Raising Health And Safety Awareness In The Construction Sector
Development and Innovation Working in construction involves dealing with ever-changing hazards: new technologies, newly developed work practices, and projects that are constantly evolving.
It’s unlike any other workplace in Ontario and comes with a unique variety of challenges with regard to creating a safe and healthy work environment.
According to the Prevention Office, the construction sector is responsible for 30 percent of the allowed traumatic fatalities in Ontario workplaces. That’s a significant tally for an industry sector that represents a mere 6 percent of Ontario’s entire workforce.
The Ministry of Labour (MOL) in conjunction with the Prevention Office have an action plan in place to target key areas of the construction sector that continuously produce the highest rate of lost-time injuries (LTIs) and fatalities. Focusing primarily on small businesses, vulnerable workers and high-hazard jobs, they hope to put the same prevention model in place that had a very high success rate in the mining sector.
With the same results in mind for the construction sector, the MOL keeps up-to-date on working conditions with the assistance of the Section 21 Committee for construction, which is sponsored by the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) and consists of representatives of labour, industry, and the Ontario government.
"The construction sector can be proud of the fact that their LTI rate has been steadily decreasing over the last 10 years (from 2.34 in 2005 to 1.13 in 2014)"
Although there are many construction companies contributing to the health and safety of their workers, the Prevention Office is looking to the industry itself and to associations like IHSA for help in promoting the messaging and programs that are being put in place to raise public consciousness about the importance of safe and healthy workplaces in Onario.
Setting the example
The construction sector can be proud of the fact that their LTI rate has been steadily decreasing over the last 10 years (from 2.34 in 2005 to 1.13 in 2014)*. However, the high number of fatalities in the sector demonstrates that the work has been and continues to remain a high-risk one. Continuing to do what was done in the past doesn’t seem to be working. That’s why the construction sector will begin to see new regulations and training standards being put forward by the Prevention Office. By putting processes in place such as the Working at Heights Training Standard, a course of action has already begun which targets “falls from heights” in an effort to reduce the fatalities and injuries associated with this hazard.
The next standard on the agenda for the sector will be mandatory entry-level training for construction workers. This may be just the incentive the construction sector needs to make real change, to solve many of its unique challenges, and to transform this “high-risk” work into a healthy, safe, and prosperous career path for the next generation.