The Importance of Safety Training


Why should mills invest in safety education for employees and contractors? There are multiple, critical reasons to do so:

• Protecting the welfare of all employees, including company and contractor
• Providing a safe work environment
• Controlling costs
• Staying current on mandated safety requirements

Investing in safety education can ensure both employees and contractors are duly and fully trained in each mill’s specific safety rules, regulations, and requirements. This can help reduce the occurrence of events, and the incidence of citations and/or violations issued by OSHA for contractor actions taken on your worksite, even if your mill did not create a hazard nor expose employees to a hazard.

Protecting the welfare of employees, whether contractor or company, should be at the forefront of every facility manager’s mind, and not just because downtime from injury and turnover costs impacts production.

To create and maintain a safe and healthy culture in a mill, it’s important for all employees to be engaged and have a personal stake in the success of the safety program. Owners should encourage involvement in any safety programs, and hold both employees and contractors accountable for adhering to safety expectations. Rewarding and recognizing employees for proactive safety actions like hazard reporting and taking corrective action is a great way to track success. Additionally, a safety and health program should always be part of both a contractor’s and a mill’s overall business plan and strategy, including a system to identify/control hazards, compliance with OSHA requirements, and continuous training. Involving mill managers, employees, and contractors in the plan helps create a communal commitment to making the entire process successful.

From a human perspective, the goal of a safety program is to add multiple and varied defenses to the tasks people perform so that when an unanticipated result occurs, a worker will not experience severe injury or other unwanted outcomes. Safe execution of work—resulting from rigorous training, process, and expectation—can also be a good barometer of whether an organization manages other aspects of its business well.

Safe execution makes it more likely projects will produce quality outcomes while meeting cost objectives. Significant injury events obviously prohibit both the mill and the contractor from achieving their respective goals. The ramifications of a significant event can go on for years and result in considerable expense and potential penalties for both parties—over and above the human impacts.

A dedicated commitment to safety education can help ensure mill success and have considerable positive impact on the bottom line. Implementing safety procedures to prevent high-dollar losses caused by injuries or property damage events may significantly reduce overhead and hidden costs.

While most organizations do have safety programs in place, it is crucial to stay on top of current safety issues and changing safety and health regulations. Workshops dedicated to safety training offer attendees exposure to various perspectives from different organizations—not necessarily restricted to pulp and paper. Participants learn about key issues that result in poor safety performance, as well as some of the foundational requirements that lead to safe and effective work execution.

Earlier this year, the Pulp and Paper Safety Association (PPSA) conducted just such a workshop. This two-day, sold-out course provided various perspectives on minimum requirements and best practices related to the safe execution of work performed by contractors within the pulp and paper industry. Day one focused on safety from the perspective of companies who employ contractors, while day two examined the contractor viewpoint. Both sides shared what they felt were the necessary elements and activities that must exist for any work to be executed safely.

Because of this event’s resounding success, PPSA is already planning future workshops. PPSA is dedicated to safety in the pulp and paper products industry, and provides a platform for information sharing and networking. Our goal is to enable members to assist in the prevention, and reduce the severity, of incidents among employees and contractors on and off the job. Learn more about future workshops at

The most important thing for organizations to remember is that the safety of every individual on a job site is paramount, regardless of who they work for. We all have friends and family who depend on us to come home safely each day—and we desire to see them home safely, too.

Larry Warren, senior director of health and safety, pulp and paper/corporate for Domtar, is a member of the Board of Directors for the Pulp and Paper Safety Association (PPSA). He has volunteered in several leadership positions, including his current role as the Education Committee chair. To learn more about PPSA, please visit