Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) recently celebrated a monumental day in its company’s history.
At a spring meeting last month, general managers representing more than 9,500 retail co-op employees from across the province signed the Saskatchewan Health & Safety Leadership Charter.
With the charter signing, these general managers endorsed the seven principles and Mission: Zero.
It was a proud moment for the organization. FCL was among the inaugural signings to the Charter in June 2010. Six years later, Saskatchewan retail co-operatives became the most recent signatories.
“Our goal is Mission: Zero. We don’t want any injuries at our workplaces,” explained Tom Kishchuk, FCL’s Vice-President of Operational Support. “We realize that to reach that goal it’s a journey to reduce and eventually eliminate all injuries. That’s why it’s important that we implement the right programs and follow proper procedures in everything that we do.”
“There’s definitely a different mindset in place now,” he added. “Federated Co-op made a public commitment to the charter … that belief is now carried throughout the organization.”
The commitment laid the groundwork and empowered retail managers to have conversations about their approach to health and safety programs at the workplace.
“It made us ask the question, ‘How are we doing?’” Kishchuk said. “And a lot of places will be surprised when they ask that question because a lot of people don’t know how they’re doing when it comes to health and safety.”
Workplace injuries do happen. Employees at retail co-operative businesses throughout the province regularly operate hardware tools with serrated edges (saws, hedge trimmers) or with sharp, motorized blades (food processing machines).
When handling such equipment, safety is paramount.
One way for Saskatchewan retail co-operatives to achieve Mission: Zero is through careful analysis of data provided by the Workers’ Compensation Board. The data includes stats on injury rates and time lost due to injury, any possible financial connections via rebates or surcharges on premiums, and more.
Management will first review the statistics before it is shared with health and safety support employees at FCL. From there, a health and safety advisory team will work with general managers on implementing new safety procedures, or enhancing existing ones, for retails.
Areas of consideration will include:
• What actions are needed to prevent injuries?
• Are employees trained to handle or operate potentially dangerous equipment?
• When operating such equipment, are employees wearing required protective gear?
• Are the proper guards and emergency buttons in place on certain machines?
“We want to get ahead … and prevent injuries from happening in the first place,” Kishchuk explained. “We want people to be safe when they’re at work so we don’t have any injuries.”