Nanaimo best in B.C. for safety management

Nanaimo was recognized Monday for reaching the highest level of safety management system a city has achieved in British Columbia.

Nanaimo was recognized Monday for reaching the highest level of safety management system a city has achieved in British Columbia.

From front-line workers to the city manager’s office, the B.C. Municipal Safety Association cited Nanaimo as having “the highest standard of achievement” in 2010 for a safety program that took two years to develop for the 600-plus workers.

Cathy Cook, executive director of the safety association, said earning the certificate of recognition requires a great deal of dedication by all city departments and council.

“Safety management systems are not easy to develop,” said Cook. “It’s a lot of commitment at every level of an organization and what it shows by passing the core audit is that the occupational health and safety of [Nanaimo’s] workers has become a culture within the organization.”

Nanaimo was the sole recipient of the provincial award after passing a two-week in-depth audit of each department with a score of 93 per cent, the highest audit score to date. The effort will not only keep city workers safer, it will cost the city less in WorkSafe B.C. premiums.

“It was really a rewarding process,” said Rick Kroeker, Nanaimo’s manager for occupational health and safety. “The certificate is good for three years, which allows for a 10 per cent cash rebate each of those three years on WorkSafe B.C. premiums.”

Kroeker said some of the eight criteria measures that needed to be met included inspection and safety activities for all departments, program administration and staff commitment to the program.

From that award stemmed another, this time from the BCMSA and the B.C. Common Ground Alliance, which recognizes local governments for activities that improve ground disturbance, safe excavation techniques and best practice at or around underground infrastructure.

In 2010, city crews performed eight kilometres of excavations at 300 dig locations, as well as 1,500 requests to locate underground services (FortisBC does not assist the city with locating underground gas lines).

Kroeker said one gas line was hit last year.

“We lead with our safety record in excavations in the self-nomination process,” he said.

Nanaimo is the sole recipient for the City of Excellence award, which was presented Monday by B.C. Common Ground Alliance executive director Dave Baspaly.

“There was some heated competition this year for the award,” said Baspaly of the second annual award, which went to Vancouver last year.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said staff and council place safety as a high priority for all city workers.

“We’re committed to having as safe a workplace as possible,” he said. “The city developed a comprehensive plan to become [Certificate of Recognition] certified a few years ago as part of that commitment. This a result of hard work and countless hours of dedication by city staff and the participation of every department.”