At TimberWest our goal is to get everyone home safely without harm, accident or injury, throughout their entire career.

We understand that in order to accomplish this goal we need to constantly strive to learn best safety practices and adopt these learnings across our operations. And that is why in 2016, TimberWest consulted DuPont Sustainable Solutions, the world’s foremost safety consulting company, to assess our safety values, the state of our safety management, and the quality of our key safety practices. All of our staff and contractors were involved in this assessment.

Once we were armed with the data, we understood the value of sharing the results with other forest companies, contractors, safety organizations, and with as many players across the forestry value chain as possible. We also believed in sharing the DuPont training sessions, and hosted all members across the forestry spectrum. Everyone was equipped with truths like “every accident is preventable”, and sharing in best-practices on how to empower, lead and champion safety as a cultural practice within our own company’s.

One company who attended the DuPont training was Tidal Transport & Trading (Tidal), a marine services company based in BC. Tidal is responsible for vessel logistics and regulatory requirements for forestry export in BC. They manage and coordinate everything from vessel stowage and preparation, on-board supervision of labour, and all logistic requirements. Together with their largest contractor Western Stevedoring (Western), they engaged DuPont to assess safety across both company’s operations.

“It made sense to partner together. We already integrate our safety and training initiatives with Western because when it comes to safety, we operate as one. There cannot be a division on safety,” says Jordan Welch, Operations and Safety Superintendent for Vancouver Island at Tidal, a position created to ensure safety initiatives are properly communicated and executed across the operations. “With the DuPont process it gave us a complete understanding of the safety culture across the two companies, and it equipped us to work together and implement DuPont’s recommendations as a team.”

The DuPont assessment resulted in three outcomes for immediate next-steps in safety improvement: bridging communications between Tidal and Western at the management and supervisory level; improving safety gear for the workers, and increasing safety training.

Bridging communications included the DuPont Felt Leadership training for the Tidal and Western executives, management and ship board supervisors to equip the team with the leadership tools and techniques they needed to engage with their departments on safety improvements and commitments.

Stemming from the joint-leadership training was the decision to develop a custom Safety Observation App. The App can be accessed anytime by all Tidal and Western managers and supervisors to document safety flaws, note safety improvements because of a change in process, and/or indicate possible opportunities for safety enhancement.

“The App is a versatile communication tool for us,” says Mr. Welch. “If any imminent safety hazards are observed, the hazard is dealt with immediately and the App is used to record details of the event. If a less serious situation is observed, the App is used to document it and inform others. This results in follow-up and on-the-ground solutions to a safety concern that then gets adopted across all operations. It is also used to record a procedure that is being carried out correctly to positively reinforce safety behaviour.”

Since the App’s deployment about a year ago, the data shows successful uptake of the tool, more efficient and effective communications across leadership teams, and noticeable on-the-ground behavioural changes around a commitment to safety.

The strides Tidal and Western have taken on improving safety gear for their workers includes a two pronged approach: listening to the workers concerns, and learning from other industry groups.

A committee of peers was established that includes Tidal, Western, BC Maritime Employers Association and Union representatives. At this committee, safety gear concerns are discussed, best-practices are included and outside support is brought in to implement the change. A recent example of the benefit of this peer based committee includes the successful outreach by the longshoremen to address hand injuries caused by broken and sharp wires. Solution were discussed and a prototype is now in development for a ‘puncture-resistant’ glove. HexArmour, a US based company specializing in safety equipment, is engaged to develop the custom glove that will provide maximum comfort and safety for the vigorous task of log loading.

“The important thing to remember about safety is that everyone must be involved,” says Mr. Welch.  “Having the workers directly engage in a committee on innovative safety improvements is a step in the right direction. The best thing we can do is to ask questions, keep our ears open, and work collaboratively to implement these safety changes.”

Tidal and Western also seek outside guidance from other industry groups, specifically to learn about how other companies address slip, trips and falls; the most common safety incident in each area of the ship loading operation.  Forest companies, contractors, customers, Union representatives and association groups are brought together quarterly to discuss and share best practices. At these meetings, Tidal and Western identify safety initiatives that could be applied to ship loading operations and bring back these leadership learnings to their teams.

“There are no magic solutions to advance safety, but working with DuPont – and taking a page out of TimberWest’s book – has taught us the importance of consulting outside players, and engaging our workers so that we can continue to relentlessly pursue constant safety improvements,” continued Mr. Welch.

Lastly, the most important element of continual safety advancement is training and education. In order to further cultivate a safety culture, Tidal and Western have partnered with the BC Federation of Labour to train Union supervisors, managers and superintendents on safety leadership and accountability.

“The safety initiatives implemented to date have had a positive impact on the number and severity of safety incidents across the Tidal and Western work sites,” says Mr. Welch. “Slip, trips, falls and hand injuries are declining; safety education and communication are improving, and workers are seeing the spirit of safety improvements and cooperation take shape.”

According to Mr. Welch, the safety initiatives Tidal and Western are working towards for 2017 include, “Keeping communications open, reviewing and improving our safety training and programs, and learning from safety leaders, so that one day we too can be leaders in safety.”

“The work Tidal and their crew perform is absolutely paramount to the forest sector – they get our product to market,” says John Shearing, Contract Manager, South Island Logistics with TimberWest. “We view Tidal and their contractors as part of our family, and as part of the TimberWest family it means looking out for one another, adopting new safety practices, and constantly striving to do better.”

As the TimberWest saying goes: nothing is more important than safety, and every accident is preventable when a commitment to safety is at the heart of the operation. We are excited that Tidal and their contractors have embraced the DuPont learnings and are well on their way to embracing a culture of safety commitment.


To learn more about Tidal Transport & Trading:

To learn more about DuPont Sustainable Solutions:


The image captures four gangs and cranes loading log bundles from the water. Source: Shelly Welch Photography

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