Blogging About Construction Safety

(Policy and GuideLines Can Change Without Notice

Blogging About Construction Safety is a collection of reports, reviews and testimonials regarding the Construction Safety Environment.  Submissions will be accepted and posted after a review has be been undertaken. Fiction, non fiction, current events, reports and Tool Box Talks will be acceptable and must be about Occupational Health and Safety in the Construction Industry. However, Manufacturing, Transportation, Mining, and Oil & Gas will also be accepted.

Blogging About Construction Safety

 

Non Fiction * Current Events * Reports

This Genre can be a very tricky area for which to blog about. If a blog is about an actual event, Incident, Accident, or any other issue not personally related to you, proof of legal right to publish information must be obtained. As this page is almost virtually incapable of confirming all stories, reports, legalities, and circumstances, a "Waiver of Legal Obligation and Responsibility" will need to be signed.  The following guidelines must be upheld in regards to this area.

  1. Only true and accurate reports.
  2. Never embellish
  3. No mentioning of names of persons or companies unless already done so by major media sources and or legal entitlement.
  4. Support documentation must be accompanied with blogs for proof of actual events.
  5. If an opinion is part if the structured writings, then it must be labeled as such by way of a heading.
  6. Additional guidelines can be added at the discretion of this website and owner.

 

Fiction

Yes Please. Tell us a story. One with a learning curve in the hopes of sparking the spirit of individuals to be safer while working. Is your story based on current6 events or an actual situation that happened in real world time? Let us know in case any legal issues arise.  

 

Tool Box Talks

Do you have a good Tool Box Talk  to share? 

Behavioral Based Safety

Behavioral Based Safety

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Behavioral Based Safety  was  the topic of a discussion from a group on LinkedIn lead to this blog.  Some words and phrases I had to google for an understanding in that discussion. I've been formally in the OH&S profession since 2011. I started my 30 plus years in construction as a mason’s helper and I have seen a lot of head shaking questionable things on construction sites. The first time I ever heard the phrase ‘Behavior Based Safety’ was up at the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Northern Alberta. The OH&S professional who talked about it was Dave Fennell, and what he said really made me think.    

Being more on site then in an office, when dealing with workers and trades we never say the word “Behavior”. What it really boils down to is “Choices”. A worker gets tasked to do a job on a site and right away he starts making choices about doing this specific job. Yes, most repititional work has a procedure for it and everybody knows the OH&S programs on sites have to be followed. However, workers are still getting hurt, and suffering fatalities. Day of Mourning in British Columbia had listed 153 deceased workers for 2017. How and Why?

Where does it come from 

A lot of it was from the choices workers make or being told to do the task in such a way that wasn’t safe. Their choice then was to follow the direction from their boss. On one particular site I noticed a worker right on the edge of a patio with no guardrails, squatting down and installing the waterproof material on the outer corner. He was 6 stories up and what he was tied off to was the plastic handle on the sliding glass door. 50 pounds of force would have snapped that handle right off. To make matters worse, the side of the building he was working on faced WorkSafe BCs offices.

I sure didn’t want to startle him for he might go off, so my choice was to walk up, grab the robe lifeline and pull his ass backwards. He looked at me like I was crazy. When the matter was finally dealt with I came up with the following conclusions. The worker only had a small task to do. In his mind it was a lot easier, and less time consuming to do it the way he was, rather then doing the task from a man-lift on the outside. It was also quicker then walking 6 flights of stars down and 6 more back up while carrying our doorway anchor device designed for just such situations in a mostly finished suit. He also didn’t want to appear stupid by asking for advice or help on such a small job. Pride, a seriously negative behavior for a young and new worker.

My Opinion

In my humble opinion, Behavioral Based Safety starts and ends with the workers. While working, choices and decision are made from the mindset of a worker based on knowledge, experience, emotions, attitude, and mindset at that particular time. I always tell workers to take 5 before a task and ask themselves “What could go wrong” in a lot of cases the answers they come up with (with my help) have a tendency to change their behaviors.  Upper management can formulate all the rules, regulations, and safety catch phrases, while owners and CEOs can instill a company’s core values ,  but its still the choices a worker makes which could lead to a negative result.

Behavior

Behaviors are the result of choices being made because of the situation a worker is in. He could be under the gun for time, or they are not specifically trained for what they are doing. Choices being made due to the attitude from some of, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I know what I’m doing. I’m not going to get hurt”. For me since I’m on site I have to change that behavior. Corporate has nothing to do with it. Unless it’s equipment failure from an unforeseen issue, or an act of mother nature, I believe all the rest of worker injuries and fatalities that occur are caused by behaviors that lead to bad choices.   

2018 * Day of Mourning

2018 Day of Mourning

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Why doesn’t the general population know the meaning

As flowers were laid at the foot of the Workers Memorial Cenotaph at Thunderbird Plaza in Abbotsford BC, I felt a tear roll down my face. Yet I was even more saddened in the knowledge that the vast majority of our population have absolutely no idea what Day of Mourning is. The puzzled look and blank expression on peoples faces when I ask if they know the significance of April 28th amazes me. What’s really disturbing is these people I ask are workers in all walks of life. A drastic change is needed.

On this date in 2018 the Day of Mourning ceremonies were held on vitreous days from the 27th to the 29th.  The powers to be would never do that for Remembrance Day ceremonies. Are workers worth less? Most certainly not. We are all to blame. Some more then others. One of the reasons I have noticed for the lack of awareness and significance of Day of Mourning is the media. Coverage of the ceremonies is lucky to get a minute or two at the end of the evening news. Maybe it’s because it just doesn’t sell enough for the media to cover it. The workers who have died due to their occupations deserve better than that.

The Stats 

Since 1993 over 22,000 workers in Canada alone have paid the ultimate price due to their occupations. In 2016 Canadians filed 241,508 workplace injury claims. This years Day of Mourning statistics for 2017 listed 158 worker fatalities in British Columbia alone. This number has increased from 2016 which had 144 worker fatalities. WorkSafe BC states between the years 2013 to 2017 British Columbians lost 729 workers. These are members of people’s families. Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, somebody’s child, yet our communities never hear about it.  

What can we do   

Day of Mourning Ceremonies should be pre-advertised on every form of media available such as Remembrance Day is. Now some may there is a big difference. However, I would dispute that. What a soldier and veterans are to war, protection and freedom, workers are to peace, economic service and life. For without the working class and what are respective occupations accomplish, the planet would stop functioning. Just imaging if that construction worker didn’t exist to build your house, truck drivers to deliver food to the stores, or how about the farmers who grow the food we need to exist. Most of the human species would cease to exist.

So, what’s the answer? It’s very simple. More resources need to be allocated for media campaigns and general advertisements. Day of Mourning needs to be just as recognizable as Remembrance Day, Labour Day and every other important day commonly known amongst the general population. I would even campaign for it to be a national legal  holiday.      

 

For more information on Day of Mourning 

Day of Mourning BC 

Time to Regulate

Time to Regulate Occupational Health and Safety Professionals

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Article Courtesy of  The Toronto Star Newspaper Ltd., By PAUL ANDRE

Courtesy of The Toronto Star Newspaper Ltd. 

Lack of regulation poses a public safety danger to Canadian workers

Workplace accidents, like this one at a downtown Toronto construction site in March, took the lives of 852 people in 2015.
Improving Canada's occupational health and safety system, by regulating professionals in the field, would help, Paul Andre writes.
(VICTOR BIRO FOR THE TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)
By PAUL ANDRE
Mon., Sept. 4, 2017

For many Canadians

For many Canadians, Labour Day means the end of summer and a long weekend spent with friends and family. But the holiday was originally created to celebrate trade unions and their contributions to improving workers’ rights. In that context, Labour Day is an important time to reflect on how we can honour that legacy. Improving our occupational health and safety (OHS) systems is a crucial way of doing just that.

In 2015, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, there were 852 workplace-related fatalities in Canada. Workplace injuries are even more common. The association found that an average of 672 workers were injured every day on the job in Canada in 2012. Every day. And those numbers only cover workplaces where workers can receive provincial compensation benefits.

Fortunately, the frequency of work-related injuries and deaths has fallen drastically since the 1980s, which can be attributed to strengthened OHS regulations and more focus on improving OHS outcomes by unions, professional associations and industry. However, during the last decade, statistics measuring workplace injuries and fatalities have stopped showing signs of significant improvement. Clearly, there is still much room to improve OHS regulations and outcomes in Canada. A cornerstone of that push for safer and healthier workplaces should be the study of other countries and their success in that area.

 

In Canada

In Canada, OHS falls primarily under provincial jurisdiction, with federal legislation applying only to federally regulated workplaces. Provincial governments routinely review and update their OHS laws and regulations, but they have been complacent about regulating the people responsible for administering OHS in the workplace and at the scene of likely accidents — OHS professionals. That stands in marked contrast to many comparable jurisdictions.

In Germany and Italy, for example, federal and regional governments regulate the educational and professional qualifications required to work as an OHS professional. A similar regulatory system exists in Singapore. In the United Kingdom, OHS professionals are regulated by Royal Charter status, which delegates oversight of the field to a government-recognized association. Chartered status has been applied to some professions in Canada, including accountants.

 

Overall

Overall, several countries with similar systems of government to Canada are leaders on regulating OHS professionals, which ensures consistency and drives best practices for the health and safety of workers. For Canada’s provincial governments, those examples, showing that regulatory oversight of OHS professionals has been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions, should serve as touchstones for future changes to OHS policy.

In Canada, the trend towards government oversight of professions is clear and strong, which is a welcome development. To name but three examples, home inspectors, paramedics and human resources professionals are now regulated in some form in one or more provinces. In fact, provinces are increasingly regulating a suite of health professionals that may include everyone from dental hygienists to diagnostic sonographers, but not OHS professionals.

Because of the lack of regulation of OHS professionals in Canada, there are many people claiming to be OHS professionals without any formal education or professional training. That poses a public safety danger to Canadian workers. Regulating OHS professionals as other countries have done would be a significant step forward in making Canada’s workplaces safer and healthier.

As we celebrate Labour Day in Canada, there could be no better time to take that next step to ensure that Canadian workers leave work healthy, uninjured and alive every day.

 

Paul Andre, CRSP, is chair of the Board of Governors of the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals and acting president and CEO of Workplace Safety North.

 

Response to Article

By Mike Winbow  

Sept. 12, 2017 

Response to Article

Past Site   

A company I worked for in Abbotsford where the BCIT CNST-1100 classes came for a field trip, decided to replace me with another person after 13 months of service. The replacement was the son of a personal friend of the company ownership.  This  kid who is only 20 years old with less than one year construction experience was now the site safety coordinator. Yes, he has an EMR with the OFA III equivalency, however no professional training or certification for the position of safety. From what I understand a person needs 3 consistent years in the trades to even apply at one of the programs teaching the CNST-1100 course. And it doesn't stop there. We all know that the 2 week course is just the beginning. Yes, ultimately the Primes ownership and Site Superintendent are responsible for the safety of the working crew and are the ones who go to jail if shit hits the fan. However, if the role of site safety has no consequences regarding decisions we make then anybody who is willing to take on that role, really has no initiative to educate themselves and wouldn't care to because they don't hold any responsibilities.  Then it becomes just a job and the passion for safety is lost. We don't enter into the safety and first aid occupations  to become rich. We do it because it's a calling. I'm sure you all can attest to that. We are here because it is our passion. It's what we believe in and it's our moral, and ethical duty to protect workers. It sure is way more than just a job.

 

Less than 5 years

A person with less than 5 years hands on work experiences in whatever occupational sector they wish to work in, doesn't have the experience for the position. You have to recognize a hazard, the risks to workers because of that hazard and how to professionally mitigate that problem. At the site I previously mentioned, there were at one time over 200 souls who worked there. They all had somebody who wanted them home after work without injury or worse. Being the safety coordinator is a lot more than making sure everybody has their hardhats on.  

Safety isn’t Cheap

Safety isn’t Cheap * Yet the Turnaround is Priceless

 

Even after the numbers are announced in April about the injuries and fatalities, it still bewilders me when an OH&S Department is mitigated to a state of non-existence.  

Just having  the appearance of safety is what really causes injuries or worse. When you buy a premade jump bag, the slings that come with it are undersized cheese cloth. Construction workers are bigger than years long past, yet the material and dimensions are still the same. I remember once using 4 slings to hold up and secure a patient’s injured arm. His size and pure girth demanded it.  I’m not saying we need the best of equipment, however we need better than the basics That just gets us by. If left to my own devices, I prefer going to the second-hand stores, purchasing old bed sheets, bleach them in a wash 2 or 3 times and cut out 4 X 4-foot squares.

Far too often the “Appearance of Health and Safety” is good enough. WHY? Hasn’t everybody who’s not in the OH&S field realized it just doesn’t work. On a construction site, the Site Safety * First Aider should be completely separate from the production. Yet we do our part to advance production. But when it comes to building guardrails, safety stands or notice boards, we shouldn’t have to feel the need to beg for materials and fasteners. As well the first aider is the one who should be purchasing the tools of their craft, not a person in administration.

The First aid attendant should always be the one in condole of the F.A. Supplies. Nobody else and never lock them away out of reach of your first aid attendant. Yes, some micro managers do.  When management decides to separate the two, they run the risk of a minor situation spiraling out of control. That action could cost a life. Do they even realize that they could be sentenced to a term in jail for such an action? I wonder if that thought ever went through the mind of Vadim Kazenelson when his managerial decision caused the death of 4 workers on Christmas Eve? Those workers died due to him failing to supply fall protection, even though it was on location. Just because it’s there, don’t make it accessible.

   Damn rights Safety isn’t Cheap

The Turnaround is indeed Priceless.  When you allow a knowledgeable and experienced safety professional and first aid attendant to do his job and have the authority to effect change when needed you ultimately increase your company’s’ profits. Yes, it will cost you a lot at the beginning. In British Columbia, most if not all Sector 72 General Construction sites with multiple trades fall under the “High Risk” category. Furthermore at 31 people and within 20 minutes surface travel time to the closest hospital you will still need a vast amount of first aid gear and a facility Schedule 3-A. This includes not just the working trades, but sales, deliveries, office staff, inspectors and more. 

For such a construction site, the guidelines are pretty damn clear. A level 2 kit is required  as well a  first aid room. These are the bare minimum criteria set forth by WorkSafe BC. However, do we have to set the bar at the bare minimum. Guidelines G3.18(2) states:

In order to provide effective treatment, the equipment, facilities, and attendant must be accessible and first aid must be administered to the worker as soon as practicable after the injury or disease, in accordance with the practices and standards found in the attendant’s training program.”

Still to this day there are some who Don’t get it, Don’t care about it, Cheap out when purchasing it, Seriously mitigate the ones who are trained to provide it, and will be the ones who go to jail because they are the ones responsible when a worker unnecessarily physically suffers from an injury due to the lack of them not providing it. Those are the ones who have no business in construction, providing the required needs for the first aid attendant and safety personnel, and making decisions about it. The best solution is for them to just stay the hell out of it. Just let us handle it.

So, what’s the Turnaround of great safety and first aid. A construction company with an outstanding Occupational Health and Safety Program, that allows the professionals to make the decisions is one that developers will contract for projects. Why? Because safety is PR. Ask yourself this. Would you want to buy a house, condo or an apartment from a developer whose Management Company or Prime Contractor allowed workers to get injured or worst because of the money saving attitude and micro managing of the OH&S department. I would be thinking that if they handled their own personnel in such a poor manner that they might construct the building in the same way.  Cutting corners and taking short cuts to save a buck.

Does the structure really have the right material and correct fasteners to hold it all together? Is the electrical safe, will the plumbing leak? They refused to provide adequate equipment for their first aid person to take care of their own workers. Why would they even care for strangers after the project is finished. If you take good care of your workers and provided the necessities of safety and first aid without being cheap and micro managing, chances are you’re the type to do it right and take care of the strangers who are the purchasers after the project is complete.

High Level Noise

High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me

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High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me was the reason and  cause for the mood swings I was feeling. Ever think to yourself while at work, “Why am I in such a bad mood? I wasn’t when I showed up. But I sure am now”.  

To answer that I’ll ask one more question. Are you wearing your ear plugs? Because I’m going to tell you about High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me and on our frail bodies and the inner systems that run it, not just our hearing.   Today on site I had to move my First Aid room due to seismic upgrading that was commissioned. Iron workers were installing rectangular prefabbed metal frames inside a concrete boxed area in the ceiling which supported skylights.  They would use a material lift, hand crank them into place and then using a hammer drill with a hollowed bit and a HEPA vacuums proceed to drill out the holes. As a construction safety professional, I absolutely loved the procedure for the removal of the silica waste. As we all know silica is a very dangerous substance that is as common in the workplace as Hard Hats and Work Boots. However, another hazard was very present. The noise.  

The Work Environment 

The building we are in was built-in 1965 hence the seismic upgrading. It’s a concrete drum that does not allow the noise to escape. In fact, the noise of the hammer drill echoed increasing the problem.  A normal noise rating would be 96 decibels. Inside this structure, I would rank it upwards of 105 to 110 decibels. It didn’t stop there. Anchor bolts had to be installed using an impact gun. Again, with the drum effect of an enclosed concrete room, 105 plus decibels. Now I’m going to point out that we all had our hearing protection on, but the effect of noise doesn’t stop at the hazard of hearing damage. In this situation, I could feel the noise in my body. Every impact of the hammer, the vibration waves through the air hitting me as I was only 30 feet away setting up my new First Aid room in an area that was steel studded, but not dry-walled was overwhelming.  

Two hours in and I’m feeling my mood change in a very noticeable way. I’m getting angry and my temper is increasing with feeling of being frustrated and stressed. This vibration and high decibel levels of the noise is creating a very negative effect on me. While doing the finishing touches on my F.A. room I sternly requested a 15-minute shut down and yes, I explained my reasons why.    

Effects as a Youth

Now when I was a teenager and into my early twenties I loved a good rock concert. I’ve seen The Who, The Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Kiss, the list goes on and on and now I finally understand why at the end of the night our attitudes were that of an out of control rebel. It wasn’t the light show, or the style of music, nor was it the words in the songs that so many would have us believe were those of a nature of evil and devils music. It was the vibration and high decibel of sound. A good rock concert was well over 100 decibels, and what about a bar or nightclub.

During that 15-minute shut down, the quietness was almost louder than the noise. I could feel a draining of negative emotions and frustrations like a tap was opened and the flowing out effect was very comforting.  I had to ask myself “How in the hell do these guys do it”? Iron workers are a breed unto themselves.  A special type of worker who I could only surmise must have grown accustomed to the effects of the trade. Yet that would only be a false statement as like every other hazard that doesn’t injure immediately, the long-term effect could be catastrophic. The only way I can see to protect our workers is a reduction in the noise levels.

What Can Be Done 

So how can we do this? I am not an engineer, however time and again we have seen in buildings a way of diminishing the noise levels by hanging artistic devices that stop the echo effects. Designed to ‘Absorb and Dampen’ noise in buildings these are  made of thick materials. So how about clamping porous rubber or thick foam fabric to the medal that’s being impacted into place. As far as the actual guns and drills go, maybe increasing the dimensions of the casing and installing the same type of product but still allowing it to breath so heat build up isn’t an issue. Again, I am not an engineer, just spit balling an idea. But there must be a way. Our emotional statues, health, and very lives depend on it.

Caught in the in BITE

When It’s Your Child That Gets Caught in the in BITE

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The Phone Call

I just received a call that NO safety professional every wants to receive. What do you do When It’s Your Child That Gets Caught in the in BITE. My son who is 20 years old, in the trades, learning concrete forming, and a NEW and YOUNG Worker.  He was on a Marcon Construction Site and un-rigging a load of lumber when his hand got caught in the chain. The crane then lifted him off the ground for what I was told was 10. His hand and wrist are sore, a little swollen but nothing broken, nothing lost, but one hell of a wake up call for him.

I know all of us as safety professionals have had that same thought. What if it’s my kid? I can tell you this. I am just so happy that it was my son calling and not the CSO * OFA of the site, or the hospital. However I’ve always been of the theory that one truly doesn’t fully understand the concept of ‘Safety’ until they are apart of an accident. It would be so nice to be wrong. Yet experience, and being hurt myself at a young age has confirmed that theory so far.

 

The Reason 

So as a father my concern is over the top. When It’s Your Child That Gets Caught in the in BITE,  you can beat on one thing.  As a Safety Professional with over 30 years in the trades in some way or another , I’ll be using that to give him an orientation on Safety in construction and on the Job Site that is going to rival the ones we got in the Oil Sands. Back to basics and including a section that will be titled “You are not a Rigger”. Which leads me to the question, “Why was he unrigging a load anyways”? That’s part of the reason I have a section on this site for Tool Box Talks 

We have all done it, and to say ‘I haven’t’ is just not true. Doing the task, or job of another because it’s quicker, easier, and production must continue, and that’s when it happens. We stress so hard to the ones we watch over to never get caught in it. “Don’t get caught in the BITE” is what we say, the pinch points, moving parts that can grab, devices that will cinch you in. But it is still happening today and this time it hit home.

 

The Suggestion 

I suggest we go back to basics. I’ll personally use this as a Tool Box * Safety Meeting. It will center on not rushing the task, complacency and especially about not doing what you are not trained to do. I also suggest that if you have a child in the trades, or any dangerous job for that matter, call them tonight and tell them how much you love them. Because the fear you might develop  When It’s Your Child That Gets Caught in the in BITE, is something you do not need to feel. 

A special THANK YOU to the CSO * OFA who took care of my son.

Speed Takes Another Life

Speed Takes Another Life, And He Was My Friend

 How many times have you heard or even said “A life can be snuffed out in a blink of an eye”.  I myself have used it a number of times over the years to stress on a point in a toolbox or full-out safety meeting. But did I really understand what I was saying. I never really understood what safety was until I wasn't paying attention a number of years ago when in my early 30s I suffered such an injury I was sidelined for a year. Now I truly understand just how quick a life can be lost due to a personal lose. 

On Feb 3rd, 2017 at 1;15 am, the Abbotsford police and firefighters were called to the 2800 block of Ash Street for a single car accident. The driver, a 48-year-old man was in serious grave danger when he was pulled him out of the Honda Civic. He was taken to hospital where he lost the battle for life and succumbed to his injuries. It being suggested he was speeding. The road is a 30km/h street however the posted sign was not visible at all. He knew what speed does, He was a flagger for a road maintenance company and traveled all over the province. 

I knew  Marshall Joseph Francis for over 30 years. We grew up together on the wrong side of the tracks by choice in Whalley, a subsection of Surrey British Columbia.  He was a good kid back then. Never got into any real serious trouble. But we still had a lot of fun, and now he’s gone.  Another life snuffed out in a blink of an eye. 

A blink, that’s how quick it can happen.  You might even see it coming and be totally powerless to do a damn thing about it after the event has begun. My colleagues and I in the Occupational Health and Safety field drive this fact home almost every day.  In fact one of my favorite sayings is ‘Ask yourself one question before every task….”What Can go Wrong” and there is the beginning of a Risk Assessment, a JSA, a Hazard Analyses, and FLHA * FLRA.  I hate to speculate, but clearly his mind was not in the game and it cost my friend his life. 

So what do I do now. Well as an OH&S professional I take this ultimate negative,  turn it around and I use it. I speak about it on site, in tool boxes and tailgates, in full site safety meetings. Once again a construction worker dies. Off the job and on personal time, but he was one of us. I will miss my friend tremendously. His smile and jokes would take a person from the worst mood and brighten his day. 

How do we learn from this. The lesson is so clear. “SPEED KILLS“. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. You could be operating a lift truck, swinging a load from a crane, trenching out a cut for piping or even just walking while packing your tools. Slow down, be aware of your surroundings, and who is around you. Do your due diligence when it comes to the assorted assignments and analysis of the task, hazards,  and risks to yourself and others. Remember it not just your right to refuse unsafe work, it is your responsibility. If you blindly charge at a task because your behind or others are ahead and your being asked to kick it up a gear, DON’T. That’s when things get missed and shortcuts become a factor into your job.  The life you save could not only be yours, It could be somebody’s mom or  dad who is working right beside you and in the same danger zone.

Think before you do and ask YOURSELF the question…”WHAT COULD GO WRONG”

Remembrance Day

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Remembrance Day * Lest We Forget

Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

 

 

IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM

The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

 

On May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in the absence of a Chaplain, John McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the Church of England’s “Order of the Burial of the Dead”. For security reasons Helmer’s burial in Essex Farm Cemetery was performed in complete darkness.

The next day, May 3, 1915, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson was delivering mail. McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium.

As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and later recalled, “His face was very tired but calm as he wrote. He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

Within moments, John McCrae had completed the “In Flanders Fields” poem and when he was done, without a word, McCrae took his mail and handed the poem to Allinson.

Allinson was deeply moved:

“The (Flanders Fields) poem was an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

 

From the Web Site Flanders Fields Music 

Construction Safety * What Is It

 Construction Safety * What Is It

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What is Construction Safety? I ask you this because I wonder if it really exists or is it just doing the song and dance so legislative principles don't order and impose fines on the ones who do the developing and hold the purse strings. The numbers and my own personal experiences might suggest the latter.  

I once took a JSA class at the Kearl Oil Sands  Project. We broke up into groups of four to write one out for the task of 'Changing a tire in the parking lot right outside during winter at 2 in the afternoon'. The group I was apart of consisted of the fire chief, an OH&S professional, myself  (a CSO/ OFA III) and this 22-year-old green hand labour. There was a one hour time limit so we better hurry. Right off the bat three of us had our collective heads just spinning and soon pen to paper started to fly. The task at hand sounded so simple until we really dug into it. Near the end of the time limit we had 6 pages of information, safety protocols, and a procedure down that would rival the top minds in the game. And that poor green hand was lost. We spent more time developing the procedures for the task then it would have taken to do the task. We bubble wrapped the world. 

The fourth in our group finally said "It's just a tire change". That's the other side of the coin. So many times we in the safety culture might be a little overzealous in our chosen profession. I myself included. That's what so many old timers see when we try to explain the changes made in the way we do things nowadays. Then we hear the gravelly voiced response of "I've been doing this way for 30 years and I've never been hurt"! So why the change in procedures? Why did we change the way we do so many tasks in the construction industry? 

OSHA states that "Nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries." In the province of British Columbia alone between the years of and including 2011 through to 2015, WorkSafe BC declares total claim cost in sector 72 'Construction' totaled $966,967,231, and  between the years 2010 and 2014, 735 people suffered  a fatality (all sectors included) due to workplace related activities. So far this year in the first 8 months in sector 72 construction,  27 workers have perished due to occupational diseases or accidents ( from my source at WorkSafe BC "this figure is only preliminary at this point). 

Some of the most noted who have been taken far to soon were a 31-year-old male who in  last February 2016 was buried while working in a trench in Coquitlam BC. A younger 26-year-old was crushed while placing concrete when the 60 meter pump truck tipped over and the boom came crashing down upon him. I personally orientated that young man on a 850 cubic meter pour 5 days earlier on a completely separate project. That whole crew was on my site.  And just recently a 25-year-old fell to his death in Saanich BC due to a fall from heights. He was 18 feet off the ground doing some painting. When he was found he was wearing a fall protection harness however he still was not adequately tied off.  

I myself was released from my position as site safety due to the Profits Over Safety mindset of a superintendent because I would question the lack of procedures of the tasks he initiated well after regular hour when I've gone home. The final act was when I refused to orientate and allow a 20-year-old man to enter the construction site. He had absolutely NO experience at all. He has never been on a construction site in his life. This was a 6 story condo complex a block long, 2 underground parking garages, 9 pieces of mobile equipment on site (not including dump trucks, concrete pump trucks and mixers), and well over 100 trades. But his lack of experience wasn't the factor. We all started somewhere and a Green Hand like this young man would be allowed to go and work after an in-depth new and young workers orientation. The superintendent even had issues with the time I took to do these informative orientations. The real factor of my decision was that this young man had only been in Canada for less than 30 day. He had an English comprehension of a 5-7 year old.  With a fluent 3rd party translator I'm quite sure he would have been given the green light. However both the sub and the prime contractors refuse to supply one.  So I stuck by my decision and was fired for it.  All this after I just finished authoring, developing and publishing the OH&S manual for the program I was administering while building it.

So I ask you again, "Construction Safety", what is it. Are we doing a good job or are we merely figureheads. The WorkSafe BC Regulations affirms  in part 20.3(2) If a work location has overlapping or adjoining work activities of 2 or more employers that create a hazard to workers, and the combined workforce at the workplace is more than 5 {that they must} (a)(i) appoint a qualified coordinator for the purpose of ensuring the coordination of Health and Safety activities for the location. So by law we have to be there. However we are paid by the Prime Contractor to coordinate the regulations set forth by the Governing Legislative Body and their own Occupational Health and Safety Program that in turn is mandated by law for them to have in place under 3.1 

Now don't take from this the industry is all full of cowboys who do whatever they want, because it isn't. Construction in BC is a safe place and there is no place I would rather be. Yet a few bad apples is what the media reports and that paints us all in a very ugly light. Keep in mind to that those bad apples, boards across the country now are taking some to court and judges are imposing jail sentences.  Such is the case of the 4 workers who fell 13 stories to their deaths at a Toronto high rise. On December 24, 2009 the Project Manager  was sentenced to 3 1/3 years in jail.  I used that accident in a full site safety talk and when I said that it was federal time he would be serving and that he would most likely be used as a plaything by some hardcore inmates, I could see a few eyes of some upper managers stop blinking and the site became very quiet.  I had  full attention OF ALL 135 TRADESMEN AND MANAGERS.

At the end of the day, I can only go by my own numbers that are reported to me. Such is the case of that last site. I calculated it out as an average of 155000 man hours in 13 months and I only had 82 minor injuries. That's because I walked the site and when needed reoriented the ones who needed it. I came up through the trades as a labour and mason. Been there and did that so one has to know how to express the safety culture to the ones who need it most. Just spewing orders and regulations never works. In one ear and out the other. So for that 30 year veteran of the trades, you have to pull at the heart and really make him think about it.  I tell him "We don't slide down I-beam any longer and we don't ride crane hooks,  because those days are long gone. And besides, don't you want to see your kids have kids, enjoy life and have a cold beer after work. Don't you wanna  watch future grandchildren grow up. A dead worker will never see that and those future grandchildren, they'll never meet you".  Most change their behaviors, but there is always that one because life isn't perfect. 

I guess things really started to change after tragedy in 1981. Triple 5 Bentall finally woke up the industry's structure to the common person. Four Journeymen Carpenters , Guenter Otto Couvreux 49, Donald Wayne Davis 34, Yrjo Mitrunen 46, and a young labour Brian John Stevenson 21, plunged to their death after  the fly form they were preparing for the final roof pour shifted and fell  36 stories to the street below. 

Infrastructure Design of a Bottleneck

The Infrastructure Design of a Bottleneck

Open Letter to The Province of British Columbia and Trans-link

Written on

   To all concerned.

The number is astonishing. The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project is estimated at 3.5 Billion Dollars. Yet this will not elevate the congestion of rush hour traffic. To fully appreciate the drive from Vancouver or Richmond to Abbotsford, Mission or Chilliwack, you have to drive it on all routes between 3 and 6 pm. I work in Richmond by #3 road and Alderbridge and I live in Abbotsford. The very best time I have ever made was just over 1 hour and 52 minutes. The worst was a day from hell. I left work at 4 pm and didn’t arrive home until 7:38 at night. The traffic so bad, you could see the anger in more than ¾ of the drivers.

Sure, take the new Port Mann Bridge. Yes, it’s a nice drive. Lots of room. 4 lanes wide open, until 200th. Some smart people thought it was a good idea to funnel 4 lanes into two.  The bottle neck at 208th is completely a good idea gone bad. Sure it opens up around after 232. Yet at 264th we are back to 2 lanes all way to Chilliwack.

91, 99, #10. These are a nightmare. I’ve seen the traffic on the 99 back up as soon as the extra land exiting the tunnel go back to 2. Bumper to bumper all the way to 16 ave. at 35 km an hour. And if it’s a really bad day, a fleet of transport trucks heading to Langley, Aldergrove and beyond.  The drive in during the morning hours to catch the 99 and damn is a farm tractor pull onto 16 ave. at Bradner Road only to do 25 or maybe 30 km/h all the way to 176. Oh, my god, I am behind a horse and buggy. Lets not even talk about #10. Light after light after light. The drive east of King George Hwy. would almost drive and person to have a jammer in the chest.

And then the last route. The Lougheed Hwy. The new Pit River bridge is nice and the traffic jam to get out of Pitt meadows or back to home at the end of the day has gotten worse. What the powers that be have failed at realizing one very important thing. Well, three to be exact. Mountains, Ocean, Border. Those are the three that drive the core eastwards and out to the valley. There is no choice. Maybe you can go deeper into the mountains north, however, the cost is a lot more than building east.

Due to the cost of living for the average blue collar worker, rent and purchasing a home close to the downtown core is next to impossible. I live in Abbotsford and pay $550 for a 2-bedroom basement unit and I have great landlords. There is no way ever I can get that deal in the big city.  However due to my occupation I am forced to make that drive as are so many others. The traffic starts to really thicken up at the Clearbrook-Hwy 1 interchange at 5:30 am. And yet the ruling bodies seem to think a 3.5-billion-dollar bridge is an answer. Wrong. From what I’ve seen they will do exactly what they did on Hwy 1.

A bridge. Think about it. You're bottlenecking the valley. Ask the average driver who takes any of these routes and the choice is so obvious that I really can’t believe it is not being looked at. They have to finish what they started and go further. Hwy. 1 needs to be 4 lanes right through to Whatcom road then cut it back to 3 lanes. That would need to be in both directions.  Hwy 17 is nice but those damn lights and then the entrance to the Alex Fraser Bridge can be a gone show most days. The direct feeders to bridge heading into work are more than double the lanes on the bridge.  The 91 needs another lane south all the way to the 99, and back again for the morning.  The Lougheed-Hwy 7, well maybe a bay-pass route for those who live in Maple Ridge and Mission.

Now for the 99 and more. Easy fix and cheaper. Sink another tunnel. From what I’ve been told from some very smart people is the soil compaction of that area will not withstand the bridge that our government wants to build. The hardpan is too deep if you find any at all. ‘Sink and second tunnel’ and expand the 99 to 4 lanes all the way to the border and make 16 ave. a 4 land hwy.  maybe that 3.5 Billion will cover all that. You might even dump the downtown core in an hour. Think about that. Downtown Richmond or Vancouver and your back home east of the 272 hundred block in and hour during the so-called rush hour. However, we all know that will never happen. The reason for this new bridge…...the Powers That be, our glories leaders, they all want their names on a plaque on a mega project at their trophy.

Oh, one more thing. Vancouver would like do away with all fossil  fuels in the very near future, and from what I was told today, use methane.?!? Really? Soooo what make bigger garbage dumps to produce this methane. Probably get outbid by the Russians anyways.  With that being said I guess all the building materials from wood to steel and concrete are coming either by skytrain or smart car. Maybe a bucket brigade. And what the little 76-year-old widow lady who lives on the 15th floor in Vancouver. If she needs a repairman for anything, is he supposed to walk his tools and equipment around, or maybe he can buy a little red wagon. News flash, you just tripled if not more the cost of “EVERYTHING”

You know I could be wrong about everything. I am up at 4:30 am and I don’t see my house till 6 pm and even later some nights. After all, that commute to and from work leaves very me very tired and my head in the clouds.  And from what I’ve seen I’m not the only one yawning east of 200 street.  For a safety professional, this really leaves me pissed at the whole infrastructure design and direction we are going. Wish more building in the valley it’s only going to get worse, the population thicker and the traffic accidents will increase. People are going to suffer serious injuries or even fatal. 

 

Good Luck To Us All.