Monday, December 10, 2018

Safeguarding Trends from 2018

Here are the trends we saw in safeguarding for 2018.

Proactive versus Reactive:  We often tell people when we started this business all of our work was from improvement orders or incidents at facilities.  We are very proud to say that has swung to a more balanced number.  People are working on identifying hazards and risk before a near miss or worse an incident occurs.  Perhaps its people understanding that the cost of an incident is much more than the claim.

How can you be proactive?  Start with educating your workers on hazards and risks.

Improved Risk Assessments:  They are improving as more and more people get involved.  Having more people involved with risk assessments can often be viewed as a negative, as the time taken looks to be increaded.  But with a continued focus on doing good risk assessments and working the hierarchy of controls from the top, companies are seeing stronger and stronger solutions.

How can you improve your risk assessments? Make sure you look at all non-routine tasks for hazards and risks that don't happen everyday.

Strengthening of Machine Programs: With the Safe Work Certified program, people are realizing that having a strong program can be financially rewarding.  A structured program is easier to sustain and continuously improve.  With a baseline established that meets the regulatory requirements.

How can you strengthen your machine program?  Start with risk assessments for each major piece of equipment.

Looking forward to 2019!


Friday, November 09, 2018

Project Spotlight: Metal Shear

Last week we performed a machine safeguarding assessment on a hydraulic shear. A shear is a powered machine used to cut sheet metal. When activated, typically by a foot pedal, it clamps the material and a moving blade descends across a fixed blade to shear/cut the material. The main hazards on a shear are the pinch between the material clamps and amputation from the shearing blade.

The most common safeguarding control found on a shear is a fixed guard installed across the front opening of the machine. Most guards have wide openings or clear polycarbonate to allow the worker to see past and some even have lights installed behind them for increased visibility. While it is very common to see shears equipped with this type of guard, it is also very common to find that the openings in the guards do not meet the recommended safe distance from CSA. Improper guard design will allow workers hands to reach the pinch points of the clamps or the shearing point of the blade. To check your shear guard openings, use the table provided in CSA Z432-16: Safeguarding of Machinery or your “gotcha stick”.

These are not the only hazards found on shears and every machine is different. Ensure that a qualified, cross-functional team performs a task-based risk assessment on your shears to identify all hazards and choose appropriate safeguarding controls. For further help with machine assessments contact us today or visit


shear guard

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Company Spotlight: Jeld-Wen Windows

Jeld-Wen is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of windows and doors. They have a massive facility in Winnipeg which takes up a full city block. The Winnipeg facility is the only Jeld-Wen facility in the world that manufacturers all three product lines – windows, exterior doors and interior doors. Jeld-Wen has an impressive safety program and following a serious injury in 2013, they have been diligently working with us to improve their machine guarding. So, it was a no-brainer when they joined the WESguard app last year to help them more easily track and manage their machine safety initiatives. Since then they have improved their machine risk score by over 10% and are only a few tasks away from eliminating their high-risk machines; not a small feat for a facility with almost 400 pieces of equipment.

Most recently Jeld-Wen graciously offered to host our Mastering Machine Risk Assessment course on October 2. Students from workplaces across Manitoba were invited to their Winnipeg facility to learn the theory behind machine risk assessments and to participate in shop floor exercises. Topics covered included how risk assessments influence guarding decisions, the importance of stakeholder involvement and detailed instruction on the CSA/ISO risk assessment model and risk factors. The highlight of the course is the team exercise where students work together to develop a detailed risk assessment on a production machine. They observed the operation of a window frame welder and had the opportunity to talk to operators and maintenance personnel to ensure their risk assessment was detailed and accurate. Students were successful in identifying a multitude of activities and hazards, not just the most common operational tasks, and provided Jeld-Wen with some unique safety solutions based not only on their learnings but also their varied backgrounds and fresh perspectives.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Jeld-Wen for hosting Mastering Machine Risk Assessments. If you are interested in this or any of our other machine safety courses, contact us today.

jeldwen machine

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Company Spotlight: Behlen Industries

Behlen Industries is no stranger to machine guarding improvements. They have become a machine safety leader in Manitoba ever since they were thrust into the subject in 2011 following an inspection from a Workplace Safety & Health officer. What started off as a single improvement order, quickly turned into a blanket improvement order and they developed a full-throttle plan involving continual improvements on three machines at a time until their entire facility was complete.

Their health and safety manager, Warren Clark, became an overnight expert in CSA Z432: Safeguarding of Machinery and contracted multiple machine safety engineers, millwrights and electricians to work on improvements to their fleet of older equipment. It became the main safety focus of the company for many years and they employed numerous tools and software to help organize and collaborate across the organization.

A couple years ago they joined WESguard, an online application developed by Workplace Engineering Solutions. WESguard gives Behlen the ability to have an easily accessible inventory of all their equipment, safety audits and improvement tasks and anyone within the organization can access and collaborate within it. As they are reaching the point where most of their equipment is fully guarded, Behlen continues to use WESguard to ensure they sustain a high level of machine safety compliance through routine inspections and assessments on newly procured equipment. They also find that WESguard provides the information needed to show they are doing their due diligence to keep their workers safe every day. Behlen’s health and safety coordinator, Al Trotz, promotes that “WESguard is easy to use and practical; it’s a great tool for any workplace to keep a detailed inventory of their machines”.

Warren Clark and Al Trotz from Behlen along with Mike and Kristin from Workplace Engineering Solutions presented their machine safety success to a full house at the Made Safe Quarterly meeting in Brandon on September 6, 2018. Participants were given a detailed tour of Behlen’s production process and were able to see the vast amount of machine safety implementations throughout their shop floor. They also saw a preview of the WESguard free trial process and learned about the benefits provided to Made Safe members.

"WESguard provides a framework that simplifies the process for assessing machine hazards and performing risk assessments.  The workflow is neatly organized and helps ensure you are assessing all the requirements.  You can manage action items in such a way that doesn’t require multiple meetings to get an update on where people are at with their assigned items.  Program administrators have easy access to current state and any outstanding action items." - Warren Clark

If you missed the Made Safe meeting, but would like more information on how the WESguard free trial can help you manage your machine safety program, please visit or contact us at

Press brake Guard


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Labour Shortage - The Need to Encourage Women into Manufacturing


A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Women in Manufacturing initial stakeholder meeting hosted by CME, where the goal is to increase the number of women working in manufacturing. Some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why does it matter where women work?”. There are more great reasons than you may think other than the obvious one of breaking down gender barriers. The number one issue reported by manufacturers in CME’s 2016 Management Issues Survey is a severe shortage of skilled workers. To fill this shortage, we will need an increase in both male and female workers into the manufacturing sector.


You may be wondering just how large is this gap of women workers in the manufacturing sector? Here’s a few interesting stats published by CME.


  • Women represent only


                 - 4.4% of jobs in industrial, electrical and construction trades


                 - 4.5% of jobs in maintenance and equipment operation trades


                 - 8.3% of jobs in transportation and heavy equipment operation


                 - 15.7% of jobs in machine operation

  • The share of manufacturing jobs held by women has not changed in over thirty years.
  • The number of young women entering manufacturing has been decreasing over the last thirty years, from 34% to only 25%.



Women aged 15 - 24 working in manufacturing

Source: CME Summary Paper: Untapped Potential - Attracting and engaging women in Canadian manufacturing


So, what can be done to close the gender gap? That is what the Women in Manufacturing Action Group is working on. Since its establishment in 2017, they have completed a survey and published an action plan, held annual forums, spread the word through government and media outlets and they are just starting to establish provincial WIM member groups with Manitoba being the first.



At the Manitoba kickoff meeting, the support was overwhelming from local manufacturers and the brainstorming session was energetic and hopeful. Many ideas were brought forward including discussions around struggles with childcare, work life balance and shift work, ways to get youth engaged, improving the image of manufacturing and highlighting the vast array of opportunities and skillsets needed in manufacturing.



The first meeting in Manitoba was a huge success. Keep in contact with us and CME to learn more as this initiative begins to rollout and gain momentum.



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