SAFE Work Certified by Made Safe: North Forge Technology Exchange shares their story

SAFE Work Certified by Made Safe: North Forge Technology Exchange shares their story

Posted on July 12, 2019

As the manufacturing sector partner for SAFE Work Manitoba Certified, Made Safe works with members to assess their readiness, provide support and help companies achieve certification. The process is modelled on internationally-recognized best practices and has demonstrated positive outcomes for individual companies and the industry overall. Certified manufacturers have safer and healthier workplaces, better control of workplace hazards, fewer injuries and illnesses, more engaged and productive employees; as well as a significant rebate on their WCB premiums.

As the SAFE Work Certified by Made Safe process gains traction, we wanted to showcase just a few of the manufacturers leading the way. It’s our hope that telling their stories and sharing the lessons they learned during the certification process will help pave the path for other manufacturers moving forward.

North Forge Technology Exchange

North Forge is the first manufacturer in the 90313 rate code under Made Safe to be certified. This is their story:

As an innovation-based economic development agency and a powerhouse community to fuel Manitoba’s innovation economy, North Forge provides entrepreneurs with award-winning mentors, rockstar subject matter experts and a 4 stage startup program. Armed with Canada’s largest non-profit fabrication lab, the agency operates out of 27,000 square feet across Innovation Drive and Innovation Alley in Winnipeg, Canada.

Q. Tell us a little more about your company, the number of staff you employ, the markets you serve and the products you make:

North Forge Technology Exchange is an innovation-based economic development agency, and is the Province of Manitoba’s strategic partner for innovation

North Forge has a Fabrication Lab that is the largest public access facility in North America. The Fabrication Lab has about 3 million dollars’ worth of advanced manufacturing equipment that gives low cost access to start-up businesses and entrepreneurs to build prototypes. We have a number of equipment room (3D printers, laser cutting, metal working, wood working, IoT innovation lab, etc.).

At the Fabrication Lab, we have a strong advanced manufacturing cluster of industry, government agencies and education working together to improve economic growth. We are fostering collaboration to supercharge innovation and economic growth. Our advanced manufacturing and digital technologies equipment provide new innovative technologies into our processes and capabilities to support current and future business needs and foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness.

One of the North Forge startup businesses working out of the Fabrication Lab is ASKJA Protective Technologies. Using technical materials and processes, their equipment has received clearance from the NHL for use in NHL games.

Q. What should readers of this blog post know about your company vision and culture?

We place a high degree of emphasis on culture within the community and having our safety program at the Fabrication Lab be member / community driven. North Forge has an active and driven volunteer safety committee and a volunteer member base to drive the safety program forward.

Q. What barriers did you need to address internally before making the commitment to pursue certification and how did you overcome these hurdles?

For us, the hardest part of the commitment to certification was that we were not sure how to get started. At the beginning, the process seemed very daunting. My advice on this now looking back is to contact Made Safe at the very start and keep in touch with them throughout the entire process. They were (and continue to be) very supportive with such a huge amount of expertise. We all had the same end-goals. They wanted us to succeed. Make a project plan and tackle it in steps and reach milestones. Having support from the top down in an organization is important to be able to remove barriers and continue to move it forward, as a priority.

Q. Did you learn any safety or business lessons throughout the process that might help others make the decision to become certified?

The safety program makes decision making and actions less stressful because we now know what to do and how to do it.

Q. What would you say is the biggest benefit of certification so far (or that you can see on the horizon)?

The biggest benefit for North Forge having our Safety Certification is that businesses, universities and colleges can have the peace of mind knowing that they are sending their employees and students into a safe environment.

Q. How has your membership with Made Safe helped your organization?

The membership with Made Safe has allowed us to connect with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and their Women in Manufacturing initiative; the training courses at Made Safe are very valuable and also connect us to Workers Compensation Board and their Research & Workplace Innovation Program. We’re stronger when we work together.