Barwick mill nabs award for safety

Sarah Pruys

The Ainsworth mill in Barwick celebrated being “One Year Recordable Free” yesterday—something the workers are very proud of.
On March 14, the mill officially went one year without having any injuries occur.
This was not only impressive for the local mill, but also for the Ainsworth company.
The Barwick mill was the first to reach this goal, although one in Grand Prairie, Alta. also has now accomplished this.
“It’s a major milestone for us,” Barwick mill president Jim Lake said as he presented the award to Jordie Rheault, site manager, and Sandra Tucker and Roger Gerhard, co-chairs of the safety committee.
Times have changed and now there is a “culture where it is no longer acceptable to have injures,” Lake added.
Ainsworth mills were “averaging an injury every 27 days,” but the Barwick operation wanted to have no injuries at all.
“Safety became a catapult to help us address everything we do, as far as attention to detail to caring about individual employees and teammates, equipment, and the product,” Lake said.
“Customers say Barwick is their top supplier,” he added.
Lake also lauded his employees, noting “you’ve set the standard and now others are following.”
“We’ve done it in a short amount of time,” he said.
“It is something to be proud of,” echoed business safety manager Bob Swing.
“It’s a real success,” he enthused. “People aren’t suffering and their families aren’t suffering.
Swing added they’ve become more efficient and more effective as an overall company.
“We aligned leadership and got a common vision,” he noted. “And then as everybody starts to execute that vision, you bring in tools and you remove barriers.
“So people really thrive, and look out for one another and take care of the little things,” he stressed.
Swing cited the “Above Board Safety” program, which began about a year ago, as being instrumental in making the workplace safer.
“It was an initiator that helped with the process of leadership alignment and the common vision,” he explained.
Rheault said they began by asking, “Do you believe it’s possible to work injury-free?”
“We [then] rolled out ‘Above Board Safety,’” he noted.
“You have to know things are going to happen,” he reasoned. “You stop before things happen. You think about what is going to happen. You plan for things to happen.
“And then you act in a way that when it does happen, none of it gets on you and you go home safely.
“Do you believe you can work injury-free? I believe it,” added Rheault.
“We did it once—let’s do it again.”
Robin Dennis, Human Resources co-ordinator at the Barwick mill, said the plant will continue to work towards maintaining its high safety standards.
Before the official presentation, she said, “We did talks for all of our crews,” she noted before yesterday’s official presentation.
“This is to give the crews, and all of us, more in-depth knowledge on the direction of where the company is going . . . as far as our industry and mainwtaining our safety standards.”
The company is holding a fish fry for each of their four crews for being one year recordable free.
In addition, team members all received a gift card “for their efforts in keeping each other safe so they can go home every night to their families,” said Dennis.
“They had a choice of Tompkins, Walmart, or Canadian Tire.
“That was for all of us that work at the mill, it was a nice recognition,” she added. “We can reward people for safe behaviour, and for being a part of the Ainsworth-Barwick mill community.
“It becomes a work-focused family when you’re here every day,” Dennis reasoned.
“The management team have done a lot of innovative changes to the structure of the systems to make us more safety aware, and push all of us in the same direction,” she noted.