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Wide-format Printing: Addressing workplace health and safety

Employers’ responsibilities training employees in the proper use of machinery.
Photo courtesy SGIA

Workplace injury trends
Tom Welton, an industrial director with WSN, presented a five-year analysis of workplace injuries based on statistical trends. He explained the WSIB categories printing, platemaking and binding as one ‘rate group’ for which it collects data over time.

Most injuries reported in Ontario’s printing sector have affected operators of presses and other machinery. The top concerns include sprained, strained and torn muscles, overexertion and spine and other back injuries.

The discussion also turned to the aging workforce. Labourers in the range of 45 to 54 years old are most likely to suffer these injuries on the job, followed by those aged 35 to 44 and 55 to 64.

“As workers grow older, they face a higher risk of injury or illness in the workplace,” added Ola Sinelnikova, project leader with CBI Workplace Solutions, a health and safety service provider. “This is important to keep in mind as the median age of Canada’s labour force is more than 42 years old and continues to rise. Corporate health and wellness has become an economic imperative.”

Small business challenges
Finally, Joanne Gordon, WSIB’s manager of small business health and safety programs, discussed incentives to help develop effective programs, manage risks and reduce injury and illness costs.

“Critical injuries and even fatalities are disproportionately represented among small businesses,” she said, “so we offer free awareness sessions for small business owners, with consultants providing legislative and certification updates and training.”

An ongoing process
The June workshop was an opportunity for attendees to ask questions pertaining to their specific printing facilities and to network with their fellow business owners, who face the same challenges with respect to safety and health issues in the workplace.

Looking ahead, WSIB will work with both WSN and SGIA to present ‘Building Your Health & Safety Program’ sessions this fall with the printing industry in mind. The goal is to follow up with businesses and make many resources available to help them make improvements with safety as a core component.

Allison Lundy is a regulatory assistant for the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and oversees its safety recognition program. For more information, visit


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