Transportation 2016: Westcan Bulk Transport

Transportation 2016: Westcan Bulk Transport
All 1,160 employees at Westcan Bulk Transport are expected to “actively care” about safety.  

“If you see something, you’ve got to say something,” says Grant Mitchell, CEO. “There’s no level, no rank… Whether you are in maintenance or a senior leader or the person who sweeps our parking lot, they have the same authority when it comes to safety.”

The Actively Caring program was launched two-and-a-half years ago. It entailed extensive education and awareness with employees at all levels within the company.

“It’s not a gotcha game, not someone who wants to get you in trouble, not someone who is a know-it-all; they actively care,” says Dan Columbus, vice-president of health, safety and environment at the Edmonton-based company. “And there is no discipline — that is completely outside the aim of the program.”

The program has resulted in the biggest safety-related culture shift Westcan has seen in recent years. Workers are looking out for one another, talking to each other and giving tips on how to work safely. 


Westcan’s employee shout-out program recognizes employees for actively caring or for a job well done as identified by their peers, supervisor or a customer. All employee shout-outs are posted on the company intranet and live feed boards at every Westcan terminal, as well as published in the monthly employee newsletter. Employee recognition is also posted on the company’s Facebook page.

The company wants employees’ families to actively care as well. In fall 2014, it held its first family fun day at the Edmonton terminal. The event included safety demonstrations and workshops, a chance to try out the driving simulator, fun activities for kids (face painting, caricaturist) and a free barbecue lunch.

Employee distraction is a key focus at Westcan right now.

“We have many distractions in our work environment, whether you are in the office or in the yard working in one of our warehouses or driving a large truck or pickup truck. There’s no difference — distraction exists,” says Columbus.

This May was deemed Distraction Avoidance Month across the company to coincide with the rollout of the new distraction avoidance policy. A distraction component was included in the monthly safety meeting, and one-on-one meetings were held between all employees and their managers to review the policy. As part of these meetings, employees were asked to sign a distraction pledge and dedicate it to a loved one. These pledges are displayed at Westcan terminals.

To involve employees’ families and provide employees with an opportunity to have discussions at home about distraction avoidance, Westcan held a colouring contest for workers’ children and grandchildren. The winning art pieces were printed on T-shirts and sent to the families.

For any truck driver, fatigue is a real concern, so Westcan has implemented a mandatory fatigue management program to get ahead of the problem. The company provides full screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea at no cost to the employee. If the worker needs a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, Westcan covers the cost and the employee can even take the machine with him if he leaves the company.