Ponoka could receive $15,000 in work safety refunds

The last time Ponoka’s safety manual was updated was in 2009

The Town of Ponoka hopes to save some money in insurance premiums by updating its safety policy.

The last time the town updated its safety manual was in 2009, explained Seema Herr, HR manager with the town. She told council Aug. 14 during the regular meeting that administration needs the support of council in the endeavour.

If the town does update its policy, and meets Occupational Health and Safety standards, it could be eligible for an annual Workers Compensation Partners in Injury Reduction refund of $15,000.

Herr says the town is working with a safety consultant to determine proper steps. “Today we don’t have a good handle on it because we don’t have a safety manual.”

Coun. Carla Prediger asked if safety is a responsibility of council or administration.

“The actual safety manual,” replied Herr. “Which outlines all the different procedures, that’s the responsibility of administration.”

She added that council’s approval would be as a cover letter to the manual and said council’s job is to ensure administration does the work.

One of the reasons behind the need for approval is the fact that the town’s COR (Certification of Recognition) was revoked in 2015 when a Mandatory Internal COR audit was missed in 2014.

“The town needs to obtain an external audit by a third party representative to regain COR back. There has been no movement with safety manual in obtaining the COR status in the last four years,” explains the preamble to council.

The last time the town received a refund was in 2013 for $11,000.

Herr says the town does have some of the core safety directives, but added that it’s shoddy work and needs an overhaul.

Areas where the town was missing required documentation: directives such as safety meetings, safe work procedures, completed hazard assessments forms for on-the-job tasks, pre-inspections, facility inspections and safety drills were part of the issue.

Every single department’s job procedures and safe work practices were incomplete. The preamble adds that a culture of safety has deteriorated in the town without an updated policy.

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