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Nogha puts safety first

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Feb 11/05) - The numbers and the accolades indicate Nogha Enterprises has made significant strides in improving workplace safety.

The Liidlii Kue First Nation's group of companies earned the top employer recognition award for 2004 from the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) and the North American Occupational Safety and Health Committee.

Earl Browning, left, interim general manager of Nogha Enterprises, displays a workplace safety plaque awarded to Nogha in January. Safety officer Gilbert Cazon has a firm hold on the company's accident prevention manual and CD. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

In an accompanying letter to Nogha, Bruce Graney, acting chief safety officer for the WCB, writes, "Your company's list of practises ... display impressively creative and effective ways to integrate safety into your workplace."

"It is with great appreciation that I present this plaque to Nogha Enterprises Ltd. stating an exemplary regard for the well-being of their workers." Since adopting a safety policy in December 2003, the LKFN companies have experienced no major accidents - those that involve lost time on the job - and a decrease in minor accidents, said Gilbert Cazon, company safety officer.

Nogha Enterprises, which has construction, highways and fire suppression divisions, employs up to 80 people in the summer and approximately 24 in the winter, Cazon noted. All workers are instructed to be familiar with the thick safety manual, which is also available on CD.

"The awareness is high now with our crews," he said.

Whereas in the past Nogha employees would periodically be seen working on roofs without a safety harness, those instances are becoming fewer, Cazon said, adding he makes site visits to ensure recommended safety practices are being followed.

Down the hall, Nogha Construction employees Jordan Zoe and James Erasmus were working on a new addition to the Liidlii Kue First Nation's office building. Zoe said he's mindful of keeping the work site clean and making sure wires are kept out of the way. Erasmus added he is cognizant of the placement of electrical wires when using power tools.

The company's goal now, according to Cazon, is to achieve a certificate of recognition through the Alberta WCB. It would enable Nogha to act as a primary contractor and put in bids on larger projects, he explained.