Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine – Issued – September 2010
A video of what appears to be unsafe work practices at a Calgary construction site has prompted an investigation by the province and action by municipal building officials.
The video,which surfaced in the media on July 7, is believed to have been shot by a worker last October at a condominium development site, confirms AEI spokesperson Barrie Harrison. The video captures one worker tossing a clamp to a co-worker across elevated scaffolding, Harrison says.
Kevin Griffiths, chief building official for Calgary, reports having been “extremely disappointed to see workers, professionals, acting in such a manner, and obviously, extremely shocked for the disregard for the safety of the public [and] the safety of the workers below.”
The actions may represent a violation of Section 189 of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code.
“If a worker may be injured if equipment or material is dislodged, moved, spilled or damaged, both the employer and the worker must take all reasonable steps to ensure the equipment or material is contained, restrained or protected to eliminate the potential danger,” the section states.
“When there’s activity like this going on — any sort of scaffolding construction — there should be some sort of safety netting beneath,” says Harrison. “In some cases, you may want the sidewalk or street below to be cordoned off,” he adds.
The video does not show any such protective measures, but Harrison emphasizes that no conclusions can be reached until AEI’s investigation has been completed.
The workers were employed by Edmonton-based Skyway Canada Ltd., Gary Carew, the company’s president and chief operating officer, confirms in an e-mail. Carew says that two of the workers in the video have been suspended without pay, pending completion of investigations by both Skyway Canada and AEI. The third worker recently left the company.
“Skyway Canada Ltd. is deeply disturbed by the images in the video,” Carew notes in a statement. “We do not condone the high-risk behaviour of the workers in this video. We have commenced a comprehensive investigation into this incident and will share the results when completed.”
Gary Wagar, executive director of the Alberta Construction Safety Association in Edmonton, says companies must manage the potential for horseplay. “There’s a culture in general in young people, not just in the construction industry, when it comes to horseplay,” Wagar says.
If AEI officers were authorized to issue oh&s fines on the spot, he suggests individuals might have more incentive to comply. “We’ve asked the government since 2002 to put administrative fines into play, as they are in Ontario, so that an officer can write a ticket to any individual that’s in violation of a number of different components of the [OH&S Act].” Wagar says.
Griffiths would like to see municipal fines increased for sites that endanger public and worker safety. “Everyone needs to do everything possible not to inflict any possible endangerment to the public, and in extension, to workers,” he says.
Everyone knows my opinion in this matter. Alberta has had years to get their act in place but chooses not to. A provincial review is a long time coming.
Health and safety does not have to be a costly venture in the employment world. Provincial fines would go a long way in the prevention of accidents, especially those that would have been easy to avoid.
If an employer knew they were going to be hit with a hefty fine the incentive would have been there right at the start to initiate safe work practices at the onset of the work project.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Scaffold Safety Awareness’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.