Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems (Kohltech International) in Debert, NS recently took part in a Safety Engagement Initiative with the Workers' Compensation Board of NS and the NS Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Occupational Health and Safety Division. As part of this initiative the three parties worked together to ensure the facility became compliant with current legislation and would help to support the internal responsibility system. Kohltech felt that they had made significant gains with their safety culture in the last few years but wanted to improve their safety systems to become 100% safety compliant, have fewer accidents, reduce WCB premiums and to be a leader in workplace safety in the Province of Nova Scotia. "Plus the bottom line was that it was the right thing to do for our employees so once we were presented with the opportunity we were excited to get started" added Janet Sutherland Tam, Kohltech Human Resources Manager.
In January 2014, DLAE Occupation Safety Officers toured the Kohltech production facility to complete an initial inspection and audited the company's internal responsibility system. Once the audit and inspection were completed their findings were shared with the team and "go-forward plan" was introduced. There were 35 warnings issued and Kohltech had six months to complete these actions with the expertise of the Occupational Safety Officers and WCB representatives to assist them along the way. The plan was communicated to employees and posted for all to see. Safety became a major focus at every opportunity - weekly lunchbox meetings in each department, written communications like the company newsletter and their quarterly corporate lunchbox meetings with all employees.
In April 2014 a three-month audit and inspection was completed and Kohltech was well on the way to becoming fully compliant. At this point they had approximately 80% of their warnings completed and the remainder had been started or scheduled. A WCB representative had been attending the monthly JOHSC meetings to ensure that they had a high functioning Joint Occupation Health and Safety Committee.
In July 2014 a final inspection was completed and Kohltech was successful at carrying out all requirements of this initiative. Kohltech plans to continue the momentum by keeping safety as a top priority. "As a matter of fact this year at our Employee Appreciation BBQ we had a safety theme and presented all employees with a t-shirt that says Safety is my Responsibility" said Kevin Pelley, President, "we really wanted to raise the bar with our safety programs and ensure that all of our employees know they have a role to play with our safety culture here at Kohltech. I feel confident we managed to do just that with this great initiative."
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