Thunder Bay

Northern Ontario companies win safety awards

North American Palladium's Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay and North Bay's Nordic Minesteel Technologies both took home President's awards at the Workplace Safety North annual general meeting last week.

The Workplace Safety North President's Awards were handed out last week

Staff of Workplace Safety North congratulate staff of North American Palladium's Lac des Iles mine on winning one of their president's awards for health and safety excellence. (Workplace Safety North/supplied )

Northern Ontario businesses have claimed two of the three Workplace Safety North president's awards for health and safety excellence.

North American Palladium's Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay and North Bay's Nordic Minesteel Technologies both took home awards at the WSN annual general meeting last week.

The third winner was the Trent Valley Mill in Trenton.

"Our team is ecstatic," Lac des Iles general manager Bryan Wilson said. "It's nice to be recognized for some of the efforts that are happening here at the mine site."  

Workplace Safety North is the provincial health and safety association for the mining, forestry and paper, printing and converting sectors; converting refers to producing finished products like books and magazines from raw materials such as paper. 

Companies qualify for WSN's awards by first conducting a self-assessment along with either a worker member of the joint health and safety committee or its health and safety representative, the non profit explained in a press release. 

WSN then evaluates the statistical performance of the companies related to a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board rate group of peers. The three president's awards go to the top scorers in three areas: mining, northern Ontario business, and paper printing and converting. 

"Everybody is trying to push safety to new levels, to zero harm," Wilson said. "We just rose a little bit more than the next guys, and it's a good effort by the entire team."

The Lac des Iles workers do a lot of work analyzing and mitigating risk in the workplace, he said, including performing a risk assessment exercise every morning.

"This is really about picking one task, and the entire crew has input into what they see as the risk in that job — even though it might not be their job — and then actually help put mitigations in place for that task that's going to be completed that day."  

One risk involved in a job might be falling from heights for example, he said, so the mitigation measures would involve setting up guard rails and barricades.

"We do a lot of additional pieces," he added.  "You know, group stretching and what not ... It's about reducing workplace musculoskeletal injuries."

In addition to receiving the president's award, Lac des Iles last month marked a year with no lost time to injuries, Wilson said, "so we're actually recognizing both those at the same time."

"We are recognizing the workforce with a gift that's coming out of corporate office," he added.