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OGCA to introduce online safety orientation program

Angela Gismondi
OGCA to introduce online safety orientation program

The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) is launching a new safety tool for all general contractors, subtrade associations and industry leaders who want to reduce training time and costs through one cohesive online health and safety orientation program.

According to the OGCA, the Safety Pass is a generic health and safety awareness program, delivered and tracked online. The pass will be required for all onsite workers and once the worker is accredited they won’t require retraining as they move from site to site.

Every GC and subcontractor needs to provide safety orientation to workers when they go onsite, explains David Frame, director of government relations for the OGCA, adding members approached the association and asked why this is being done individually.

"We take the approach that safety is not proprietary, so let’s develop one training orientation course that can be used for everybody. By doing that, you make sure that all of the requirements are covered off, that it’s high quality and that it’s portable as well," said Frame. "When a worker takes the course, they are recognized as having taken the course and passed the requirements on the course and that status exists for three years. If they go to any other job, they can show that they have the Safety Pass and they don’t need the basic orientation. They simply need the site specific orientation to be able to work on the job." An educational session on the Safety Pass is being held at Construct Canada 2017 — The Buildings Show on Nov. 29 from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre South Building. The OGCA will also have a booth at the three-day event which runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

The Safety Pass is similar to a program developed and delivered in Manitoba. As such, the OGCA has been working closely with the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba. They are also working with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, five OGCA member companies and the BC Construction Safety Alliance to put the program in place.

It includes 13 training modules, each with a quiz at the end. Participants are required to get every question right before moving on and the course is expected to take two to three hours for someone with an average knowledge of construction health and safety, Frame added.

So far the pass has been adopted by GCs of all sizes including PCL, EllisDon, Alberici, AECON, Walsh, Bird, GenPro, Stuart Olson; Gilliam Group and W.S. Morgan. The OGCA is working to expand the program through its membership and the goal is for it to trickle down to the subtrades as well. They are also hoping to get input from the public on what they want to see included in the program. Construct Canada is an opportunity to provide feedback.

"We believe that it’s going to become an industry standard over the next year or two," Frame explained, adding the OGCA is still developing the program and is planning to test it online in January and roll it out in February.

"As we’re getting ready to roll it out, we want people to be aware of it. We want people to look at it and make the decision are they going to adopt it as their safety orientation program. We want them to challenge what we’ve got.

"We’re giving people some opportunity to push back or make some requests of the program as we’re fine tuning it."

Frame said the program is meant to make safety accreditation more efficient.

"The old style is to complete a course online and then get a card and to carry that card around," Frame noted. "The average construction worker right now is carrying around four or five cards and it’s just not practical — you lose a card and if you don’t have a card with you, most contractors will require you to repeat the class and it doesn’t make sense."

The program being completely online is also convenient, stated Frame.

"You will register online, you will do the course online, it will be confirmed online that you have met the requirements of the course and that information will be made available to you and to any employer who you want to have that information," he said, adding the course and registration will be free for now but that may change. "We’re doing it to get it up and running and to get people buying into it. There may be a cost to the course down the line. In a year we’ll review it and reconsider that point."

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