risks and evaluates existing safety management systems and programs.

WorkSafeBC has developed a multi-year Manufacturing High-Risk Strategy, part of which includes health and safety resources for employers.

The strategy aims to reduce injury rates and prevent fire and explosion events by focusing on hazards such as:

  • Combustible dust
  • Falls from elevation
  • Flammable and combustible substances
  • Hand tools
  • Material handling
  • Mobile equipment
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Power tools
  • Safeguarding and lock out
  • Slips, trips and falls

“Our high-risk strategy for manufacturing takes a risk-based approach to ensure that the most significant risks are effectively managed. As always, it’s important for employers to ensure these efforts are effectively communicated to workers, including through orientations, training, supervision, and well-supported joint health and safety committees,” Nakahara said.

WorkSafeBC found manufacturers with the highest number of injuries are  food and beverage processors, wood and paper product manufacturers, and metal and non-metallic mineral products manufacturers.

Manufacturing workers are most at risk of injury by being caught in or struck by machinery and fractures and lacerations to the fingers, hands and wrists are the most common injuries.

Fractures account for 36 per cent of serious injuries in manufacturing. Over the past three years, WorkSafeBC has accepted 853 claims for fractures in manufacturing. There are over 12,000 manufacturing employers registered with WorkSafeBC, and almost 75 per cent have fewer than 10 workers.