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BC Ferries programs make health and safety a daily priority for the whole crew

Published on: November 19, 2018

Melanie Lucia, Executive Director of Catering and Terminal Operations at BC Ferries, offers three examples of programs used by BC Ferries to support young workers and ensure safety is a priority for the entire crew. Their basic principles can easily be adapted for any workplace.

BC Ferries health and safety training and peer support programs support young workers’ success

Support for young workers 

Peer support program
In the peer support program, Melanie explains, “Experienced mentors provide a sounding board for career discussions and work problems. Young workers can often feel intimidated about asking questions of their managers or supervisors. Having a peer mentor they can talk to provides another avenue to ensure they can ask anything and have their questions answered by a more experienced peer.”

Young worker safety action plan
The young worker safety action plan includes daily five-minute briefings where the teams learn about the plan for the day, and ensure that break times are properly managed.

“When front-line staff know that everything is planned and on schedule,” Melanie says, “they are far less likely to rush.”

The plan also includes a safety enhancement checklist, with a breakdown of tasks, their potential hazards, and details of how to complete the task correctly. The final step sees the new employee demonstrating the task to ensure they understand the process. Safety leaders oversee this program, providing oversight and feedback to new and young workers.

ALERT (All Learning Events Reported Today) program
Melanie describes the ALERT program as “a process where employees document hazards as they encounter them, and are encouraged to take steps to control the hazard, report it to a supervisor, and work together towards a permanent solution. The ALERTS are shared company-wide, new ones are posted weekly at worksites, and unresolved ALERTS are reviewed monthly by the safety committee.”

The committee also checks in with the worker who reported the hazard to ensure that the actions taken addressed the concern appropriately. Every employee is trained to use the ALERT system and they can access the details of all of the resolved ALERTs.

Integrate health and safety into your everyday operations

Melanie has three key recommendations for integrating health and safety into your everyday operations:

  • Include health and safety in your company’s strategic plan.
  • Reinforce your company’s health and safety values in all workplace communications.
  • Make worker health and safety a core value; not a priority, but a value, because priorities can change.

Melanie’s early work experience makes her a strong advocate for formal health and safety programs in the workplace. “A serious workplace injury or death changes lives forever — for families, friends, communities, and co-workers, too. Every person who leaves for work in the morning should expect to return home at night in good health — that is the most important reason to create a healthy and safe work environment.”

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