Cascades Tissue Group Q&A: Chantal Chabot


Title: Regional Health & Safety Coordinator

Office: Candiac, Quebec, Canada

Years in your current position: 13 years as a Health & Safety Coordinator for Cascades Tissue Candiac’s mill and 4 years as Regional Health & Safety Coordinator for Cascades Tissue Group (Corporate).

What do you do in your position? In my position, I provide guidance and support to the Tissue Group facilities in Quebec in their efforts to improve workplace safety. This involves everything from supporting regional and site leadership in the development and implementation of programs (such as a lockout, confined space, work at height, etc.) to minimizing employee exposure to risks and improving safety culture, all while ensuring compliance to Health & Safety (H&S) standards as well as regulatory and corporate requirements.

Throughout the year, I led several workshops, including H&S audits and culture workshops. I routinely work with my team or Cascades Inc. (H&S ressources for all Cascades) to develop work instructions and guidelines. Working alongside the General Manager, we conduct three H&S assessments per year in each facility to follow up on their issues, progress and accomplishments, as well as reviewing their performance to provide adequate coaching and ressources.

How did you arrive at your position? What path brought you here? I started my career at Cascades in the HR department. Cascades believed in me and granted me the opportunity to follow training and coaching in Health & Safety to take on the H&S Coordinator role for the facility. Four years later, I was promoted to my current role. I have worked in H&S for 17 years and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of our accomplishments.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as Regional Health & Safety Coordinator? One of the biggest challenges I face is fostering the same maturity in H&S culture in my mills. Every facility has its own culture and best practices, others stand out in their levels of employee involvement and leadership. These best practices, although shared with facilities, do not always yield the same results. Finding and implementing impactful processes that make a difference and improve the culture is the challenge.

Can you give some examples of how you communicate safety? When it comes to communicating safety, we make every effort to keep all of our employees in the known. In every mill department, there is a daily crew meeting with employees where safety issues and precautions can be discussed. We have also launched a safety interaction’s program where employees acknowledge each other’s safe work practices and correct their unsafe or at-risk behaviors. The interaction program between all employees is a proactive approach to incident prevention. Lastly, we announce Safety Alerts. These alerts are broadcast to employees after an event has occurred in a mill and include information on corrective measures that other plants can use to prevent a similar event from taking place.

What are the top three safety hazards workers face in an industrial facility? Slips, trips & falls as well as hand and head injuries (cuts) are some of the top safety hazards we face.

Which cleaning products should companies have on hand to encourage worker safety? Products that are less hazardous and environmentally friendly, not just because it’s important for Cascades, but also because we care for the wellbeing of our employees and the planet!

How do companies develop training programs for employee safety? How often should these programs be reviewed? At Cascades, we start by identifying the needs and defining the training objectives. We then work on developing the training content with the target audience in mind; and then roll it out. In the Tissue Group, we have internal trainers, external firms and training platforms, such as "SST en ligne" and SucessFactors, to help develop and provide the training.

We review all training programs at least every 3 years to ensure they are adequate and still meet our required needs. Additionally, we have an audit program to confirm the comprehension and skills of our workers to determine if updates are necessary.

What are some best practices to enforce safety when handling chemicals? Cleaning and maintenance staff come in contact with a wide range of chemicals in their daily tasks, including bleach products, degreasers and sanitizers. If you haven’t already made the switch to greener alternatives, odds are your cleaning products have the potential to harm employees if handled and used improperly. Improper exposure to chemicals from cleaning products have been found to cause coughing, skin rashes, headaches and lungs damages, so it’s important that your cleaning staff receive thorough training on the cleaning products they use. All chemicals and cleaning products should be clearly labeled and Safety Data Sheets readily available so that the staff knows exactly what materials they are handling, what precautions need to be taken and where to look for additional safety information.

When an employee mixes and dilutes liquid cleaning solutions or transfers a chemical from a tote to a smaller container, it can be easy for a spill or splash to occur. Cleaning staff should be trained to refer back to the Safety Data Sheets if they have any concerns about how to handle and clean up a specific product. They will find clear instructions outlining what personal protective equipment (PPE) is required (including gloves, goggles and clothing) and clean-up procedures.

Additionally, if a spill or splash results in physical harm to cleaning staff, all staff should know how to address the situation in a timely manner.

Ideally, all personnel handling chemicals must be trained in safe handling procedures of the specific chemicals in their work area and the associated procedures. We review these requirements in the chemical section of our H&S annual audit.

Slips, trips and falls are a leading cause of workplace injuries in industrial settings. What can be done to prevent this? A clean, organized manufacturing plant or warehouse is often found to be more efficient, more productive and safer. Some organizations may task their in-house employees with the upkeep of the facility, whereas others may employ an outside cleaning service to handle the cleaning and maintenance process.

Outside cleaning crews will not be as familiar with the inner workings of a facility as an in-house employee, so they’ll require an extensive amount of training before they start. Critical to that training will be an emphasis on staying safe on the plant or warehouse floor.

The Tissue Group requires all mills to conduct a monthly housekeeping audit. We have a section in our annual H&S audit on housekeeping and slips, trips and falls to encourage our mills to continuously increase their actions to be proactive and reduce events.

Are there any safety initiatives that you are currently working on? Cascades (with the participation of H&S members from each Group) developed a Zero Harm Health and Safety vision and mission with commitment of the executive leadership team. All Cascaders have been invited by our CEO, Mario Plourde, to formalize their commitment to H&S by signing the engagement poster. We also developed an H&S induction video for all Cascades employees to ensure the minimum safety standards and required personal protection equipment are applied throughout Cascades.

We emphasize and encourage the daily crew meetings, interactions and risks analysis programs because we are convinced these programs have a big impact on reducing events in our facilities. Employees are highly involved in each of these programs.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? We are very proud to say that last year, Cascades Tissue Group finished with its lowest OSHA frequency and severity rates. Now, we are focused on maintaining our achievements and on improving where necessary.

Source: Cascades PRO