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B.C. pump operator certification looks for global reach

Warren Frey
B.C. pump operator certification looks for global reach
WARREN FREY — Great Northern Management Consultants president Charles Kelly (left), BC Construction Safety Alliance executive director Mike McKenna and program manager Ammar Kavazovic were in Toronto at the Canadian Concrete Expo to present a session about the BCCSA’s concrete pump operator certification program.

A B.C. safety association is working to keep concrete pump operators safe at a global level.

British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) program manager Ammar Kavazovic and Great Northern Management Consultants president Charles Kelly presented “How Will the BC Operator Certification Program Affect You?” at the Canadian Concrete Expo held recently at the International Centre in Mississauga.

The concrete pump operator certification is the first program of its kind in North America and its genesis was an industry concern that voluntary certification wasn’t keeping concrete pump operators safe.

Kelly said it was industry that pushed for concrete pump industry regulation, which previously allowed anyone with a standard truck driver’s license to drive a concrete pumping vehicle off the lot and begin operations. Kelly said the industry’s view is that “the status quo is not an option.”

“It was industry leadership in both originally advocating for safety training and then this push to build a comprehensive certification program, that came from the concrete industry but was supported by all the other key players and contractors across the board in the construction industry,” Kelly said.

“It was industry led and designed, and all the expertise came from concrete pump companies or certification professionals,” he added.

The program is written to ISO and ANSI standards, meaning it can be used globally but also must be periodically audited.

“The key variable there is portability. Once you get certified as a competent pump operator, you don’t have to go back and do that certification again. You have to go back every five years and take a safety test because things change and people need to be reminded of safety. Once every five years isn’t particularly onerous to maintain a professional accreditation,” Kelly said.

“This is essentially portable, you can take this (certification) to Alberta, Ontario and eventually into the United States. It’s a major issue to raise the level of operator to a professional level and be seen and recognized from both a recruitment and status point of view that this is a recognized profession and they should be accorded the equal respect that’s associated with that,” he said.

Implementation of the program is a collaborative process, Kavazovic said.

“As far as B.C. is concerned, we’re using the partners we’ve used throughout the development of the program to market it and we’ve garnered a lot of industry support already so B.C. isn’t as much of a challenge for us, and in fact the industry asked for it and the regulators support it so they know what it is, what’s coming and likely in the near future it will become a mandatory regulated certification,” he said.

Kavazovic said he and Kelly were attending the conference to educate individuals and organizations outside of British Columbia about the standard and the program developed by the BCCSA.

“What we really need now is for folks to understand what it is, how it operates, and to know the BCCSA will remain the scheme owner so we’ll administer the program but within their individual jurisdictions we effectively need regional partners in order to bring the program forward and be accepted by industry and regulators alike in that jurisdiction,” Kavazovic said.

The entire program is administered online at ccpo.bccsa-services.ca, but the written test component can either be done online for $250 or in a classroom setting for $350, he added. The written exam is valid for 12 months, “so you have a full year from taking your written exam and move forward to do your practical assessments,” he added.

The practical exam is administered by a third party and costs are $1,500 apiece for five different types of pumps, Kavazovic said, and tests are done on the work site, where the test taker is observed while working the pumps.

“It’s not a disruption to the worker or the company to have to stop their operations and send someone off to a test centre to take the practical exam, we come to you, observe you in a real, live scenario and make you go through the entire process from setup to clean up for whatever level of pump you’re being certified to,” he said.

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