Fanshawe College’s Building Technology program will be incorporating the Safety Pass tool as an assignment in its occupational health and safety course for about 600 students starting this fall.
The Safety Pass is an interactive, online health and safety tool that provides basic orientation training for the construction workforce in an effort to make the industry safer. The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) helped develop the tool with other industry partners. The idea behind the pass is that it will be required by certain contractors and subtrades for all onsite workers. Once the worker completes the program, they have one certification as they move from site to site and contractor to contractor.
Leslie Selinger, environment health and safety technologist at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., and a part time occupational health and safety instructor for the Building Technology program, said she found out about the Safety Pass from the OGCA’s newsletter in May and immediately contacted them to find out more.
“I clicked on it and I started investigating it and I said ‘oh my gosh this is absolutely amazing,’ ” explained Selinger, who is also on the executive for the London Women in Construction Group, which operates under the London District Construction Association umbrella. She has spent 30 years in the field of health and safety and the past 19 years at Fanshawe, teaching part-time for 12 years.
“I contacted the OGCA and said ‘is this something students can do’ because I wanted to add it into my class.
“I had to take it to the dean and the chair of Building Technology and see if they were on board. I got the email back and the chair said it sounds like a great idea, anything that helps our students achieve industry recognized credentials would be a significant benefit.”
The OGCA is pleased the college has adopted the Safety Pass.
“Safety Pass is a great tool for new workers whom are just entering the industry,” said David Frame, director of government relations for the OGCA, in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “It shows the need for a construction orientation program, not just for workers but for anyone who may need to be on a construction site. We are seeing evidence that in many cases, new construction workers may be the safest if they are aware of the hazards and are given the training and are supported by management.”
Students in the trades and construction related programs at Fanshawe will be required to take the course and do the assignment to get the Safety Pass. This includes civil engineering technology, architectural technology, plumbing techniques, construction engineering management, carpentry techniques, carpenter apprentices and the pre-tech program at transportation technology.
“What I want to do is get rid of one of the assignments in the course and make this an assignment,” said Selinger. “It will be a pass/fail — either they complete it or they don’t. The one thing that we’re always looking at are ways to give our students a leg up and to make them more employable and of course to keep them safe as well. This is a win-win for everyone involved.”
According to Frame, the program provides awareness of the 13 most common hazards in the industry and introduces the need to receive additional training for programs such as WHIMIS or working at heights. Through the program, students will learn the fundamental principle around managing and identifying health and safety hazards, assessment of risks, control of these risks and review of control measures associated with the construction sector.
“The nice thing I like about the Safety Pass is that it’s free, there is no cost to the students,” said Selinger. “I really like that it’s interactive because…it’s too easy to zone out. It’s sad but let’s face it, most people think ‘health and safety, how boring,’ but in reality it’s so very important. Everyone has the right to go home with all their parts at the end of the day.”
She also liked the fact it is transferable.
“The other good thing is, from what I understand, they actually have a database where they keep this information so it will actually follow the person no matter where they go for their job,” said Selinger, adding another great feature is that general contractors and many subtrades in the province will soon require their workers to complete the Safety Pass before working onsite.