Looking to create a more efficient plant and a safer work environment is the crux of what all good companies want to achieve, but striking that harmonious balance can be a difficult challenge.
On February 23 at the Mississauga Convention Centre, thanks to the Efficient Plants, Safer People seminar organized by Paper Packaging Canada, Jean-Claude Savard of J.C. Savard Consultants described to 70 key players in the Canadian paper packaging industry how they can lead the way.
“We need to re-invent the business model,” offered Savard. “The future must be redesigned with the people you have in your own business… your employees, the union leaders and the opinion leaders whom some call the company’s ‘big mouths’ are all important to the overall health of not only our company, but our industry.”
Savard notes that no matter what management thinks historically, union leaders and employees do not trust them, and the opinion leaders are mostly against management and that’s why management can have difficulty bringing these people into the game. Conversely, that’s also why he says it is imperative during difficult times to bring all three groups together with management to work as a team to re-question everything in the industry.
“Too often we manage a style of erosion where it’s simply less of the same, but we need to melt the iceberg,” says Savard. “Even unions recognize it, and while it’s not an easy proposition, it is essential.”
He told the audience that the mobilization process is often an event that could take 10 days or more, with the first few days spent convincing the participants that there is no hidden management agenda.
“The first couple of days there is still distrust, as they think there is something you (management) is hiding, with the belief that management will solve all the problems—but then pretty quickly they come to realize that they are part of the solution,” explains Savard adding that things will change from a mode of negotiation to one of cooperation.
As well, Savard notes that equipment manufacturers also need be part of the solution, wondering aloud if they were doing enough to push the envelope.
Savard also described the need for innovation—to look outside the safe confines of the industry to find technology and see if it can be adapted—mentioning nanopaper, a new super paper purported to be stronger than cast iron. He asked if the industry could challenge itself to integrate smells into the product, or create ink that disappears in 48 hours.
“The important thing is not remaining static. We need to co-create the future and re-create the potential of your fiber,” sums up Savard.
Paper Packaging Canada also booked renowned author and speaker Larry Wilson who discussed how stimulating behavioral change will produce a safer workplace. The humorous talk emphasized through audience participation that people are notoriously accident-prone.
“As soon as we are old enough to move, we can have an accident,” explains Wilson. “But, if we cause it, then we can control it.
It is Wilson’s belief that because over 90 per cent of all workplace accidents are self-imposed, rather than caused by others or from equipment malfunction, individual behavior in employees needs to be altered—but not necessarily through conventional workplace intervention meetings, but rather by getting that person’s whole family involved.
“Every worker with a family agreed that they would do anything to protect a child or spouse from an accident at the expense of their own health—but why not take that level of responsibility and use it to protect themselves?” asks Wilson.
The seminar concluded with a panel discussion involving Kevin Belisle, regional safety manager with Smurfit-MBI, Marshall Greensides, corporate health and safety coordinator for Norampac, a division of Cascades Canada Inc., and Atlantic Packaging Products‘ corporate health and safety coordinator David Hindley offer their opinions on current industry health and safety concerns. The panel members agreed that each company needs to minimize strains and sprains amongst its workforce, because of the cost of lost labor. Each organization should also analyze their individual company data.
Belilse says that each company will analyze the accident data to discover potential problem areas, and once exposed, remove them. “We found that 38 per cent of our injuries are from our maintenance department. So after performing a risk assessment, we are trying to resolve the problem.”
All agreed that having greater management involvement with the floor personnel is important to discovering problems.
Hindley explains: “We need to do more formal inspections, whether it’s quarterly or more frequently. We need to make it more of a shop floor inspection rather than an upper-level inspection.”
When asked to offer an example of a safety initiative planned by his company in 2010, Greensides noted that better inter-departmental communication is important.
“Some of our plants might already have successfully created best-practices for concerns another plant is going through now. But by bringing plants together to share best practices, well there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to work together.”
For more information on Paper Packaging Canada, visit www.paperpackaging.ca.