Battist earns top OH&S award

by Brandi Cramer

DARTMOUTH, N.S. – Making an outstanding contribution to occupational health and safety isn’t the easiest thing to do, particularly given the hazards inherent to the trucking world.

But for Gerald Battist Trucking, and its president of the same name, it’s a battle not only worth joining – it’s winnable, too.

A culmination of countless hours of work and action has placed Gerald Battist Trucking in the spotlight by winning the Outstanding Achievement Award during the North American Occupational Health and Safety Week 2002 symposium and awards ceremony.

The event was held on May 10 at the Holiday Inn Harbourview in Dartmouth N.S.

The award, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Safety Council (NSSC) is for a company or organization that recognizes significant innovation and leadership and has many years of influence in the community concerning the promotion of workplace health and safety.

“Gerald Battist has been an outstanding industry person who has been proactive in a lot of different areas and he was one of the initial start up directors of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association (NSTSA),” explains Dianne Isnor, executive director of NSTSA. “He was instrumental in working with the Nova Scotia Community College to deliver a program for his employees and met the fall restraints requirements training. He had all of his people in his company who were on his occupational health and safety committee take occupational health and safety training.”

The Pictou County company employs 53 full time workers as well as six part time staff.

Being a leader in safety, one would assume their best-kept secrets are key to their success. But, fact is there are no secrets.

“He is willing to share information with other employers in industry that need help to meet the requirements that are outlined in the acts and regulations,” explains Isnor.

Battist says he was quite surprised when he was told his company had won the award.

The firm was the first company to complete an extensive Occupational Health and Safety Audit through the NSTSA and was awarded a certificate of recognition.

“I think that probably helped bring it all on,” he says of the award.

Keeping pace with new regulations isn’t easy, especially considering trucking is the most-regulated business going. As a result, Battist employs a full-time person to ensure all safety procedures are kept up to date: Barry Mellish, the fleet’s safety coordinator. His efforts are not only appreciated by Battist and his company, he was also awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award for an Occupational Health and Safety Professional. This award is presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to workplace health and safety through significant personal initiative and personal commitment beyond the norm required by his/her industry.

“Barry is the one who has put all our different safety programs together here and has really done a super job. We’re very pleased with him,” says Battist.

Mellish has been with the company for approximately two years since coming over from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 28 years experience. He spent half his career with the Highway Patrol, where he learned motor carrier regulations, commercial vehicle enforcement and accident analysis inside and out. He believes the relationships he has established within the industry and the work he does with his counterparts are what got him to where he is today.

“Either they had to tell a bunch of lies or they’re happy with what I was doing,” he jokes.

Being the health and safety representative for Battist has Mellish hiring drivers, writing safety manuals, training drivers, mechanics and other employees, overseeing all safety aspects and investigating any accidents involving the company and its equipment.

“We have got fall arrest programs, safe driving award programs … We also have semi-annual training/safety meetings for drivers to bring them up to date with new policy and regulation changes,” explains Mellish.

Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association president Ralph Boyd says the investment of time to ensure employees are operating in a safe manner is extremely important.

“It was nice to see people in the trucking industry recognized for being very proficient in safety management,” he says. “Safety comes at a cost and in our industry there are very slim margins. To have that commitment not only speaks well of the management but of the employees also. It is a partnership.”

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