One More Load: Building a safer workplace

New toolkit now available for the aggregate industry.
Geoff Geddes, ASGA
December 06, 2017
By Geoff Geddes, ASGA
December 6, 2017 - Companies constantly strive to make their businesses more productive and efficient.


But developers of a new toolkit for the aggregate industry say that streamlining the worksite means nothing if you don’t do something else first: Make it safer.

Following a creative sentence charge against an industry member (Stony Valley Contracting) in 2016, an opportunity arose for the Alberta Sand & Gravel Association (ASGA) Safety Committee to collaborate with that member and Alberta's Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S).

Based on input from aggregate companies, the three parties set out to build a safety toolkit for the benefit of industry workers throughout the province.

TEN HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE 
Each committee member took a different safety topic and gathered information on it.

They looked at everything from regulatory standards for crushers to the finer points of safety procedures that could form a blueprint for safe crusher operations.

At the conclusion of that process, the committee wound up with a two-inch binder that had to be transformed into a comprehensive, easy-to-use safety manual.

That was easier said than done, but with help from Occupational Health & Safety, the committee obtained a provincial government grant and hired a technical writer to begin the process.

The writer then received a crash course on crushing operations when Woodhouse flew him out to their facility this spring.

READING, WRITING, RETAINING
While it was a good start, challenges lay ahead.

According to Kent Santo, ASGA Safety Committee chair, the main hurdle was terminology. Since the writer wasn’t from the industry, the committee needed to work closely with him to ensure the wording was accurate and clear.

The language used was critical in reaching everyone from frontline workers to managers and helping them absorb a lot of information. In Santo’s eyes, the alternative was a final product that “people would just use as a paperweight”.

That focus on usability was shared by Wayne Woodhouse, owner of Stony Valley Contracting, who said they tried to design something that small or medium-size companies could employ as a launch point for starting or expanding their own safety program. For that, they needed material that was familiar and relevant to the industry.

MILES TO GO BEFORE THEY SLEEP
Making it all happen has involved a lot of late nights for the writer and considerable back and forth with the committee.

The next step is an intensive editing session where everyone can offer feedback and make revisions as a group. Once finalized, the toolkit will be placed on the ASGA member website for easy access.

The ASGA safety committee is also looking at a fee structure to share the resource with non-members in the indsutry.

It has been a long journey to this point, but with the end in sight, Santo feels the final product will be worth the work.

Especially gratifying is how industry, government and the ASGA teamed up to promote safety and protect workers, which shows a real commitment to safety and a willingness to educate the membership.  

And just as knowledge of safe practices continues to evolve, so too will the Aggregate Industry Safety Toolkit.

It’s a resource that can be updated as needed and represents a strong foundation for safety that will only get stronger in the years to come.

Geoff Geddes is the communications coordinator for the Alberta Sand & Gravel Association. For more inforamtion on ASGA and its initiatives, visit www.asga.ab.ca.


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