For Bob Price, tackling the tough issues is a matter of course. But then you would expect this from someone who has held what are arguably two very difficult positions in any organization — local union president and joint health and safety committee (JHSC) worker co-chair.
A member of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) Local 999, Bob Price has worked for Duke Energy’s Dawn Compressor plant near Sarnia for 23 years. He has been president of his local for the past 10 years and until recently, was JHSC co-chair.
At a time when workplace issues affecting older workers were still only whispered in many circles, Price was instrumental in designing an ergonomic program that he says, “included changes to accommodate primarily an aging workforce.”
The changes were not necessarily huge,” says Price, “but they were made so older workers, and all workers, could do their jobs in a healthier and safer manner.” Changes included new tool design using lightweight aluminum instead of steel, installation of work platforms thereby eliminating the need to bend and/or reach and new lighter tool bags instead of heavy metal tool boxes. As a result of these changes, Price says, “My co-workers suffer fewer musculoskeletal injuries.”
A Workers Health and Safety Centre-qualified instructor since 1995, Price has delivered Workers Centre training programs to his co-workers and to other Duke Energy workers across Ontario. He has also delivered community-based health and safety programs.
Price says he appreciates the programs and services the Workers Centre provides, not only to him as an instructor, but also to his workplace. For example he says when a workplace health and safety hazard assessment highlighted areas of concern, “I contacted Workers Centre staff who helped identify training programs to address them.” These training programs delivered by Price included ergonomics, work design and noise.
Keith McMillan is CEP’s national health and safety representative for the Ontario region. He says, “Bob is an excellent instructor and a very strong advocate for his co-workers. If it is wrong, he makes it right.” McMillan says Price believes workers can only fully participate in workplace health and safety issues when they are informed. “His knowledge of health and safety and his enthusiasm for worker education comes across in his training,” McMillan adds.
Price has also earned the respect of his employers. He says besides concerns addressed by the joint committee, he meets with management three to four times a year to discuss their overall workplace health and safety issues. Chris Falconer, systems department manager for Duke Energy, says, “Bob is a champion of health and safety for the benefit of workers in our industry. As union president he uses his position and knowledge to promote health and safety and to influence positive changes, especially in the area of industrial ergonomics.”
Last year Price received the Duke Energy health and safety person of the year award.