Leaders in the construction and safety industries are calling on the provinces to harmonize safety regulations in order to improve worker conditions and make it easier for labourers and skilled tradespeople to “follow the jobs” around the country.
The push is being ramped-up following the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.
Kevin Brown, CEO of Cobalt Safety Consulting and Matt Stainton, President of SG Constructors, say it’s time for Canada to stop making it difficult and potentially dangerous for workers to move from province to province to support their families.
“I’ve had three friends die while on the job. I think of every family as I lace up my boots to go to work to try to prevent it from ever happening again. These are family injuries and family deaths, because it impacts all of us. We need to do everything possible to ensure our loved ones come home safely – and harmonizing safety regulations among the provinces is an important step toward that goal,” said Brown, a former Ministry of Labour Investigator and safety expert.
Unlike other countries, Canada has inconsistent training standards and safety regulations as you move from province to province. And workers are travelling more than ever to grab the higher pay being offered in the face of an extreme labour shortage.
“My job is to set up effective safety programs across the country and I can tell you, some workers get confused about the patchwork of regulations. Confusion is a hazard and definitely NOT something you want at an oil and gas refinery or a construction site” added Brown.
Matt Stainton of SG Constructors says the harmonization of safety regulations is also a way of better protecting new Canadians who don’t have English as a first language, but have the valuable skills needed to build our economy.
“We are out there every day fighting stereotypes and urging parents and teachers to encourage kids to consider jobs in construction. Salaries are nearing $100-thousand a year due to the labour shortage and we’re starting to see a shift in thinking about these rewarding careers. But if we want support from parents and schools, we must be able to ensure that workers and their families feel secure by implementing harmonized safety training,” Stainton said.
Canada is facing a shortage of more than 100-thousand workers in construction-related industries. Company safety culture has become a critical ingredient for attracting new employees.