A commitment to health and safety is an integral part of Rack Petroleum’s success. Everyone at the Rack, as the employees and customers affectionately call it, works together to prevent injury to themselves and others. Their proactive stance on safety has a lot to do with Safety Officer Kevin McNicholls.
Safety is commonplace at the Rack. To acknowledge their commitment to safety and to Mission: Zero, Rack Petroleum signed the Saskatchewan Health and Safety Leadership Charter in 2015. “As safety leaders in our community, our intention is to promote safety and get others in the community involved in Mission: Zero,” say Kevin. “Yes, we’re promoting the company, but more importantly, we’re promoting safety.”
In Kevin’s eight years at the Rack, he has brought safety to the forefront of every employee’s activities. When Kevin first began at the Rack, he worked at the fertilizer plant for two years until he suffered a workplace injury and lost his arm. A conveyor belt tore his right arm off to the shoulder.
Four months later, when he was able to return to work, the Rack offered him the opportunity to become their safety coordinator. The Rack provided Kevin with the appropriate training and he went to work on developing the Rack’s safety program.
“Five years ago when I started in this position, I started the program from scratch,” says Kevin. “There wasn’t an organized safety program in place. We didn’t have procedures or processes in place. We didn’t even have WHMIS training. There were no set rules.”
Kevin’s first task was to provide first-aid training to all of the Rack’s employees. Before this, no one at the Rack received first-aid training. When Kevin lost his arm, as a certified first-aider, he tended to the injury himself until he was able to receive professional medical attention. Kevin knew first aid, but no one else in his workplace was trained and able to help. It was a priority for the Rack that everyone receive first-aid certification to help their coworkers if it was ever needed.
After introducing first-aid training to all Rack employees, Kevin coordinated WHMIS training, created safety checklists, developed a risk assessment and job hazard analysis process to prioritize and mitigate hazards, implemented safety meetings and introduced an employee newsletter with a focus on safety and injury prevention.
The Rack recognizes that a competent worker is a safe worker. Kevin ensures that all employees know and understand the Rack’s health and safety policy and procedures. New hires receive orientation training that includes a question and answer session with Kevin.
The Rack encourages its employees to report unsafe or unhealthy work conditions promptly, eliminate potential hazards and comply with legislation and the safe work practices and procedures established by the organization. Everyone performs daily workplace inspections including pre-operational equipment checks and personal protective equipment (PPE) checks.
The Rack has emergency response plans for each of its sites in addition to a plan approved by Transport Canada for the transportation of dangerous goods. Response plans include a 24-hour emergency response team and vehicles for every location. It also has a 24-hour emergency phone line for their customers.
Since Kevin became Safety Officer, injury rates have decreased at the Rack. “The safety program evolved from five years ago. We were on the right track,” says Kevin. “At first I thought there would be some push back from the employees because this was all new to them; but now it’s an integral part of everyone’s work.”
Each day’s commitment to safety brings the Rack one step closer to Mission: Zero. “I’m not going to say that we’re perfect, but we’ll get there,” says Kevin “The program is constantly changing and evolving. It has to. That’s how we get better and safer.”
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