sustainability priorities

safety

Embracing World-Leading Safety Standards

We embrace world-leading safety standards at all our operations.

Embracing safety is one of Interfor’s Core Values—values all employees live by every day. Providing a safe work environment is a fundamental obligation of the Company and each employee has a responsibility to ensure that they, and their colleagues, follow safe and approved work practices.

Safety is a shared responsibility. Managers and supervisors are accountable for providing a safe work environment, training, and enforcing safe work practices. Our Safety Playbook prescribes the aspects of our safety program that employees and contractors are accountable for, including:

  • understanding safe work practices;
  • reporting unsafe acts and conditions;
  • refusing unsafe work;
  • being fit for work; and
  • safely following both standard operating and emergency preparedness procedures.

Safety Compliance, Oversight, Policies & Programs

We are subject to US and Canadian occupational safety laws and all our operations are periodically audited by independent or regulated health and safety authorities to verify compliance with safety regulations and standards. We also self-audit our operations to measure and improve performance

We have a formal Health and Safety Policy and document procedures for safe work, hazard identification and risk assessment at all our operations. We have regular health and safety training programs and initiatives across all our operations and offices. We have 15 comprehensive foundational safety programs covering everything from personal protective equipment to confined space awareness.

Mentors and peers are assigned to guide new employees through our new hire onboarding process. We track progressive learning and employees must demonstrate their safety skills through a verification process. We track employee training to ensure annual refreshers are completed as needed and required certifications are kept up to date.

We have a Drug and Alcohol Policy with zero tolerance for on-the-job drug or alcohol use by employees.

Safety committees, comprising both supervisors and hourly employees, are established at each of our operations. They complete site inspections and meet regularly to share information and best practices across operations.

We set targets for leading indicators to prevent incidents and injuries. We track and analyze leading and lagging indicators to identify trends.

We encourage employees to report their safety concerns and we protect them from retaliation. We provide a confidential whistleblower hotline as an additional resource for our employees to report any safety concerns.

Quarterly reports are provided to the Environment and Safety Committee of our Board, which has direct oversight of health and safety matters.

Safety Certifications

Interfor’s safety performance benefits from external safety certifications and memberships based on third-party auditing, verification and annual reporting, including:

  • We have been awarded membership in the Washington START (Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together) Program for excellence in workplace safety and health.
  • Our Canadian woodlands, including our major contractors, are certified to the BC Forest Safety Council’s SAFE Companies Program.
  • We have achieved BC Forest Safety Council MAG-SAFE Certification or BASE recognition in our Canadian manufacturing facilities.
  • Through our membership in the Western Wood Products Association, we share safety statistics for benchmarking.

Quality Control and Product Safety

Another aspect of safety is ensuring a quality product that meets our grades standards and customers’ needs.

Our mills have quality control programs in place to ensure that our products meet exacting grade standards approved by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) Board of Review in the US and the Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board (CLSAB) in Canada. Our products are regularly inspected by third-party grade inspection agencies to ensure our grading is accurate. All employees involved in grading lumber, whether manually or via autograders, are required to hold a valid grading certificate. Autograders, a significant and valuable investment, are favored in our operations as they provide more accurate grading and result in a more consistent product offering to our customers.

We provide information to help ensure our customers and employees handle and use our products safely. Information on health risks related

to working with our products is available on our website and in our Safety Data Sheets.

In 2020, Interfor did not have any of the following:

  • violations or non-conformance with regulatory labeling and/or marketing codes;
  • legal fines/settlements for false, deceptive, or unfair marketing, labeling, and advertising;
  • product recalls; or
  • legal fines/settlements for violations of bribery, corruption, or anti-competitive standards.

Targets

Our goal is to never hurt anyone, so our Medical Incident Rate (MIR) and Lost Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) targets are both zero. We track both rates, and the severity of incidents within each, and the downward trend indicates progress toward our goal.

Medical Incident Rate (MIR)

The MIR is calculated by multiplying the number of recordable incidents by 200,000 and dividing this by the number of hours all employees actually worked. The 200,000 hours represents 100 full-time equivalent employees working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks. Recordable incidents include: medical treatments, losttime incidents, restricted work incidents, and fatalities.

 

* The industry average MIR is from the British Columbia Manufacturing Advisory Group (BC MAG) for solid wood producers. We work with several different organizations across our operations to track and benchmark safety performance with our peers. The BC MAG has the lowest MIR.

Lost Time Frequency Rate (LTFR)

Lost time frequency rate is a ratio between the number of lost time incidents and the number of exposure hours, recorded within a given timeframe.

* Lost Time Incidents includes any incident in which an employee loses one or more days from work due to an occupational injury or illness. The increase in total incidents starting in 2014 is reflective of the fact that Interfor increased its number of operations and exposure hours through acquiring sawmills and investing in increased capacity (from 2.5M exposure hours in 2011 to 5.9M hours in 2015 and 6.3M hours in 2019). Even so, Interfor’s LTFR has improved over time.

Proactive Safety Indicators

2020 Safety Initiatives

Continuous improvement is built into our safety program and culture. A few of the initiatives that we focused on in 2020 include:

  • COVID-19: keeping our employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic was a primary focus for us – see COVID-19 at the start of this section for more details.
  • Elevated platform audits: We completed a company-wide audit of all elevated working platforms and corrected all high-risk deficiencies identified.
  • Peer audits: We launched a peer audit program through which experienced employees visit other operations within the Company to assess standards and share best management practices.
  • Pre-work hazard assessment and safety observation programs: We increased the number and quality of pre-work hazard assessments and safety observations completed by employees. Proactive reporting and observations are leading indicators for safety engagement.
  • Hot Work: We worked to improve and anchor controls and procedures related to working with ignition sources such as welding and cutting, including alignment on a company hot-work permit standard.

Contractor Safety

At all Interfor worksites, contractors are required to sign in and receive an orientation. This orientation process is updated on a regular basis to reflect relevant conditions at each site and in 2020 it included a review of our COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan to ensure contractors are prepared to meet our requirements before they begin work.

Monitoring and reporting of safety hazards, incidents and compliance is part of our ongoing, regular interaction with contractors. In our woodland operations we work with our contractors to track and report their medical incident rate (MIR).

A contractor’s commitment and ability to keep employees safe and healthy is of utmost importance to us. We require that capital project contractors demonstrate due diligence and report on key safety metrics on a regular basis. The contractors involved in several major capital projects active in 2020 achieved a combined project-to-date MIR of 1.25 as of December 31, 2020.

COVID-19

The health and safety of our employees is always our top priority at Interfor. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has meant coming together as a team to find new ways to work safely in a very different environment.

Central to our response, we developed and implemented an Exposure Control Plan across the Company based on recommendations from leading health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). 

Through the Exposure Control Plan, we developed new processes to keep our employees, contractors and suppliers safe. These include regular risk assessments, daily health self-assessments, temperature checks, additional PPE, extensive social distancing measures, restrictions on visitors, and additional cleaning and disinfection at each operation. We also engineered solutions to reduce exposure by installing plexiglass partitions, plastic curtains, shields and hands-free door openers. 

In addition to developing our Exposure Control Plan, we also took the following steps to support and promote the health and well-being of our employees through this difficult time:

  • Starting in April 2020, we ensured continuity of medical benefits for employees affected by pandemic-related shutdowns.
  • We supported and encouraged staff to work from home and adopt flexible working hours where operationally possible.

We continue to assess risks and re-evaluate the processes and protections we have implemented, and we are prepared to quickly adapt to new information as directed by local health authorities. 

We are grateful to our employees for their commitment and hard work in the face of adversity, and to the frontline and healthcare workers in the communities where we operate for their strength and perseverance.

Foundational Safety Programs