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Commentary: January-February 2011

Getting Safer


February 10, 2011
By Bill Tice


Topics

As we all know, working in the aggregates or the roadbuilding industry
can be dangerous. So what is being done to reduce injury rates and to
improve safety standards?

As we all know, working in the aggregates or the roadbuilding industry can be dangerous. So what is being done to reduce injury rates and to improve safety standards? It’s a good question, and one that is regularly being asked by industry groups and associations, along with governments.

In 2007 in British Columbia, that question was front and centre for the Aggregate Producers Association of BC. It was faced with four fatal accidents in less than eight months, which was a statistic it needed to change.

The tragic events of 2007 brought the APABC, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources, and the Construction Safety Network together in the provincial capital of Victoria, where the three groups worked to form a committee tasked with the job of developing and distributing an educational program to refresh and upgrade safety awareness among all aggregate producers in the province. And, they had to have it completed in one year.  Since then, they have taken additional steps to make it easier for companies to participate, including bringing the program to workers and groups through online formats. On page 37 of this issue of Aggregates & Roadbuilding, you can read more about this from the APABC.

In Manitoba, the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) plays a huge role in safety. The almost 70-year old trade association that represents 700 of the province’s contractors, including those in the aggregate production and roadbuilding industries, initiated a heavy construction industry specific safety and heath training program back in the 1990s. Prior to that, the MHCA says it was “a hit and miss approach to safety and environmental training,” and even when companies did send workers for safety training, it was general training and “usually not specific to the heavy construction industry.”

Manitoba moved forward, and after trying several different types of programs and addressing feedback from MHCA member companies, they settled on an amalgamated program under one banner, called the Safety Health Environmental Program (SHEP). As part of SHEP, Manitoba contractors can achieve COR certification, and although it is not mandatory for contractors in Manitoba to have COR certification, it is becoming commonplace for companies to include this as a requirement in RFPs when seeking bids from contractors. One of the reasons this program has been successful, is the MHCA has made it easier for contractors to participate by offering courses in the off season and removing other barriers that have prevented companies from participating in the past.

Safety in this business is crucial as one mistake when working around large equipment can be fatal. One of the biggest challenges for companies today is finding the human resources to administer and implement safety programs. But by going online, as they have done in B.C., and eliminating barriers as Manitoba has done, we are one step closer to reducing workplace injuries and fatalities in the aggregates and roadbuilding industries.


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