SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Liberty Tire Recycling Canada Ltd. in Legal, Alberta, has set a new standard in terms of employee health and safety by implementing fundamental shifts in its organizational culture and record keeping processes. As the largest recycler for end-of-life tires in Alberta, Liberty Tire recycles over five million tires annually at its facilities in Legal and repurposes them into feedstock for customers who convert it into new and diverse sustainable products. Employee health and safety is the #1 priority at Liberty Tire. Following that philosophy, adopting a new way of thinking about workplace safety has been a critical factor in the company maintaining its high level of safe production and resulted in over five years without a lost time injury.
Shaun McCabe joined the Liberty team as the Alberta Manager of Occupational Health and Safety (“OHS”) in 2015, bringing with him both his educational and professional expertise in OHS. In his new role, Mr. McCabe made a commitment to senior management and received their full support to begin new courses of action designed to shift employees’ mindset on workplace safety across Liberty Tire’s operations in Alberta. His pilot project in Alberta introduced a new employee reporting system to capture a diverse range of incident categories with the help of a robust online system and tools. Through this new reporting system, Liberty Tire was able to identify and record a wider range of incident categories and put corrective measures in place to reduce repeat events, resulting in a significant decrease in incident reoccurrences each month. This system has improved employee safety and saved the company thousands of dollars each year in surcharge premiums.
“I am incredibly proud of the workplace safety record that Liberty Tire is achieving here in Alberta, and the support and commitment received from senior leadership in the organization,” said Shaun McCabe, now Canadian Regional Manager of OHS and Quality Control. “Entering this role in 2015 and introducing change was not easy. There was definitely tension joining the team and convincing people they needed to shift the way they were working – that ‘good’ was not ‘good enough’ when it came to their health and safety.”
McCabe noted a visible change in the attitude and actions of his colleagues when a full year of data was available for team review, proving the importance of the changes they made to keep each frontline worker as safe as possible. “As we shifted perspectives around safety and reporting, we were disrupting regular processes and changing our definitions of safe production,” said McCabe. “We have turned into a team of collective champions for a new focus on safety, and the proof of our commitment is in our achievement; the facility has operated over five years without experiencing a work-related lost time incident. This couldn’t have been done without the active participation and dedication of every team member.”
Liberty Tire’s safety improvements included increasing the reporting of incident events, near misses, inspections, and safe work observations. When the new online system and tools were introduced in 2015, 594 reports were made. Last year, that number reached 17,960 and the engagement level of employee user accounts was 93%, reflecting a significant increase in identifying, understanding, and reporting. The system also records positive actions taken, which helps reduce repetitive incidents.
“With our success at the Alberta facility, we hope to implement similar processes across other locations in North America,” said Darcy Rivard, General Manager. “The work Shaun and his team are doing here is an inspiration and an example of actions every facility should be taking. It’s important for us to focus on safe production and do whatever we can to protect employee health. The Alberta team was able to share their key learnings and expertise with Liberty Tire’s North American team at our recent Safety Summit earlier this year.”
The Summit was six years in the making and brought health and safety leaders across the organization together to discuss OHS, share learnings, and educate one another. Approximately 30 leaders from Canadian operations and across the U.S., including Utah, Georgia, and Texas, attended. The event was a resounding success and the team from Alberta played a leadership role at the conference, helping Summit participants think differently.
“I’m very proud of our team here in Canada for proactively implementing this system and most importantly, enhancing employee wellbeing,” said Neil Bansal, Regional Vice President at Liberty Tire Recycling. “Our team has been dedicated, setting goals, and implementing plans that go far beyond basic safety requirements. Our operations are vast and complicated with employees handling heavy materials and machinery, and our goal is to have everyone feeling safe and supported. The data we can access from our new online system helps us put corrective measures in place to ensure continual improvement.”
Employee health and safety is not only the number one priority at Liberty Tire Recycling, but also a key component of the company’s ESG strategy. In recent years, the company overall has seen a reduction on Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordables and lost time incidents by 33% and 36%, respectively. This is a testament to the efforts of Liberty Tire’s safety team and the leadership of Shaun McCabe and others.
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