Ontario’s League of Champions, a cross-sectoral construction health and safety advocacy group founded in 2015, welcomed a new chair at its annual general meeting as co-founder Craig Lesurf ceded the position to recent vice-chair Dan Fleming.
Lesurf was praised for his efforts to get the LOC off the ground and then establish it as an organization independent of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) in 2020, while putting his personal leadership stamp on the group.
Lesurf, president of Gillam Group, recalled an early morning meeting he attended in New Orleans along with then OGCA leaders Clive Thurston, David Frame and Jason Ball where the idea of forming a health and safety group that would include construction stakeholders other than OGCA members was hatched.
As a sign of the LOC’s progress, Lesurf said, recent WSIB long-term-injury statistics show that most schedule one employers have an LTI rate of 1.25; for the construction sector as a whole, it is 1.1; and for LOC members the rate is 0.4.
“I will miss being chair of the LOC, I will give you that. But I’m still going to remain active and involved for years to come,” said Lesurf.
He explained after the meeting the succession was laid out in the LOC’s bylaws, and besides continuing to be involved with the LOC he is in line to become OGCA chair in two years.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Lesurf, who remains the chair of the OGCA’s health and safety committee.
“It’s time to have somebody else at the helm. And I’m sure they can drive us to new heights.”
The LOC AGM was held Sept. 20 at the offices of NORCAT in Mississauga. New chair Fleming is NORCAT’s GTA manager.
“Craig for many years has been a tireless advocate for health and safety in our industry and his commitment, dedication and countless hours devoted to the League of Champions has been instrumental in driving implementation of our initiatives and growing the organization,” Fleming remarked.
“Craig, your legacy is one of inspiration and progress that undoubtedly will continue to guide us towards safer workplaces.”
Lesurf noted the LOC board met in the spring to tweak the organization’s strategic plan for the post-COVID era and refocus its priorities. Its stated mission is “inspiring and influencing leaders to commit, collaborate and take action to improve safety culture through awareness, education, promotion and recognition leading to safer construction workplaces in Ontario.”
Members take a safety pledge and safety “champions” earn the right to wear an LOC jersey.
“We wanted to have a visual image and use it as a lever…and the jersey is there as a conversation starter,” said Lesurf. “What’s that all about?
“It’s a visual reminder that they’re supposed to work safe every day.”
The LOC has developed a series of safety culture webinars, created a Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT), participated in various industry health and safety events, developed Safety Month programming and initiated workplace visits to spread safety culture messages.
Lesurf said the LOC’s tweaked strategic plan includes efforts to boost awareness of safety culture; increase engagement and networking opportunities for members; promote safety-focused activities; look for funding opportunities to expand the LOC’s reach; boost the LOC’s presence at special events including its own; expand the S-CAT program; and improve communications and social media outreach.
Lesurf recalled one rally prior to COVID when 30 LOC members addressed 400 George Brown College students.
“When we told them they deserve to work for safe employers and that they have a right to refuse work, it’s a pretty powerful message,” he said.
Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer Dr. Joel Moody was on hand to offer greetings and spoke in praise of the S-CAT program. The LOC has had an impact on both employers and employees in helping to instil increased safety culture, he said.
“Health and safety is a team effort,” said Moody. “Health and safety is about how we find collaboration, how we work together in order to improve, at the end of the day, the workers’ environment and ensure safe work.”
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