Maintaining a healthy and safe work environment is one of the most fundamental concerns faced by waterfront employers in British Columbia. Since its inception in 2008, the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA)’s Certificate of Recognition program has helped companies with this important issue by guiding them through improvements in workplace safety practices. The Certificate of Recognition (COR) program is a safety management system (SMS) program developed by WorkSafeBC that encourages employers to voluntarily develop and improve health, safety, and injury management systems.
The BCMEA is a certifying partner with WorkSafeBC, having been recognized as an association with in-depth industry knowledge and the ability to positively promote health and safety. As a certifying partner, the BCMEA COR Program provides an array of services to those employers that operate on the waterfront in British Columbia. The BCMEA is responsible for facilitating the program, developing audit standards and materials, marketing, training, and supporting employers throughout all stages of the certification process while providing quality assurance.
In 2011, the BCMEA COR program took an important step forward by signing a reciprocity agreement with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC). Through the reciprocity agreement, the two certifying partners recognize equivalencies between their audit standards, which allows for an employer who has completed a successful COR audit through the BCFSC program to receive recognition from the BCMEA and vice versa. This allows companies that operate in both industry sectors to receive dual certifications by performing a single audit.
In early November, Terry Bertram, manager of Safety Systems with the BCMEA, made a trip to Vancouver Island to meet with the first two employers certified through the reciprocity agreement. Bertram met first with Tammy Beaulieu from Pacific Cachalot in Campbell River. During their discussions, Beaulieu emphasized the benefits the COR process has had for her firm. She noted that although their SMS was already in place, the COR process gave it a more formalized structure which improved the organization of health and safety documentation and in turn, also resulted in improvements demonstrating the firm’s due diligence. Participating in the COR process created greater staff involvement through increased communications regarding health and safety matters. Staff input was another highlight mentioned by Beaulieu, in that it resulted in more efficient forms and methods in relation to health and safety matters.
Bertram also met with Laurence Read, Elizabeth Zehanoviz, and Bob Wilson from Jones Marine Services in Chemainus. Read led the audit team and revealed to the BCMEA some of the benefits that participating in the COR Program had on their operation. The COR process gave a more formalized structure to their existing SMS which improved the organization of health and safety documentation and in turn, also resulted in some operational efficiencies. Read provided an example of increased efficiency in the area of effectively tracking ship deficiencies and repairs through the use of corrective action log (CAL) documentation. He also explained how the introduction of toolbox meetings (referred to as a “huddle”) has resulted in increased safety awareness. Using the example of working on a chip barge, he discussed how crews would communicate the hazards that might be encountered while boarding, what equipment would be required for the tasks aboard, what duties the personnel would each have, and positions to take while aboard. Read explained that the experience of conducting a COR audit has led to an increased interest and appreciation of safety matters and their implementation in the workplace.
The BCMEA COR initiative recognizes and rewards employers who demonstrate their leadership by going above and beyond the legal requirements of the applicable health and safety and injury management regulations. Employers that have strived to meet the program standards have achieved greater success in reducing the human and financial costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. For more information on the BCMEA COR program and the reciprocity agreement with the BC Forest Safety Council, please visit www.bcmeacor.com or contact Terry Bertram at 604-688-1155.