New initiative aims to prevent injuries

WorkSafeBC launches graphic posters in local shake and shingle mills

These are two of seven new safety posters installed at local shake and shingle mills.

A Mission man’s idea to help prevent injuries in the shake and shingle industry has resulted in a series of graphic posters placed in local mills.

Dennis Clark has been working for nearly five years on improving workplace literacy, and in 2011 started a process between himself, Mission Literacy in Motion, the University of the Fraser Valley and WorkSafe BC to find ways to improve safety.

“Shake and shingle mills are one of the most dangerous classifications” in WorkSafe BC terms, said Clark, adding that low literacy levels are a contributing factor to many workplace accidents.

According to WorkSafe BC’s Gordon Thorne, there are seven graphic posters, and two videos, one done fully in Punjabi. The posters are placed adjacent to machines showing the correct procedure for block piling, the cuberman, inserting a block, packer lifting, shingle machine joiner saw, swing saw, and the consequences of chasing a shingle.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg for what can be accomplished for workplace literacy,” said Clark.

“One of the more unique aspects of this project is that it was industry people who drove the changes” and added that the posters would work better than written warnings, said Thorne.

“Dennis Clark was an important part of that process. He brought concerns that mills had with workers trying to understand safety literature,” said Thorne.

Clark’s years in the industry helped make the endeavour a success, as he followed up and visited 15 mills in a six-week span and found 13 had complied and mounted the posters, Thorne noted.

UFV was integral to the project’s success, said Clark, who singled out the contributions of Ian Hunt, Gloria Borrows and Sue Brigden. The university was involved in the original stakeholder process and supported the concept from the beginning, he said.

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