It’s been a tragic few months in the province’s construction industry.
In late May, a worker lost his life after falling from the top of a hotel under construction in downtown St. John’s.
A few weeks later, a 41-year-old man from Ponds Cove on the Northern Peninsula was killed at a roadwork job site in southern Labrador.
Not long after, three workers were injured in an explosion in Donovans industrial park, and last week a worker was injured at an Avalon Mall construction site.
In addition to those accidents, Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association (NLCSA) CEO Jackie Manuel says there have also been a lot of serious near misses.
In response to these incidents and in an effort to avoid more of the same, the NLCSA is encouraging its membership — along with any other company or business of any size — to engage in a voluntary stand-down to give employers and employees a chance to talk about safety in the workplace.
“Let's see if we can't draw some attention and ask people to take a minute, take some time and look at things with a fresh set of eyes,” Manuel says.
“It's important for everyone to take some time and have an opportunity for workers to speak openly about safety and any concerns so that they don't become the next terrible incident that we're hearing about.”
The NLCSA is calling for the stand-down Tuesday, but says companies are able to complete it at any point next week.
The stand-down should be a toolbox talk or another health and safety activity, such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans or discussing job-specific hazards.
“What's key is that we stop and recognize the hazards and control them, because you can't always eliminate them, but you can control them,” says Manuel.
“You can do things to make it safe and that's what we need to do. Let's just have another look so we're not the next statistic.”
As of Friday morning, roughly a dozen companies and firms had registered to participate, including large organizations like Newfoundland Power and Cahill Group of Cos. and smaller organizations such as Heddle Marine and N.L. Vegetation Control.
The latter two are taking advantage of the NLCSA’s offer to have one of its safety advisors attend their stand-down.
“We're a small team and we're based predominantly in St. John's, so we're trying to manage those requests as best we can and some companies are just doing their own thing, like the Cahill Group. They have a great safety program and record. They don't need our help,” Manuel said.
“We're hopeful that as we try to spread the word, we'll see some more uptake as well. For a first event like this, we're pleased at the attention and it's the message that's important.”
Companies needn’t register with the NLCSA to conduct a stand-down, but those that do will receive a certificate of participation that demonstrates their commitment to health and safety on the job site.
“We want to promote the companies that are doing it. That's why we want them to register, but if they don't want to, that's fine, too,” Manuel said. “What's important is that they do it.”
The NLCSA is also encouraging companies — whether they’ve registered or not — to promote their involvement through social media by using #nlstanddown4safety.
To find out more or to register, visit nlcsa.com/construction_safety_stand_down/.