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Safety Week Preview: Construction needs to value every voice

Angela Gismondi
Safety Week Preview: Construction needs to value every voice
CRAIG LESURF — The League of Champions runs a number of events throughout the week visiting jobsites, hosting breakfasts and lunches and giving talks to the crew. Pictured is an event from last year.

Valuing every voice is the theme of this year’s Construction Safety Week.

Held May 6 to 10, this year marks the 10th anniversary and will feature events designed to promote worker safety and wellness.

2024 Construction Safety Week, an annual Initiative to promote industry safety runs May 6 to 10. This year’s theme is Value Every Voice: Encourage, Listen, Empower.
CRAIG LESURF — 2024 Construction Safety Week, an annual Initiative to promote industry safety runs May 6 to 10. This year’s theme is Value Every Voice: Encourage, Listen, Empower.

More broadly, the week itself, and the entire month of May, aims to raise awareness of the industry’s ongoing commitment to building a culture of safety through sharing best practices, tools and resources at jobsites and offices across the U.S. and Canada.

“The idea is every person on the job, regardless of the role, everybody has a responsibility. We take the initiative, be accountable, take ownership in things to make sure we keep everybody safe,” said Craig Lesurf, president of Gillam Group, past-chair of League of Champions and chair of the Ontario General Contractors Association’s Safety Committee. “That’s exactly the message of the League of Champions. Everybody needs to look after each other. If we do that we can all have a better chance of going home safe each and every day.”

He added, “We want to make sure that everybody is empowered to use their voice, make sure they’re heard.”

 

Value Every Voice

The theme Value Every Voice explores four components: driving personal ownership, encouraging and welcoming new ideas, embracing every voice, and strengthening the safety culture.

Lesurf said the industry has come a long way in terms of safety, especially over the last few years.

“The construction industry as a whole for the last three years is below the Schedule One employers for LTIs (lost time injuries),” Lesurf explained. “For the last three years the construction industry as a whole has been below the average of all the different workplaces. When you think about that, that’s pretty phenomenal.”

They also recently received statistics from the Labour-Management Network through the Ministry of Labour.

 

For the Fatality and Critical Injury Year-to-Date Overview – Construction, from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2023, there were three fatalities and 59 critical injuries.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 29, 2024 there were zero fatalities and 47 critical injuries. Monthly statistics from Feb. 1 to 28, 2023 show two fatalities and 22 critical injuries and from Feb. 1 to 29, 2024 there were zero fatalities and 28 critical injuries.

 

Workers sign the jerseys to reaffirm their commitment to working safe each and every day.
CRAIG LESURF — Workers sign the jerseys to reaffirm their commitment to working safe each and every day.

 

“The number of people getting hurt is much less, the fatalities are much less,” said Lesurf. “When you work as a team and share information and talk about stuff and bring it forefront you can make a difference. To tie it back to Safety Week and Safety Month, that’s what the objective is. Every day is safety day, every week is safety week, every month is safety month. However, sometimes you need to put a special emphasis on it to draw attention to it, to highlight it, to bring awareness and drive it home.”

Safety Week events are being held by the League of Champions as well as several companies, organizations and other groups in the industry. Some organize a breakfast, lunch or break with talks, draws, prizes and activities.

“It gives everybody time to take a break, think about safety, talk about safety and realize there’s more important things than just the job,” Lesurf said.

“It’s one of those things that builds a sense of camaraderie. It builds a sense of team.”

 

Fit for Duty is a focus of the League of Champions. To promote wellness, some jobsites have workers participate in warmups or stretches before beginning the day or during a break.
CRAIG LESURF — Fit for Duty is a focus of the League of Champions. To promote wellness, some jobsites have workers participate in warmups or stretches before beginning the day or during a break.

 

The League of Champions has been running a safety culture survey, Lesurf said.

“We’re encouraging companies to actually go out and get the pulse on their companies by doing this safety culture survey,” he noted. “By doing so you can bring your own awareness. Everybody’s got an unconscious bias sometimes when it comes to safety. They don’t know what they don’t know.”

A survey can expose things you didn’t know, he added.

The first Tuesday in May each year also marks Occupational Safety and Health Day for all workers in the province of Ontario, not just construction. This year it’s May 7.

The first week in May is also Mental Health Week. It will be observed May 6 to 12.

All workers and companies in the construction industry looking to participate in Construction Safety Week can access resources for free on the website, which includes promotional materials, discussion topics, event ideas, videos, at-home activities for families and materials translated into Spanish and French.

Follow the author on X/Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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