The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) has been working with general contractors to develop and finalize the Safety Pass, an online safety training tool expected to be rolled out in the new year which aims to provide basic, consistent orientation training for the workforce.
The Safety Pass was the topic of discussion at a session at Construct Canada’s The Buildings Show held recently in Toronto, which was attended by owners, contractors and subcontractors. The idea behind the pass is that it will be required by certain contractors for all onsite workers and once the worker completes the program, they have one certification as they move from site to site and contractor to contractor.
“We put the committee together, we got all the general contractors together and we looked at shared best practices and consistent practices, so as a worker moves from one site to another…they’ve got the same subcontractor safety guidelines, they’ve got the same set of rules and expectations,” explained Dan Fleming, director OH&S training at EllisDon Corporation, adding OGCA members brought their individual orientation programs to the table to help develop the tool.
About a year ago, David Frame, director of government relations for the OGCA, was approached by Fleming with an idea.
One of the barriers for a lot of the training is it’s time consuming and costly — this is neither,
— David Frame
“He said there is a real need in the industry for a basic orientation program for each and every contractor to be able to use in order to have continuity and to be able to communicate with your subs and workers about health and safety and to have some security that there is basic knowledge with each and every worker that comes on the site,” recalled Frame.
“The Safety Pass is going to provide consistent orientation for the workforce, it’s going to support big picture objectives including building a safety culture which is a big focus for us.”
The program does not replace project specific HSE orientations.
“We’re not saying this is going to eliminate the orientation, we’re saying it will be the general generic hazard awareness training consistently across the industry and more time spent on the site specific training,” explained Sean Scott, senior district HSE manager at PCL Toronto. “Anyone coming onto a construction site, they need to be aware…there are a whole bunch of regulations that stipulate what you need to do, be aware of, identify, communicate and control.”
He added construction safety orientation training systems are being developed and implemented in other provinces in Canada and Europe and have been successful.
The program is interactive and includes 13 modules which take approximately two to three hours to complete. The modules include: workplace law, hazard identification, hazard controls, fit for duty and conduct, WHMIS 2015 (GHS), powered mobile equipment, ladder and scaffold safety, fall protection, environmental safety, excavating and trenching, defensive driving, personal protective equipment and emergency response. A refresher would be recommended every three years.
An employer who registers with the program will have access to training certificates, notifications, updates and general reports, explained Frame. A worker who registers and completes the Safety Pass will have a digital certificate that he or she can view, print or share.
“We’re in the final stages right now of editing this, we are anticipating having it online for testing probably in late January and we want to roll it out by early March,” said Frame, adding the OGCA is also working on developing a “Safety Hub” consisting of tools, resources and best practices for general contractors. “The Safety Pass is the first of a number of products we’re going to have.”
The Ontario Ministry of Labour implemented mandatory awareness training for all workers a few years ago. According to Frame, the Safety Pass program meets the requirements plus provides additional information the OGCA believes is required for the construction industry. He explained the program is cost effective, especially for companies that send their employees to two or three training sessions per year.
“One of the barriers for a lot of the training is it’s time consuming and costly — this is neither,” Frame noted. “OGCA, at least initially, is offering this online training free of charge. We want this to spread through the industry and we don’t want to have any barriers.”
The program will be offered through Skill Pass, an online computer and software training company.
“It is an incredible system and it matches up extremely well with what we’re doing here,” said Frame. “They want to establish themselves in the Ontario market, so for the time being they are working with us to make this available to you cost free.”