Mercer Celgar employees leaving the mill in Castlegar, BC, Canada

Life-saving Golden Rule No. 7: For more than Operations

In sharing the Life-saving Golden Rules (LSGRs) this year, the focus has primarily been on our mill operations. Of course, this makes sense. Due to the nature of the environments, the required materials, and the equipment used, safety is at the forefront of the workplace. Our team members on the floor work hard to keep the 9 LSGRs top of mind throughout their day to keep their colleagues and mills safe.

But for team members who work outside of the mills, how does safety apply to them?

The Life-saving Golden Rule No. 7

Though work may take place in different environments, the LSGRs apply to all team members, even if in a roundabout way. While some of the rules may only seem applicable to the mill floors, the seventh of the LSGRs – I never consciously work without the necessary personal protective equipment or work permit, if this is required – has an incredibly wide range. 

For some of our office employees, sometimes their presence is called for within the mill environment. Whether taking part in safety walks and inspections or just passing through on their way to an office deeper in the operation, care and caution are still required in the form of proper PPE. 

Taking Basic Care

For our office employees who work at our mill locations, each one is provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to give them the basic protection required for navigating through the mill environment, including:

  • a hard hat;
  • safety glasses;
  • ear protection;
  • a respirator; and
  • a safety vest.

This PPE is also provided to guests who are visiting mill operations and/or may not have regular access to their own gear. Regular and visiting employees are also expected to take additional care to assist the effectiveness of the provided PPE, including wearing long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes (preferably steel-toed). 

For new team members and site visitors, orientation explains the importance of the required PPE. As their purpose for being on site is generally limited to observation, orientation reinforces the walkways to be used, the areas to be avoided, and what to do in the event of an evacuation. In essence, the orientation is the work permit, communicating the scope of the work. Orientation is held on a regular basis for long-term team members and is always held for site visitors, even if they have been to site before.

Finding Your Comfort Zone

Mercer has a mix of employees who have worked on the mill floors before switching to an office role and others who have never touched a hard hat until invited to the operations. Though we all have the value of Health & Safety instilled in us, and understand that PPE is the last line of defence, theory and practice can evoke different emotions. We asked some of our office employees, with a range of comfort levels with the mills, to share their experience when changing environments.

“Going out into the mill for someone who is new to the environment or doesn’t get out of the office often can be intimidating. Though our orientation is thorough, if you’re not hands-on and venturing around a lot, that knowledge can become challenging to remember. The people in our mill who are out there every day, however, are so full of knowledge and are always willing to guide you and to help you get around. That includes letting you know how and where to wear PPE if you are needing a reminder.”

-Rose Leslie, Communications Advisor, Mercer Celgar


“Because of our work in the Legal, Energy and Environment department, we used to be in and out of the mill often. Due to the pandemic and remote work, time in the mill has been significantly reduced. Nevertheless, working in the mill is not a problem for me – on the contrary, I really like this variety. I feel very comfortable; it always feels exciting and impressive when I’m out and about. Still, you always have to be careful. As far as PPE is concerned, I also feel comfortable in it. It can, depending on what you wear to the office (like suits, dresses), create ‘interesting combinations’ that may not always make you feel super comfortable. But safety simply comes first. Since going into the mill isn’t spontaneous, we’re prepared for this situation and, speaking for myself, know never to wear skirts or dresses for work.”

-Sophia Duft, Corporate Attorney / Environmental and Energy Officer, Mercer Timber Products


“Before I joined Mercer, I watched my father as a construction worker, so I know that safety is key in an industrial environment. Wearing PPE is not uncomfortable at all, and wearing the Mercer brand fills me with pride at being part of the team even if I am not working in production. When I do get the chance to be in the production area, wearing PPE sensitizes me to act properly and with respect. Our powerful and huge facilities can make you seem small compared to them.”

-Marc Brehmer, IT Project Manager, Mercer Pulp Products


“At first, the mill’s industrial setting and the required PPE can be intimidating for someone that is not accustomed to this type of work environment. Even purchasing your first pair of safety boots can be daunting when they’re for a workplace you can’t even fathom. But, with time and understanding, you appreciate these pieces that help aid in everyone’s health and safety.”

-Kaitlin Noskey, Human Resource Superintendent, Mercer Peace River


“Wearing PPE in the mill always gives me a sense of security and belonging, even if wearing the equipment is not particularly comfortable. In our company, we are working with so many different, dangerous substances. The equipment and constructions are so enormous and impressive. We are all aware of the potential risks on a daily basis. I am convinced that the protective equipment I put on keeps me safe from nasty injuries.”

-Daniela Wedel, Communication & Public Relations, Mercer Stendal


“I’ve never really had any doubts or concerns when going to a mill to visit. The safety standards are obviously held high and I think that is evident once walking around.”

-Jordan Dawson, Corporate Development Analyst, Mercer International Inc. 


We thank our team members for their insights, as well as for the continued emphasis on safety that each and every one of Mercer holds in their day-to-day – in and out of the operations.