Reducing Injuries by Improving Gear: Resolute’s Chemical Protective Suits

Nov 20, 2015

resoluteBy Dominic Leroux
Director, Health and Safety – Resolute Forest Products

At Resolute Forest Products, operating without injuries is the foundation of operational excellence. Safety is linked to every part of our business. We are committed to providing our employees with safe work environments, and fostering continuous improvement by establishing world-class safety and health standards.

After a number of severe chemical injuries in 2012, Resolute implemented a stringent safety standard for pulp and paper mill employees working in proximity to hazardous chemicals. In order to avoid burns, employees were required to wear chemical protective suits at all times within designated hazardous zones. But these disposable suits were uncomfortable and hot – exposing our workers to risks related to heat stress. In order to increase the safety as well as the comfort level of our employees, we decided to design a better suit ourselves.

Through a multi-site task force led by employees at our Kénogami (Quebec) paper mill in Canada, Resolute designed a suit that is safer, watertight, more comfortable and breathable. Adapted to mill-related working requirements, it is easy to put on and take off while wearing boots, has longer sleeves to ensure outstretched arms remain covered, includes added pockets for pens and radios, and lists the chemicals protected against on the front pocket.

The previous suits were disposable, and an employee could easily go through about five each month. Additionally, some suits were only effective against certain chemicals, while others only protected against heat. The new Resolute suits are suitable for many situations, avoiding the possibility of an employee picking the wrong suit for a given task. Because they are breathable, they are also a lot more comfortable. And the new protective suits can be used for at least a year.

As we work towards establishing a “total safety organization” – with a long-term goal of zero incidents and zero injuries at all our operations – we are proud to have achieved our goal of increasing the safety and comfort of our employees.

Resolute received the 2015 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety for its Working Towards Zero Incidents project.