March 2015

Canadian Safety Initiatives Kick-Off Meetings in Alberta

November 3-4, 2014 marked the first “Canadian Ironworkers Safety and Health Roundtable Meetings” that were held in Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta. As part of General President Walter Wise’s commitment to the “Zero Incident-Fatality” See Something! Say Something! campaign that he established in January of 2012, Jeff Norris, Iron Worker member of Local 720 (Edmonton, Alberta) was appointed as Canadian safety coordinator and district representative. Jeff is assisting members and contractors on safety and health issues and will host future Canadian ironworkers safety and health roundtable meetings in provinces throughout Canada.

Jeff Norris, Canadian safety coordinator said, “It is time to establish a proactive labour-management reputation in the ironworking industry across Canada. We need to address incident trends and pursue a course of action to increase safety performance.” The objective for the Canadian ironworkers safety and health roundtable meetings is to build on the achievements of the Iron Workers Union and signatory contractors with the goal to work together to achieve a healthier and safer workplace. To accomplish this, an agenda was established to enable an open forum to discuss the many existing safety and health problems and issues facing us today and then to determine the necessary solutions, actions, policies and programs. The results will be healthier workplaces for our members and our contractors’ employees into the future. 

Darrell LaBoucan, general vice president and executive director of Canadian affairs, welcomed the many contractor owners, managers, safety and health representatives, supervisors, various association representatives, government and local union representatives in attendance. He reinforced that our combined involvement as leaders in the ironworking industry will result in very successful forum.

During the Alberta meetings, General President Walter Wise welcomed attendees through a video address from Washington, D.C. General President Wise stated, “Since 2001, regulatory implementation of Subpart R has drastically decreased the number of accidents and injuries in the ironworking industry. We hope to get many of those same regulations put in place in Canada. And most importantly, anything we can measure, we can improve…and when we all work together with a common goal in mind, the mutual benefit is untold, and we will reach zero fatalities and zero incidents.”

Steve Rank, executive director of the safety and health department, provided a summary of the “Deadly Dozen” hazardous activities that continue to result in serious injuries and fatalities to our members. Steve pledged his full support to assist Jeff Norris and has been directed from General President Wise to commit resources and the time to assist our members and contractors. There are many safety and health issues warranting the attention of the Canadian ironworkers safety and health roundtable. During future meetings throughout Canada, Steve will provide assistance.

Feedback From Labour-Management Representatives – Jeff Norris obtained objective concerns and recommendations from signatory contractors that included the following items:

• Cost of setting up safety programs
• Employee complacency and convincing members to be responsible for safety behaviors
• Compliance with safety policies & failure to use safety equipment
• Reporting of incidents
• Time vs. cost-How far will owners push safety relating to cost?
• Employer assessed “risk tolerance” 
• Consistent training for workforce with a focus the mobility of workers
• Lack of consistency among owners policies and rules
• Aging workforce (the need for recruitment of new, younger people)
• Maintaining “old school” standards, while implementing “new school” that has to make sense 
• Maintaining a high level of productivity, safety and productivity a part of good planning
• Language barrier, mostly at entry level (puts pressure on supervisors)
• Updating the apprenticeship program to reflect industry changes
• High level of training requirements for members to stay updated (journeyman)

Ross Nairne, executive director of Alberta occupational health and safety policy and program development, provided an update on the legislative framework, the act amendments including ticketing and administrative penalties and the 2015 Alberta code review. Proposed regulatory changes cover about 300 existing sections and 30 new sections and one-third of the code (currently has 849 sections). Nairne stated that a majority of the Alberta code changes pertain to technical standards (e.g. CSA) updates and wording changes for clarification. More Alberta occupational health and safety information can be found at: www.worksafe.alberta.ca.

The International Association will continue our “2015 ZERO INCIDENT-FATALITY CAMPAIGN” to increase safety performance and help protect our members in the field and shop. This goal challenges all members to “See Something! Say Something!” to help recognize and avoid workplace hazards. Both Jeff Norris and I will continue to work closely with district councils, local unions and IMPACT regional advisory boards throughout the United States and Canada to help improve safety performance. If I can provide any assistance, please contact me at the Safety and Health Department at (800) 368-0105. If you require assistance in Canada, please contact Jeff Norris, Canadian safety coordinator at (780) 717-0071.