Good things don’t always happen all at once — they happen according to the timeline required to build consensus. This year marks the 20th anniversary of construction industry safety associations in BC, a first step that culminated in the merger of the Construction Safety Association of B.C. (CSABC) and the Construction Safety Network (CSN) into the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) in 2010. The success of that union continues to be recognized today, both by the construction industry and by the people who oversaw and managed that transition.
As then-president of the Council of Construction Associations (COCA) in 1997, Grant McMillan recalls a landscape of increasing injuries and assessment rates in B.C.
“In Alberta, Nova Scotia and to some extent Ontario, they were reducing injuries and disease,” he says. “In those provinces, construction safety associations appeared to be making the difference.”
Two construction safety associations — the CSABC and the CSN — soon formed in B.C., founded by employers who were all working toward a safer construction workplace.
Joe Wrobel, president of JPW Road & Bridge Inc., recalls approaching employers to join what became the CSN.
“It was such a new idea that many thought I was trying to recruit them to join the roadbuilders’ organization,” he recalls. “But we got some traction when we shared the idea that we were building an organization that was industry-driven to share safety ideas and information for the betterment of all.”
Both organizations achieved success in improving worker safety, he says. But having achieved success and looking to join forces, they wanted to ensure that their progress would be preserved and built upon.
Wayne Fettback, director of safety and procurement, Western Pacific Enterprises Ltd., promoted the merger as board chair of the CSABC.
“Competing for the attention of WorkSafeBC wasn’t a very productive environment,” he says. “But the merger involved many leaps of faith. At the beginning, John Van Dyk, chair of CSN, and I didn’t even know each other very well. But we were united in our mutual understanding of the need to promote safety. The result is that the Alliance has grown into one of the leading construction safety associations in the country.”
Tammy Oliver, senior director, BCCSA has been a part of the CSN and the Alliance since they were founded. For her, a hallmark of the successful merger has been maintaining the voices of all members of the industry.
“A priority was to ensure that the voices of both organizations were not lost and that the influence of the employer groups within them were distinctly recognized,” she says. “Representation of those industries in the structure of our board of directors has been maintained, just as we honour the selection of board members by the groups they represent. Both organizations were successful in their missions. Working together, they’ve become even more successful.”
Jack Davidson was president of the BC Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association from 1999 to 2017.
“The Alliance started on solid footing as an independent, authoritative voice for safety,” he says. “It’s come even further since then, yet the roadbuilders’ voice in the BCCSA is just as strong as ever. If you participate, you will be heard.”
The executive director of the BCCSA, Mike McKenna, agrees.
“Under the Alliance, everyone around the table is heard, even as the organization speaks with one voice,” he says. “Together we continue to have greater clout and the financial contributions of our members have greater heft as we pursue evidence-based initiatives to keep workers safer.”
This content is an Industry Special by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit www.bccsa.ca.