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Bridging the Gap safety conference to tackle new trends in October

Warren Frey
Bridging the Gap safety conference to tackle new trends in October

One of the Lower Mainland’s safety stalwarts is tackling new territory as it brings its community together.

The British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) will hold the Bridging the Gap safety conference on Oct. 25 and 26 at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.

The keynote speaker for the opening evening event is Terry O’Reilly, the host of CBC Radio’s “Under the Influence,” which examines modern branding and advertising techniques.

“We asked him to come in as a keynote speaker because safety people generally have a hard time explaining the value proposition of what they do to ‘the money,’ meaning owners, general contractors and other stakeholders,” said BCCSA president Mike McKenna.

“People tend to see safety as something they have to do or as a ‘bolt on.’ We’re having him come in to explain to safety professionals how to tell their story.”

Another highlight of the conference, McKenna said, is Past, Present and Future — Women in Construction, a panel featuring LNG Canada workforce development manager Tracey MacKinnon, BC Tradeswomen Society president Lisa Langevin, Mott Electric president Dan Mott and skilled tradesperson Goretti Guilbault.

“We’re doing the panel in recognition of the increased number of women already onsite, and because we want to get more women involved on worksites. We need a female perspective onsite,” McKenna said.

“The best groups I’ve worked with in the industry have been equal parts male and female.”

A new session this year presented by Dr. Lionel Laroche will deal with navigating multicultural workplaces.

“We want to look into how to be sensitive in the new milieu people are working within. It’s not uncommon to hear multiple languages on an Industrial Commercial Institutional project, and it’s a new and emerging trend people want to hear about,” McKenna said.

B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains will open the conference and McKenna said the minister is an appropriate choice given possible upcoming changes to Workers’ Compensation Board documentation. In early January, the WorkSafeBC board of directors decided to begin a review of the Workers’ Compensation Board’s Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual, Volume II, the policy manual by which worker compensation claims are determined in B.C. In April, a report was submitted to WorkSafeBC with proposed changes, which the board is currently reviewing.

“People don’t often understand how good our system is,” McKenna said, adding former WorkSafeBC director of corporate planning and research and current independent consultant Terry Bogyo will also hold a session on the same topic.

“Bogyo is going to do a presentation on the value of the Workers’ Compensation Board here in B.C. Employers have the lowest insurance and workers have the best benefits.”

“We should make changes from an informed position, not out of emotion or how political pundits say it should be done,” McKenna explained.

While the Bridging the Gap conference has been held for many years, control of the event only recently went from WorkSafeBC to the BCCSA, though McKenna said his association was involved in planning the conference before taking it over.

“It was handled by WorkSafeBC for 12 to 13 years, and they approached the BCCSA three years ago to take it over. We’ve been participants in planning right from the get-go, but for the past three years we’ve put our own fingerprints on it,” he said.

Previously the conference would run on Saturday, which McKenna said at the time allowed safety officers to get offsite.

“But we changed that format because now even Saturdays are building days, and over and above that we maintain the belief that we don’t want to take people offsite for more than a day,” he said. “So we shortened the conference from two days to a day-and-a-half, starting with a ‘night launch.’ ”

The venue was changed from hotels around Richmond to the Italian Cultural Centre for practical reasons, he added.

“We wanted to provide better access for people in our industry. Guys can’t get their trucks into underground parking,” McKenna said.

Attendance is a measure of the success of the conference, he added, and “if the industry takes money out of their jeans to hear what we have to say, that’s a good sign.

“As an association it’s our number one goal to provide health and safety awareness, and we see this conference as a way to do that in a different format. It also brings industry people together to interact and share ideas, which is a real win as well,” McKenna said.

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