Safety incentives proposal green-lit at budget

Lisa Goudy
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Al Bromley, director of human resource services with the City of Moose Jaw, discusses the details of a safety incentives program at the Jan. 13, 2014 budget committee meeting at city hall.

Pending council approval, the city will have a safety incentive program.

“(The program) would be consisting of communication pieces, pointed training and education, awareness campaigns as well as department safety incentive award programs,” said Al Bromley, director of human resource services with the City of Moose Jaw. “We would like to emphasize themes of hazard identification and correction, anti-violence, respect in the workplace and the delivery of a standardized safety process instruction system throughout our various departments and the work performed.”

In 2007, the city had a Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) surcharge of $251,722. There were 1,382.75 lost time days or 31 lost time claims. In 2013, the city’s surcharge was reduced to $66,207.

In 2014, the city will have a WCB rebate of $17,000. The city had budgeted for a $50,000 surcharge and so the net budgetary savings will be $67,000 for the 2014 budget year.

Budget committee approved Bromley’s request for $20,000 of those budgetary savings be allocated to a new safety incentive program.

“What an amazing turnaround it’s been since 2007. However, it’s our belief that the work is really just beginning,” said Bromley.

He said the money would be used for things such as standardized process posters for jobs performed on machinery, vehicles or equipment, rewarding departments for the number of days since the last lost time accident and a hazardous identification award program.

“Individuals would bring to the attention of their supervisor a hazardous condition and that might be through a photo with their cell phone or just a detailed description of the area and the problem concerned and those types of reports would bring about an overall safer workplace,” said Bromley. “There could be elements of education and instruction in this as well.”

But Coun. Dawn Luhning said she wasn’t sure spending money on posters would help.

“I’m not saying ongoing training isn’t a bad idea. I actually think the training part of bringing in maybe a speaker here and there to speak to our employees about that is a good idea,” she said. “I’m just saying the numbers kind of prove already that our workforce is doing well.”

City manager Matt Noble said the city is doing well, but the city has also been “very fortunate.”

“Towards the end of the year, we encountered three serious incidents that could’ve totally reversed and taken us back to the surcharge. What we’re trying to do is head that off,” he said. “It doesn’t take much in terms of some of the safety issues that we encounter if one of them were to be a full-blown accident.”

Luhning said she liked the idea of bringing in trainers to speak to the workforce, but she doesn’t want to “see us waste money on things that aren’t going to protect employees from these serious incidents.”

“I mean, $20,000 might not seem a lot, but it is in the whole scheme of our budget and where we’re at with infrastructure and stuff like that,” she said. “I’m just trying to ask the questions to justify putting the $20,000-line in.”

However, Coun. Heather Eby said it is a “good news story for the City of Moose Jaw.”

“To me it’s a $20,000-investment of safety of our workforce as opposed to a $20,000-investment of WCB,” she said.

Coun. Don Mitchell echoed similar sentiments.

“I think that we’re being asked to use a portion of the savings to provide greater strength and sustainability to the direction that’s already being pursued by the human resource director,” he said. “I think this is a solid investment.”

Mayor Deb Higgins said she’d rather invest $20,000 for safety rather than pay it as a surcharge to the WCB.

“For sure there’s been a lot of work done, but I think we all know it has to be new and it has to be (from) a number of different directions,” said Higgins. “Otherwise people become immune to the information or immune to the types of initiatives that are put in place so it always has to be reinvented somewhat.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: WCB, Compensation Board

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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Recent comments

  • Pat Krueger
    January 16, 2014 - 11:27

    Re: Councillor Luhning's Concerns For what it's worth, it would seem to me that the City has to consider compliance with health and safety measures (which may include site posters) to ensure liability insurance coverage .