With the Jan. 31 deadline for an incentive program through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (formerly the Workers’ Compensation Board) fast-approaching, the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition has 90 of the almost 700 businesses in the district on board.
That’s almost double the goal to have 50 signed up for the first year of the two-year incentive program. But Jeannette Cawston, projects co-ordinator with the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, stressed there’s still room for more businesses that pay under $90,000 in premiums to register.
"They’ll take as many as we can give them," Cawston, the local contact for the program, said last week. "They’re just blown out of the water by the Rainy River District."
The safety coalition’s big target group is the independent operators, who would benefit from free safety training. Cawston noted many of the larger companies already have safety training in place.
And it could mean big bucks back for business. Last year alone, the WCB paid out $2.8 million in benefits in Rainy River District.
Given success with last year’s pilot in Brockville, Waterloo and Peterborough, businesses have every reason to sign up. Cawston noted WCB claims there dropped from 21 a month to 13.
In dollars and cents, that meant a savings of nearly $1 million over the benefits estimated to be paid out, with 75 percent of that savings handed back (prorated) to the participating businesses.
"After Jan. 31, any business that wants to buy into the program will be put on the list for 1999," Cawston added, but stressed they could reap the benefits of the training this year.
Now they’re looking for 20 facilitators with safety backgrounds to train those businesses which register, and the response for that has been just as overwhelming.
"We pretty well have them," Cawston said, with many "mentor" companies offering their employees and training space. "We even have people who are volunteering their time."
Each will get two full days of training--from Cawston, Doug Langtry (Abitibi-Consolidated), and a WSIB training co-ordinator--before they can "facilitate" the 10-hour session with the businesses signed up.
For now, it’s estimated each facilitator will put in about 20 hours a month.
"We’re taking the training to the businesses," Cawston said, adding they wanted to be flexible and offer the training in as many district communities as possible.
"We can start the training as soon as the facilitators are trained," she noted. "We want to try and have the businesses all done by June or July."
Cawston will be heading to Toronto at the end of the month for a "train the trainer" program.