Archives for April 2013

Get Your Parking Lot Ready for Spring

parking lot signs

Making a lasting first impression for your business is important especially in this age where image is truly bankable. In this vein, companies invest on good architecture, require well-dressed employees and showcase pleasant faces to greet customers and visitors upon entry and exit. But for owners who really want to impact their business, the show has to start in the parking lot.

This spring, make sure your facility’s parking area is in tip-top shape. Usher in the new season with proper parking lot maintenance and repair that will keep your employees and customers safe.

As the snow melts and concrete pavements become fully visible again, this is the perfect opportunity to check for cracks, potholes, and other damage caused by the inches of snow. Here are the things to look out for during your parking lot maintenance:

1. Cracks and holes. It is best to look for these damages as early as possible so they can be repaired and handled accordingly without causing inconvenience to vehicles and pedestrians. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), parking areas must be level and cracks, holes, and lumps must not exceed one centimetre. Also, check for vegetation that may be growing in between the cracks. Aside from being unpleasant to the eyes, the vegetation may disguise the cracks and uneven concrete underneath.

2. Melting snow and ice. Be careful of thawing ice and snow in your parking lot. This may cause spill and fall hazards that lead to accidents, violations and possible lawsuits. This month, The Prince Albert Daily Herald reported on multiple slip and fall incidents that required paramedic response.

It is ideal to use ice melters to speed up the process. Ice melters work faster than rock salt in melting ice and snow. Choose one that won’t discolour concrete or asphalt, and won’t harm the grass in your parking area.

3. Leaks and spills of antifreeze. Because antifreeze is used in vehicle engines during winter, leaks and spills may occur while the vehicles are parked in your lot. Check the parking slots for these slip and fall hazards. During your facility maintenance, you can use traffic cones to block the damaged slot and prevent access until the spill is cleaned.

Pavement Marking Tape

4. Faded paint and pavement markings. Check the state of pavement markings for parking slots, crosswalks, fire lanes and loading zones. They should be clearly visible and repainted immediately once the colours fade. Use stencils, marking tape, and stripers to make the task of parking lot paving much easier. Remember to use high-quality paint meant for everyday abuse and won’t easily fade.

5. Busted lighting, damaged parking lot signs and bollards. The extreme weather condition we just experienced may have damaged lamp posts and signs in your parking lot. The long exposure to snow may have affected your signs’ reflectivity. Check the condition of your bollards and bumper guards. Make sure to replace broken light bulbs and damaged parking lot signs. Choose signs made with heavy-duty material and optimum reflectivity. This will save you from further facility maintenance costs while ensuring safety in the area. Meanwhile, using bollard sleeves is an economical way to cover up and prevent future damage and replacement.

By keeping a well-maintained parking lot, it shows how professional you are in conducting your business and in creating a lasting partnership with your employees and customers. It’s a way of giving back for their continued loyalty and patronage of your business.

BCWWA Takes Water Safety Seriously

BCWWA water

We all take water for granted. Turn on the tap and out it comes, clean and clear water.

But the BC Water and Waste Association (BCWWA) takes its water dead seriously.

BCWWA is British Columbia’s leading resource water and wastewater news, information and events for the people working in this vital industry and for the public.

Representing 4,700 members – “the people who ensure water quality and quantity from source to tap and back to the source” – in British Columbia and the Yukon, this not-for-profit association is mandated to “safeguard public health and the environment on all matters related to water and wastewater.”

“British Columbians are making great strides towards becoming more aware of their water and the need to value and protect it, but we still have a long way to go,” BCWWA CEO Daisy Foster said recently.

“British Columbians use more water per day on average than the rest of Canada. People may think we have an abundance of water here in BC, but that’s not true for all areas of our province.”

Climate change, population growth, industrial and agricultural use, and aging infrastructure all put pressure on the water supply and the ability to get clean safe water to our taps and return used water safely to our environment, she said.

BCWWA is responsible for number of important initiatives that endeavor to educate the public and ensure that water and wastewater workers are at the top of their game, maintaining the highest safety standards and providing a voice for their industry.

Here’s what the BCWWA does:

  • An educational resource, BCWWA offers a wide variety of training workshops and seminars to its members.
  • Through its wide range of committees they can further their education and expand their skills, share expertise and knowledge, facilitate for change and network with each other. These committees also provide them with a mechanism to engage governments to inform them about water policy and other water issues.
  • The BCWWA hosts the largest annual water industry conference and trade show in Western Canada. This year’s 41st conference One Water: Endless Opportunities  took place last week in Kelowna.
  • Every year, BCWWA organizes Drinking Water Week and other public awareness initiatives.
  • BCWWA certifies cross connection control testers  in BC.

Water conservation and what happens to water when we’re finished with it are both significant concerns for the BCWWA and the costs associated with them are felt by all of us, in every province.

Enform: The Go-To Place for Safety

Huge auto-dump yellow mining truck night shot and excavator

With a major corporate shuffle, revitalized objectives and a new product focused on occupational safety for young and inexperienced workers, a long overdue spotlight is shining on Enform, the premier safety association for Canada’s upstream oil and gas industry.

When Cameron MacGillivray took Enform’s helm as President & CEO last year, he brought a clear commitment to give this association a higher profile and a more powerful voice as a safety advocate, training, product and service provider and the leading resource for the Canadian Petroleum Industry.

“Our goal is for Enform to be the go-to place for safety,” MacGillivray said. “Even though Enform is a non-profit organization, we are running a business and that means defining clear objectives and priorities and continually improving.”

These new objectives include:

  • Improving performance.
  • Enhancing operational integrity.
  • Raising organizational effectiveness.
  • Evolving with the industry.

Another addition to Enform’s corporate team is geophysicist and business analyst Jeff Rose, Chief Operating Officer, who will oversee business practices and implement a new strategic plan.

“I have been where safety hits the road – from offshore drilling to seismic, from building pipelines to fracking. I know the importance of safety,” he said.

Enform has four major priorities:

  • As the upstream oil and gas industry’s leading resource for proven safety and training programs last year, 220,000 certificates were issued to oil and gas workers across three western provinces.
  • As a strong safety advocate, with a number of safety resources  that promote and foster a safety culture, Enform is staying ahead of the learning curve, transforming attitudes and changing behaviours on the job.
  • As a facilitator Enform is structured to bring groups together to communicate openly about safety issues and reach consensus on shared challenges in this rapidly growing and developing sector.
  • As a provider of wide range of important and timely products and services that will continually improve worker safety performance and company systems within the industry.

Enform recently introduced a free online safety awareness-training program, eGSO – Electronic General Safety Orientation – to complement employers’ existing orientation programs for new and inexperienced workers.

“The industry is our customer and Enform has a wealth of resources that can be used to its advantage,” MacGillivray said.

Those resources and a wealth of knowledge will be the focus of Enform’s 2013 Petroleum Safety Conference “Owning Safety” from May 5-10 in Banff, Alberta.

Though a thorough evaluation of systems and processes to crystallize how Enform can best meet the industry’s needs is being conducted, management activities ultimately boil down one basic fundamental – making sure people go home safely every night.

A Health and Safety Plan Success Story

st. boniface

At Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital, a steady 15-20 per cent decline in reported job-related injuries and accidents over the last four years has significantly reduced costs associated with those incidents.

This on-going downward trend is the result of a thorough, dynamic and resilient occupational health and safety program at one of Manitoba’s oldest and the second largest healthcare and research facilities, a 530-bed teaching hospital with a campus of 4,000 health care professionals and support personnel.

Safety advisor, Quim Reis, CRSP joined St. Boniface Hospital in 2005 as part of the Occupational Health and Safety Team to design, implement and maintain its workplace health and safety program. He sums up the impetus of this plan in one word, “communication.”

Hospitals are uniquely challenging workplaces, completely different from industry, he said. Occupational health and safety in a hospital includes the safety of workers, patients, visitors and volunteers in an environment filled with medications and highly hazardous laboratory chemicals like Formaldehyde, radioactive materials for cancer treatments, Ethylene Oxide for sterilization and anaesthetic gases, to name a few.

Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, workers face a vast array of potential, risks and hazards:

  1. Physical – lighting, electricity, vibration, noise, temperature, humidity, radiation
  2. Chemical and Mineral – gases, mists, vapours, solids, dusts, fumes, liquids
  3. Communicable and Biological – blood-borne diseases, viruses, bacteria, moulds, sharps/needles sticks
  4. Ergonomic – repetition, awkward and static posture, force (including contact stress), work environment, patient handling
  5. Safety – slips, trips and falls, housekeeping, moving equipment and parts, anything that can cause traumatic injuries
  6. Work Organization and Psychosocial Environment – pace/intensity, social support/relations, workload/demands, control/latitude flexibility for non-work responsibilities, violence.

This recent reduction in reported workplace incidents at St Boniface Hospital reflects a number of improvements in workplace safety including real-time reporting of injuries; interim and long-term corrective action plans to prevent future injuries; a broad array of prevention programs and systems.

“We’ve shifted the culture at St. Boniface Hospital to support workplace safety,” he said.

Bringing more than 20 years of occupational health and safety planning experience and leadership to St. Boniface Hospital, mainly in industry, “I live and breathe safety,” Reis admitted.

“But developing a workplace health and safety program is just the first step,” he stressed. “A health and safety program won’t be effective if it is kept in a binder collecting dust. Resources are required to ensure its sustainability and continuous improvement.”

The goal of St. Boniface Hospital’s Occupational Health and Safety plan is to maintain a workplace free of hazards that could cause injury, illness or property damage, through:

  • Compliance with the province’s health and safety laws and regulations,
  • Educating staff, physicians, researchers, students and volunteers about workplace hazards and teach safe work practices
  • The expectations that all staff follow safe work practices in their daily work and protect themselves and their fellow workers while doing their jobs.

The St. Boniface Hospital occupational health and safety program includes, but is not limited to the following components:

  1. Health and safety training, awareness and education
  2. Accident/incident reporting and investigation
  3. Workplace safety inspection programs
  4. Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and Safe Work Procedures (SWP)
  5. Occupational Hygiene Program
  6. Chemical Safety Program
  7. Musculoskeletal Injury Program
  8. Disability Management Program
  9. Respiratory Protection Program
  10. 10. Occupational Health Program

Mandatory occupational health and safety training begins with a two-day General Hospital Orientation for all new employees.

On Day One, they are given a review of St. Boniface Hospital’s “health and safety commitment,” workers rights, a review of emergency codes and evacuation plans, general Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training and testing.

On Day Two, patient care providers receive specific training on patient handling and other employees learn about safe material handling and office ergonomics.

It’s impossible to explain all the complex systems contributing to the cultural shift in workplace safety at St. Boniface Hospital and the reduction in accidents and injuries, but here are some highlights.

All St. Boniface Hospital workers in its 120 departments and units participate as members of a multi-tiered Central Workers Safety and Health Committee. It includes many sub-committees throughout the hospital programs and involves continuously monitored mini-training programs that help maintain the overall plan. Workers constantly report to each other, at training sessions and to OH&S.

One mini-program is a “How to Conduct Safety Inspections” training session held three times a year to ensure that new committee members and newly-hired managers and supervisors know their responsibilities for safety inspections held each quarter, Reis said.

Workers are trained to complete and review Job Hazard Analyses (JHA) and must take JHA competency tests. They consult and contribute to the development of health and safety policies related to their specific jobs and provide input on specific Safe Work Procedures (SWP). They attend annual Health and Safety refresher training courses throughout the year.

“One of the challenges in a hospital is ensuring all employees are able to attend education and training sessions,” Reis said. “This can be difficult for nurses and healthcare aides as they cannot leave their work responsibilities to attend a training sessions and it can be frustrating at times.”

An electronic system is used for reporting all injuries, illnesses and “near misses,” creating an instant “incident report,” Reis states.

This report is automatically emailed to OH&S staff, occupational health nurses and the Workers Compensation Board representative in Human Resources. These reports include interim corrective actions, root cause analysis and long-term corrective actions.

Recently a major crisis was averted because of the speed and efficiency of this electronic reporting system.

During an Asbestos Management refresher training session a couple of property management staff reported that some asbestos insulation on our ventilation piping systems was crumbling in several of our mechanical rooms.

“This prompted an investigation and immediate action was taken,” Reis said. “An Asbestos Abatement Contractor was hired and is removing the asbestos containing materials in the mechanical rooms as we speak. This prevented our ventilation systems from possibly spreading carcinogenic asbestos fibres throughout the hospital.”

St. Boniface’s Occupational Health and Safety motto is “continuous improvement,” Reis said. “We regularly review and look for ways to improve our programs.”

How do you measure success?

“We can say that over the last four years our WCB rates have consistently gone down every year, but for a program to work, it needs commitment, support and cooperation from all levels of employees and management – organizational commitment, not any individual in particular.”

How do you measure commitment and support from management?

Quim Reis

Quim Reis

“When they let you do your job as a safety professional. We have that at St. Boniface,” Reis said.

How do you measure support and cooperation from workers?

“You ensure their involvement and you thank them for their contribution. You let them know their contribution is valued. You always provide feedback and demonstrate that as a safety professional, you take their concerns seriously.”





Care for Seldom Used Safety Equipment


We’ve all had it happen at home. A sudden kitchen cut. The dash to the bathroom and the accusatory cry: “Who used the last Band-Aid?” While we wrap a bleeding finger in toilet paper and vow to keep the first-aid kit stocked in future, it is important to remember that in the workplace, accidents are far more costly when vigilance is allowed to slide.

Safety equipment used on a daily basis is easy to monitor and maintain. Safety glasses, harnesses, helmets, protective clothing and gear get used regularly and are top-of-mind. Then there are the safety equipment ‘orphans’ – rarely used, but critical when the occasion arises. Such occasions are often the litmus test of a company’s safety awareness and training success.

Every team can brainstorm about the kinds of safety tools they seldom use – but would need to access and use successfully the second the need arises.  Here are three often-neglected pieces of safety equipment, according to Seton product manager Christine Wendt.

Eyewash stations:  Work sites where there is a danger of eye injuries involving chemicals need eyewash stations in every room. But if the eyewash station starts to double as a catchall, and products are not kept up-to-date, serious trouble looms, especially when time is of the essence. Here, says Wendt, is how to keep eyewash stations current:

  • Check expiry dates on disposable eyewash fluid regularly. Replace as needed.
  • Regularly test water lines on re-usable eyewash bottles, ensuring clean water flushes through at all times.
  • Erect clear signage near eyewash stations – posters overhead and floor markings, with arrows, so that the products can be found quickly when time is of an essence.
  • Ensure there are stations in every area where chemicals are in use and not just one station for the entire workplace. Quick access is everything.
  • Attach inspection logs to the station so that records can be kept of when supplies were last checked and replaced.

First Aid Kits: Workplace first aid kits should be inspected regularly – weekly or once a month at the very least, says Wendt. An inventory of supplies should be attached to the kits and checklists kept.

  • Replenish dwindling supplies as needed
  • Inspect the kits for open packages, expired medication, items that need to be sanitary and may have been left to the air. Replace if necessary.
  • Ensure visible and clearly worded signage is placed prominently near the First Aid station, so that employees can find supplies quickly and use them properly. This includes floor markings and overhead posters.

Spill ProductsHazardous spills in the workplace – chemicals, oils, even flooding from burst pipes – require a speedy response if injury and serious property damage is to be avoided. Absorbent pads, materials to contain and absorb spilled liquids must be kept ready to use and should be regularly inspected.

  • Ensure supplies are kept up to date and ready for emergency spills.
  • Make sure spill kits – which can look like large garbage cans – are easily accessed with nothing piled on top and with appropriate signage overhead   and indicator tape on surrounding floor area.

Wendt recommends never letting the seldom-used get short shrift in safety talks.

“They should be made a regularly scheduled part of team meetings,” she says. “Beyond that, there should be special safety courses around maintenance and use of seldom used equipment at last once a year.”

In the meantime, keeping the location of seldom-used equipment uncluttered and readily visible and maintaining a regular maintenance schedule, will ensure that when the time comes, no one will be caught flatfooted.


Take Charge of Safety

take charge of safety

Jack Hardy wasn’t planning a career in safety but he’s glad he ended up there.

As a civil engineer, his career path started at a concrete plant more than 25 years ago, when he noticed there were postings for safety officers and he figured it was a way to move up the corporate ladder.

He’s glad he did and he thinks it’s a great career path – almost recession proof because the skills are transferable to many sectors – and heartily recommends people looking to build a future follow his footsteps.

“I thought why not?” said Hardy, now manager of prevention for the Saskatchewan

Workers’ Compensation Board. “To tell the truth I think what tweaked me was that the posting paid more but then after I got into the role I realized it really was a vocation for me.”

Things have changed over the years and safety management is a fast growing priority in many progressive corporate cultures. He said it’s a great career path for young and older workers alike with nationally recognized accreditation programs and courses available through local colleges leading to the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) designation.

Back in those days training was fairly rudimentary, he said, but over time its has evolved into a specialty skill and evolved from being process driven to being something requiring a deep understanding of behavioral psychology and leadership.

“What I like about the safety field is that it’s very much collegial,” he said. “People don’t hold back, if they have something that works, they share it and it’s always been that way.”

He also likes the fact that safety management has evolved from being based on compliance – what do we have to do to follow the law – to being proactive and about creating a culture where safety is topmost of everyone’s mind.

“That goes to leadership,” he said noting the talk and the walk have to start at both the top and at the bottom of any organization to set the right tone.

The change in approach to safety management is being felt right through the system. While the University of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety program has been around since1969, there’s been a real upswing of interest in the last few years as the concept of safety as a culture takes hold, says Nimmi Dua, program coordinator, OH&S Certificate Program, Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.

“We’re getting a lot more women interested in safety as a career,” she said. “And that’s good because, you know, Dr. Oz says women make better managers! Safety isn’t about walking around with a clipboard and policing people it’s about working with people to create a culture and women have great soft skills and people skills.”

“CEOs and CFOs have come to realize how safety affects the bottom line and how expensive an accident is and how important culture change is in being safety aware,” she said.

The U of A is one of several schools offering continuing education course and there are a couple of universities, Fredericton and Ryerson in Toronto which have full time degree programs.

Dua says the total number of courses on offer is over 100 grouped around six core courses and two electives. The courses are non-credit leading to a certificate but the 200 graduates each year are usually driving forward to take the CRSP certification and the program prepares them for it.

“We’re all about flexibility and accessibility so our courses are available online for those who can’t get here for face to face classes, two nights a week for six weeks, over three weekends, in 35 hours of seminar so people can choose which is right for them because many have full time jobs and can’t easily get time off,” she said.

About 60 per cent of students are sponsored by their companies with the rest taking the courses for themselves to try and raise their profile and job prospects.

The CRSP is the national certificate and it’s the accreditation more employers want along with some experience,” she said.

Ages of student range from 25 to 55, she said, noting safety management isn’t an add-on or compensation job “for old Joe who has three fingers and a thumb and became the safety manager by circumstance.”

Alberta Gets Tough OHS Laws and Compliance


By the end of this year, Alberta’s Ministry of Human Services will have 132 workplace safety inspectors on the road, a 29.3 per cent increase since 2011, when the rate of lost time injuries spiked for the first time in 10 years.

Beefing-up the province’s safety inspection force was prompted, in part, by the unprecedented growth in urban commercial and new home residential construction across the province in recent years, according to Brookes Merritt, a ministry spokesperson.

More recently and especially now, he added, the development of the oil sands reserves in the Wood Buffalo region in the North, which includes Fort McMurray, has imposed a greater need for safety inspectors who can specialize in mining safety, construction safety, as well as transportation and forestry safety.

The officers are mobile and are deployed throughout the province in numbers commensurate with the level of activity in a given industry, depending on the industry, he added.

“Statistically, these industries are among the most hazardous work environments,” Merritt stated in an email. “The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) department’s focus on these sectors, in addition to upstream oil and gas industries, and the health and safety of young workers, reflects the rapid pace of economic development in this region.

This new, expanded and specialized safety inspection team will not only continue to conduct and report on their Focused Inspection Campaigns as they always have in the workplaces of employers with “historically less-than-stellar health and safety records,” Merritt said. “We do this through various methods:

a)    By repeating inspections of known non-compliers to ensure previous commitments to improve health and safety are being met;
b)    The Employer Review Process holds Certifying Partners accountable for ensuring conditions of certification are maintained;
c)    The Employer Injury and Illness Prevention Program identifies specific employers with a Disabling Injury Rate that is at least 2.5 times greater than the provincial average. This program pairs employers with OHS officers whose goal Is to educate them about the legislation, and assist them in developing health and safety practices that will reduce injury rates.

Merritt said, “I can tell you the most frequent cause of injury is ‘slips, trips, and falls’ a large proportion of which are due to the failure to wear PPE when working from heights. Falling from heights is the most consistently reported workplace injury in the construction sectors.”

Now, safety inspectors will have additional responsibilities, heightened authority and will be indispensible in enforcing the Ministry’s tough new OHS legislation, Bill 6, the Protections and Compliance Statutes Amendments Act, which affects the Occupational Health and Safety Act and two other pieces of legislation.

In October 2012, when it was first introduced, Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said, “There will be no more slaps on the wrist in Alberta; a worker or employer who puts health and safety at risk, or is misleading or unfair in their business dealings, will be held accountable.”

According to Bill 6, which passed in December 2012, Alberta’s OHS department can levy “administrative penalties” against employers for up to $10,000 per day if they break the law and to workers for hundreds of dollars through a ticketing system for on-the-spot safety violations.

Details of Alberta’s provisions for ticketing and penalty systems are currently being developed, but the “administrative penalties are expected to begin being levied this fall,” Merritt said. “Ticketing – which requires retraining for officers – is expected to begin implementation next spring.”

Industry reaction to Bill 6 “has been ‘muted’ thus far, Merritt stated. “Industry and labour organizations have been accepting of the changes, but we have yet to see what reactions will be once penalties are levied.”

A few sparks were flying, however, the week after Bill 6 was first announced. In a November 1, 2012 Calgary Herald news story, written by former Herald reporter Kelly Cryderman, the Alberta Construction Association (ACA), which represents 2,000 construction companies, strongly opposed the new administrative penalties and ticketing system.

“There’s a presumption that employers are the bad guys, and we’ll just ramp up the fines and we’ll fix those bad guys,” Ken Gibson, ACA executive director is quoted as saying. “It’s not evidence-based. There is no suggestion we can see that it actually is going to work.”

Not all businesses or labour groups opposed these penalties, Cryderman wrote.

“At the end of the day, workplace safety is primarily the responsibility of employers and government, as regulator,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Furthermore, Dave Fennell, senior safety advisor for Imperial Oil Resources said, “Right now there are employers in the province of Alberta who are not taking safety seriously,” citing one week last fall when five Alberta workers died on separate job sites.

Of six Alberta safety experts consulted only one was willing to comment on Bill 6 – Edmonton-based safety consultant and best-selling author Alan D. Quilley, CRSP of Safety Results.

“The model of crime and punishment hasn’t worked really well in other areas of law…speeders continue, distracted drivers really haven’t changed their behaviour, banks still get robbed and the war on drugs…well we know how that’s working,” Quilley said. “This appears that the government is doing something…mission accomplished, from the government’s point of view.

“Lasting change rarely comes from these types of ‘enforcement’ interventions. It does increase the discussions about the need for safety management, so that’s a positive thing,” he said.




Young Workers: Safety Training

Young workers

Safety training can never start early enough. Most jurisdictions have instituted training programs at the high school level which integrate and partner with local school boards.

Alberta, B.C. and Ontario structure the programs as a path toward apprenticeship. Students sign up as interns and then spend time both in class and at training centres learning basic skills. Safety training is the first class and it’s something repeated throughout the program.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1946 in London, Ontario, has just completed construction of their new offices and training facility and part of the curriculum will be devoted to high schoolers.

Kevin Hoy, Local 1946 coordinator said the safety training starts immediately on commencement. “Right off the start we get WMIS Fall arrest training, falls being the biggest risk, then chemical burns. Then things like scissor lift training and scaffolding and swing stage.”

The in-house training allows for a controlled environment and fewer distractions. Basic training for young and new workers seems to work best when it includes experiential learning opportunities.

“With scaffolding, which is big for us given we lost four people in a collapse in Toronto in 2009, for example, sometimes it’s better to let them make mistakes. I was watching a group of kids put up scaffolding and they were doing it wrong but we waited until the end to point it out. They weren’t happy because they had to take it all down and do it again – which was a few hours – but they’ll probably never forget the lesson,” says Hoy.

The benefit of basic training can never be over emphasized but there’s also a bigger picture to consider. Some of the key areas identified in reaching out to the young/new worker segment are leadership and behavioural modification.

According to Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA: “There are rules and we live in a rule based society. You may not break the rules at the job site but you might speed driving to work. The issue is that we’re really not good as a whole being complaint with the rules.”

In Lyth’s experience the danger is that safety rules can incrementally erode for a variety of reasons, among them is the misplaced belief that getting the job done faster is beneficial to the worker and the company even if it entails unsafe behaviour.

“A worker may become more compliant with rules if the crew or organization culture holds safety as an integrated value,” he says. “So that they will stop and tell the young worker that while he may have saved 15 minutes by jumping over a barrier to get somewhere it was safer to walk around. That there’s no value in risking safety for work.”

The Culture of Safety

Key to that culture of safety, Lyth argues, is leadership as opposed to management.

  • Management directs assignment and assesses quality and acceptability of completion within specified time lines.
  • Leadership demonstrates forward thinking and holistic thinking, imparts cultural values and sets a tone.

If safety is tantamount within the leadership it is a value which is better imparted to the entire organization or crew. As such, Lyth says, leadership training is an important facet of any Health and Safety program. He runs a Supervisors Bootcamp to ensure supervisors not only get the right training, they develop the right thought processes.

Some of the ideas covered in the course include advice on how to assist employers to tackle the most important and emerging issues facing business operations today such as:

  •  Greater productivity and quality outcomes;
  •  Greater safety program effectiveness;
  •  Greater protection from the risks associated with Bill 14 with bullying & harassment prevention, and psychological well-being in the workplace.

Participants are given a leadership ‘tool kit’ comprised of the simplest but most effective leadership concepts, from which they can effectively build and develop their own leadership style, specific to themselves and their environment.

They will also take self-assessment questionnaires and participate in exercises based on the actual crews they lead. Participants will leave the session with their baselines established, reference materials and course content, and specific yet practical leadership goals set for them to work towards.

Training supervisors is often overlooked, Lyth adds: “We just looked at a study which found the average manager or supervisor didn’t get leadership training until an age of 42 years old.”

Tailoring the message of safety to young workers is a critical part of safety training since young workers respond differently than older workers given their general inexperience at any workplace.


Young Workers: Accident Prevention

Young worker on construction site, selective focus on face

Young workers – defined by Statistics Canada as between 15 to 24 years old – and new workers – those either starting a second career or new Canadians who have less than six months on the job or are new to a task– are the most likely to be involved in an accident on a construction site.

In 2010, 31,000 young workers suffered injuries at work and most tragically, 23 young people were killed at work. Every hour of every single day in Canada, 4 or 5 young workers are injured at work, badly enough to book off.

Between 2006 and 2010, 34 young workers died in work-related incidents, according to Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics. During the same time period, more than 46,000 young workers received injuries resulting in lost time at work.

There are many reasons for this ranging from inexperience, poor training, and inadequate supervision to the inherent nature of the workers themselves who may be either more risk tolerant or be more likely to accept and bear risk because they wanted acceptance.

Accident Prevention

Preventing accidents among this demographic requires a combination of approaches which blend technology-driven training programs with face-to-face mentoring. It must also address the leadership training of direct field supervisors and the behavioural nature of young people.

These concepts are:

  • Knowledge (training, orientation, legal)
  • Leadership (transformational leadership through training)
  • Culture (everyone is responsible for safety, everyone goes home)
  • Empowerment (the right to say no, the right to ask questions without fear)

Among the best practices identified (above and beyond legal requirements for orientation, training and certification):

  • An onsite mentoring program which identifies new workers with a “green hand sticker” and volunteer experienced workers with a “gold hand” sticker (CSABC) where young workers are not stigmatized for asking questions and are not offended when experienced workers step in to offer instruction.
  • A program to train supervisors in leadership in contrast to management.
  • A concept to train supervisors to recognize higher risk personality traits and to work with groups to contain and mitigate those tendencies.
  • An online program which identifies risks associated with a particular job task or construction sector which then walks the trainee through them and requires them to answer questions to demonstrate learning.
  • Trades-led and school-partnered internship training programs in high schools which identify students thinking about careers in construction and begin with safety training programs (Ontario, Alberta, BC).
  • Specific young worker and new worker orientation and training programs.
  • Certificate program recognition for safety related behaviours.
  • Sector specific (roofing, electrical etc.) training programs for targeted workers.

Safety Awareness

Safety awareness is a function of age, experience, training and personality which is mitigated by the effect of knowledge, leadership, culture and empowerment.

Safety training and reinforcement is not only a basic legal requirement in all jurisdictions across Canada, it is also a moral requirement and imperative, as Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA notes, citing the safety sector mantra: “Everyone goes home safely.”

In traveling to China to give presentations at conferences on risks posed by large cohorts of migrant workers he notes:

“Marginalized workers include migrant workers and new and young workers and the risks are higher globally for this group no matter what the culture.”

He argues that the unique combination of the regulatory and insurance agencies in B.C. gives health and safety legislation, investigation and enforcement more power and reach.

All jurisdictions across Canada have minimum basic requirement for worker training. Some are mandatory; few are geared specifically to young workers.

Some have online programs which identify specific hazards and risks associated with specific jobs and jobsites. Some involve certification to establish a baseline of knowledge and awareness.

The Construction Safety Association of Ontario maps out requirements under Section 27 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and offers tips:

1) Give the new worker a copy of the company health and safety policy.
2) Explain the project and the worker’s duties.
3) Alert the worker to any hazards on site and the protective measures required.
4) Explain requirements for personal protective equipment.
5) Outline procedures for emergencies and accident reporting.
6) Show the worker where to find first aid kit, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.
7) Introduce the new worker to his or her supervisor.
8) Show the new worker around the site.