More than 50 Unifor members in the pulp and paper sector in Western Canada are meeting from February 27 to March 1 to report on local health and safety work.
Health, Safety, and Environment Director Sari Sairanen was present to welcome the delegates to Vancouver, outline the department’s work over the past year, and discuss recent workplace fatalities and other current issues.
“The Health & Safety Department is committed to advancing safety in pulp and paper mills and Unifor will continue to advocate for positive changes in occupational health and safety legislation across B.C. and Alberta,” said Sairanen. “Pulp and paper mills have their own unique challenges, which is why learning from each other about how to consistently tackle common problems is important.”
During the reports, delegates discussed asbestos exposure, the need to properly train new workers to replace retiring ones, and the importance of taking a greater role in accident investigations.
On the second day, members reviewed safety procedures for “guarding” (placing guards or fences to block access to rollers or machines) and confined space training. Both are dangerous aspects of working in pulp and paper mills. Locals also heard a report from a Canadian Standards Association representative about changes to standards that affect the sector.
The third day of the conference was open to members of the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC, formerly the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada). Unifor and the PPWC bargained jointly for the most recent round of negotiations to secure the western pulp and paper pattern agreement. During this week’s conference, that cooperation extended to prioritizing health and safety in western mills.