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This summer, Lafarge employees around the world observed Safety Month. Each plant organized events, open houses, and educational sessions to raise safety awareness among employees, subcontractors, and local communities.

At Lafarge's Greater Winnipeg Area (GWA) operations, which include ready-mix, aggregates, and concrete products, Safety Month events filled the calendar in June. Employees talked about heart attack prevention, ran in the Manitoba Marathon, listened to addresses from management, and celebrated their safety achievements.

At one event in Manitoba, Canada, activities ranged from fine arts to daring rescues. Pipe and precast employees enjoyed a barbecue lunch and a full safety agenda, including an address by Wayne Lyons, Lafarge's president of aggregates and concrete in Western Canada. Lyons pledged that the company would provide a safe environment and praised employees' efforts to practice safe workplace behavior.

Lyons and Mitch Schaufier, vice president for Lafarge GWA, presented a Gold Hand award and Leatherman tool to Jason Levesque, charge hand for the erection department. Levesque's gold hat decal will indicate that he is an experienced, knowledgeable, and approachable safety mentor.

As Manitoba's governing authority on workplace health and safety, Don Hurst, Assistant Deputy Minister of Workplace Safety and Health Division, commended Lafarge for its Safety Month events and safety leadership in the Winnipeg construction community.

The day's most dramatic event was a simulated, high-elevation silo rescue performed by the Winnipeg Fire Department's Technical Rescue Unit. During the exercise, firefighters rappelled down the side of a cement silo with a stretcher in tow to demonstrate the plant's accident protocol procedures.

Serious events

“They showed what would happen should a serious event occur,” said Susan Kaplan, health and safety manager of GWA. “It should make employees feel more secure, knowing that if they get hurt, plans are in place to help them. Plus, having a team like that familiar with our operations can only help in an emergency situation.”

GWA employees also unveiled a mural at the main entrance to the precast plant, dedicated to Lafarge employees and their safe work behaviors. “The mural depicts the safe work practice of pulling strand,” explained Mike Hutlet, operations manager of the Winnipeg precast division. “The strand represents prestressing, potentially the most hazardous activity in the precast concrete industry. Although the result is a concrete product, the actual concrete pour represents only a fraction of the entire process.”

The Winnipeg plant's activities were part of Lafarge Group's worldwide effort to become an industry leader in health and safety. In all, more than 3000 Lafarge sites participated in Safety Month. Lafarge has made a commitment at the corporate level, establishing a worldwide health and safety department that reports directly to the chairman/CEO.