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OGCA leadership conference continues its focus on the changing safety climate

Angela Gismondi
OGCA leadership conference continues its focus on the changing safety climate

This year’s annual COR Open House and Leadership Conference, hosted by the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA), will provide construction leaders and safety professionals with the information they need to navigate the changing safety climate and effectively manage their safety program, says the association’s director of government relations.

“The overall focus is about the industry taking a leadership role in health and safety. That’s always our theme,” explained David Frame. “It’s really about the industry taking responsibility for health and safety, supporting each other on health and safety and understanding and getting ready for what is new.”

The conference will be held Friday, March 1 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Verdi Convention Centre in Mississauga, Ont. The day will be attended by construction owners, senior operators and health and safety professionals.

“It’s a great day to network and they’re going to learn a lot about how to implement health and safety,” said Frame, adding a lot of the discussion revolves around Certificate of Recognition (COR) certification.

COR is a health and safety audit tool and training program that has gained traction in Ontario over the past decade. Certification is granted by the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA). The event aims to answer a number of questions about COR such as how can COR support your safety program? How will the Ministry of Labour recognize COR certification in the employer accreditation program? And which buyers will now require COR certification?

Speakers include George Bell, vice-president of safety and security for Metrolinx, who will discuss the new safety expectations at the organization.

“The Metrolinx presentation will be groundbreaking in terms of how far an owner is going to go in terms of making safety a requirement…there are some important changes happening,” Frame said. “A big part of the scoring for Metrolinx is on safety. Being COR certified just gets you to the table, it doesn’t qualify you for health and safety.”

A lot of the discussion will focus on fitness for duty and the use of drugs and alcohol.

“Contractors will have to adopt their fit for duty policy,” said Frame. “It includes testing under some circumstances and it includes a requirement that all the workers do not use cannabis.

“Anybody going to work for Metrolinx is going to have to attest that none of their workers are cannabis users. We know this is going to be a challenge but these requirements are coming down on our industry.”

Lynda Robson, a scientist at the Institute for Work and Health, will reveal the results of a study on the Working at Heights regulations and training standard.

“We continue to have a rate of workers dying from fall from heights that has been high for the last few years,” Frame noted. “There are concerns that we have trained half a million people and haven’t had the returns we would like.”

MPP Jane McKenna will provide an update on the new government’s initiatives and Ron Kelusky, Ontario’s chief prevention officer, will provide an update on the health and safety direction and discuss opportunities for the construction industry.

Leslie Williamson, manager of purchasing and risk services for the Town of Milton, will talk about the municipality adopting COR as a requirement.

The day will also include a leadership panel, chaired by Rob Ellis of MySafeWork, featuring the speakers discussing the topics covered during the conference and other safety issues.

In terms of awards, Elizabeth Witmer, chair of the WSIB, will be presented with the OGCA’s health and safety award.

The Doug Chalmers award for safety, will be presented to an individual or group, member company or association that has made significant contributions to the advancement of occupational health and safety in the construction industry.

Ellis will also welcome the newest members into the League of Champions, a joint program between the OGCA and MySafeWork intended to promote safety in construction and all industries. It recognizes those who have made health and safety contributions.

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