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Safety Matters

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Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.


NSLC's prevention journey
A culture of safety is created through leadership and accountability, and it’s something the NSLC has worked hard to achieve over the past five years.

In 2012, the company began working closely with WCB Nova Scotia. Together, they developed a strategy and set specific goals for a safer workplace, which included an enhanced Stay at Work/Return to Work program, an established “Team of Doers,” and hundreds of hours of formal training facilitated by WCB Nova Scotia Workplace Consultant Bob Westhaver. 

“When we first started working with NSLC, they were trending in the wrong direction, especially in the Distribution Center,” said Bob.

But with a strategy that engaged all employees, from the CEO to workers on the front line, things started to turn around, and their efforts have paid off.  



Time-loss injuries decreased from 19 in 2011 to 12 in 2012, with six employees returning to the workplace safely after just one day.  NSLC has also reduced their WCB costs by more than $100,000 since 2011.

But safety is much more than just a number on a page.  It’s also about creating a positive workplace culture.  

“Distribution Center employees weren’t fully engaged in their workplace safety programs when I first arrived,” said Bob. “Within a year, things turned around.”

NSLC Vice President, Supply Chain and Procurement Brad Doell said that before developing the strategy, the importance of staying at work or returning after an injury wasn’t truly understood.  Now, workers know they have the right support. 

“We tell our workers that they are important, and we want them back in our workplace as soon as it is safe for them to come back to work,” he said.

The union was involved as well, which, according to Bob, helped workers feel their voices were being heard and increased their willingness to provide input on how to make things better. A survey conducted at the start of the strategy had a 100 percent participation rate – the highest survey return rate in the NSLC’s history.

Brad, Bob and the Team of Doers met every two weeks on all three shifts over the course of three years. The NSLC Supervisory Team went from spending ten per cent of their time on the warehouse floor to nearly half of their time.  They are now focused on leading safety indicators and catching workers doing the right things, praising their safety efforts, and coaching for success.

Workplace safety is also about ensuring workers have the right tools for their jobs. For the NSLC’s Distribution Centre, the installation of a pallet de-stacker machine means workers no longer have to manually handle wooden pallets. 

Before, workers would pick up a 75 pound pallet from a stack and drop it to the warehouse floor, where it would occasionally break. The heavy lifting, scattered debris and loud noise made it a high-risk situation. With the introduction of the de-stacker, workers no longer have to physically touch the pallets. The equipment also moves silently, reducing the risk of hearing loss.

“Focusing on workplace safety is something we can all agree on and get behind,” says Brad.  “We all want our employees to go home safe and sound after every shift.” 

The NSLC was profiled on page 25 of WCB Nova Scotia’s 2015 Annual Report. Click here to check out the full report.



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