Contractor Obligations Increase Under Canfor Certification

Silvicultural contractors’ working for Canadian Forest Products Ltd. will likely see an increase in responsibilities for documentation and training as part of the forest company’s ISO 14001 certification program being implemented this year.

Silvicultural contractors’ working for Canadian Forest Products Ltd. will likely see an increase in responsibilities for documentation and training as part of the forest company”s ISO 14001 certification program being implemented this year. According to Canfor corporate environment manager Robin Archdekin contractors will still operate to the same standards of performance. However, they will now have to be able to demonstrate to ISO regulators and auditors just how those levels of performance are achieved.

“This ISO certification will formalize what we”re already doing,” said Mr. Archdekin in a meeting last week with the WSCA. “We know this will affect contractors. But to what extent; we are just now finding out. It won”t likely change how we put trees in the ground, for instance. However, it will give us better levers to control what is going on in the field.”

Mr. Archdekin described certification as “an evolving process” that will affect the whole Canfor corporate structure including the newly acquired Northwood operations. “ISO certification makes Canfor more accountable and this will flow down the line to contractors and their workers.”

Contractors, like Canfor itself, will have to make adjustments in their operations in terms of communication, training, and performance monitoring. Implementing ISO standards will require more systematic documentation of how training and communication take place on work sites said Archdekin. For example, contract crews will have to demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures for situations involving environmental mishaps, industrial accidents, and emergency evacuations. This will require more record keeping on contractors” parts as well as certain types of training for crews in areas such as firefighting, safety, and environmental protection.

Linked to the rigourous ISO monitoring and measuring of performance will be a data base comprising contractors and forestry consultants. Through this mechanism Canfor will be able to track the trends in contractor performance. “We”re looking for consistency,” said Archdekin commenting that his company will obviously want contractors who do not create problems and who comply effectively with the expectations of ISO certification. The data base would also be used to screen new contractors.

Archdekin did not rule out the possibility that at some point his company may prefer to deal only with certified contractors. He said any move on the part of the WSCA to license or certify contractors under “a credible set of standards,” would also be seen as a constructive development in terms of the kinds of contractors Canfor might prefer to do business with in the future.

At least three million hectares of Canfor operations will be affected by the certification. The strategy is largely seen as a means of maintaining market share as international pressure grows for more standards in the world”s wood supply markets.

The B.C. ministry of forests plans to test certification systems under the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program which could lead to having that volume under certification.