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Protecting workers in an evolving environment
Safety training is mandated by law in workplaces across Canada. However, complying with federal and provincial legislation isn’t a simple matter. The need to deliver safety training and the processes involved are not uniform across different industries. Even businesses can be misinformed about the requirements they must adhere to.
That’s why COS searched across the country for the organizations and individuals who have distinguished themselves as 5-Star Safety and Training professionals. The winners not only delivered necessary training but also acted as experts to address a range of safety issues.
In recent years, the rapid increase in remote working sparked a fundamental shift in the OHS industry, prompting trainers to adapt their training methods accordingly. What unites all training providers is the need to move with a constantly changing environment.
“The pandemic opened our eyes to new and innovative solutions that may not have otherwise come to fruition had we not faced these challenges”
Susan Harahap, Pro Administration Services
A golden opportunity
The COS team knows how difficult the pandemic has been for OHS professionals. The awards are a great way to highlight the sector and spotlight those individuals and organizations that are making a difference.
Of course, while OHS trainers ultimately do their jobs out of passion for safety, receiving an award is a welcome bonus.
“This award validates that as a company and as individuals, we are achieving our goal of delivering impactful training in key areas of safety. This has always been our goal and having this recognition means the world to us,” says Doug Legg, service and training manager at winning company Rubicon Safety.
For the Worksite Safety Compliance Centre team, the award is the culmination of many years of dedication. “It means a great deal to us as a reflection of the trust our clients have in us to deliver a consistently excellent level of service,” says co-founder and co-CEO Tristan Dressler. “It is a reflection of the reputation we have developed and maintained through decades of taking workplace safety seriously.”
Susan Harahap of Pro Administration Services, another winner, is grateful that her organization’s commitment to meeting exceptional health and safety standards has been recognized.
“Our dedication to developing educational programs throughout the past two years has not been without its challenges, but we have worked together to create innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to effectively collaborate with our sites,” says the manager of corporate occupational health and safety.
“This nomination tells us that our programs have made a meaningful impact on our staff members. Our team’s greatest focus is to see workers go home safe each day.”
“It’s hard to say what the future will look like for safety training but if I had to guess, I’d say there could be more emphasis on the trainers more than the training”
Doug Legg, Rubicon Safety
The pandemic had a huge impact on workplace health and safety. From concerns over personal protective equipment to supply chain sustainability, every aspect of the sector was hit by COVID. One area that suffered in particular was safety training. While physical distancing requirements remained in place, classroom lessons were prohibited.
That posed an issue for Rubicon Safety. The Ontario-based firm offers safety solutions for fall protection, confined spaces and rescue operations. Its style of training is not compatible with remote working.
“I have always been a firm believer that training should always be conducted in person in a classroom for both theory and [practice]. Rubicon Safety was able to maintain on-site training throughout the entire pandemic,” says Legg.
“We did have a few requests to move to a more online system, but staying true to our values, we were able to compromise and still conduct a lot of the training with boots on the ground.”
Rubicon has been recognized for finding a way to overcome a hurdle even if some clients were happy to accept an alternative solution. For Legg, the reason why his team upheld their standards is simple: “In my opinion, there is no way to gauge one’s retention on subject matter if you can’t ask them questions and interact with them.”
The restrictions on being indoors had a different effect on Pro Administration Services. Located in British Columbia, the company used its internal resources to embrace remote training.
Harahap explains, “We’re lucky to have an in-house tech geek that enjoys developing programs and solutions for tech problems previously thought to be insurmountable.”
Pro Administration Services maintained its live sessions, running from four to five times a month, so managers can ensure active participation. But they do realize that remote work is in demand.
“Our OH&S team of four is in the midst of developing in-services that will be run live and streamed to 100% of our sites at the same time,” adds Harahap. “To ensure understanding, our IT has developed online quizzes which the staff must take to meet our education mandates. As the quizzes are online, management can easily track attendance and scoring to measure the staff’s understanding and follow-up with any of the staff that seem to be struggling with the concepts at hand.”
Another solution the company developed was utilizing third-party resources and video calling to enable communication between people in different sites.
“Moving to more digital solutions, we saw successful outcomes, including having the ability to reach larger audiences on the same topics. The pandemic opened our eyes to new and innovative solutions that may not have otherwise come to fruition had we not faced these challenges,” says Harahap.
Delivering safety training to large groups is not a binary choice of remote versus in-person. “Where remote learning is not preferable, we still travel to client sites to deliver training in person. We also still offer public classes for theory-only training to better facilitate students who have special needs which cannot be met via webinar format,” says Dressler.
“Addressing demand that can change rapidly based on external market conditions has been largely reliant on operational agility and having a wide spectrum of expertise on hand. Our predictions can change daily, depending on what’s happening in Canada and the world.”
“Addressing demand that can change rapidly based on external market conditions has been largely reliant on operational agility and having a wide spectrum of expertise on hand. Our predictions can change daily depending on what’s happening in Canada and the world”
Tristan Dressler, Worksite Safety Compliance Centre
The next hurdle
The OHS sector never rests on its laurels. There will always be emerging issues due to evolving business practices and new legislation, and OHS professionals are ready to address them. What are the areas of growth that the winners have pinpointed and how are they planning to tackle them?
For Rubicon, the priority is site-specific fall protection training. While that may not be germane to most industries, the general point is.
“Here in Ontario, a lot of people believe that once [a chief prevention officer has approved their] working at heights course, their fall protection training is complete,” Legg says. “However, the employer is still required to make sure that the employees on site are trained in the specific use of the equipment they have purchased and [that] their workers [are using it] appropriately. Not all models and manufacturers are covered under the standard nor do they have to be, and that’s where this training becomes vitally important.”
For Pro Administration Services, it’s a similar story. The company focuses on the healthcare sector and highlights that all safety training involves more than obvious safety issues.
“The focus should be on violence prevention education and psychological health and safety,” explains Harahap. “In addition to currently untenable workloads, workers have to deal with longer hours, more violent patients or residents, and their own fatigue. The practice of mindfulness is an increasingly helpful tool in managing personal stress responses to environmental factors that are often overlooked. Mindfulness doesn’t remove the work stressors, but it teaches the practice of focusing on what is within the worker’s control and looking at the situations with an objective mindset.”
You don’t need the weather forecaster to tell you when it’s raining is the mindset of Worksite Safety. Instead of trying to guess what they think will happen, they are rooted to actual developments.
“When construction of tall buildings increases, so does the need for working-at-heights training and when pipelines are being built, additional ground disturbance training is required,” explains Dressler.
The long term
Safety training was evolving independent of the pandemic.
“New methods are now being deployed, new [curricula], and there seems to be more of a need for certain training such as fit testing,” says Legg of Rubicon Safety.
As workplaces drift into a new normal, thoughts are turning to what the future of OHS will look like, including how the sector will adapt.
“It’s hard to say what the future will look like for safety training but if I had to guess, I’d say there could be more emphasis on the trainers more than the training,” says Legg. “Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the rise of remote work, I do see that there will most likely be more online programs. This is why I feel workplaces need more standardized training and trainers to uphold a professional system so that individuals are learning rather than just completing their training.”
Harahap thinks that the future of safety training will be exciting and that now is the time to “discover different ways to reach a wide audience, without losing that interpersonal touch or staff engagement.”
She adds, “As changes to environmental factors are typically beyond the control of the workforce, employers should be putting the focus on the workers and how they can protect themselves against physical and mental illness. Teaching mindfulness to the frontline teams retrains the brain to focus objectively on the people involved in the task rather than the task itself.”
- ABCS Safety Training
- Alberta Laborers Training Trust Fund
- Arges Training & Consulting
- AWARE NS
- BCFED Health & Safety Centre
- BC Municipal Safety Association
- BEST Safety Training
- Contech Safety and Training
- Energy Safety Canada
- Global Centre for Leadership and Safety Excellence
- Health and Safety Professionals/North Channel Safety Management
- Industrial Safety Trainers
- Leader in Safety
- Leavitt Machinery
- Manufacturer’s Health & Safety Association
- Mazur Safety
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- Occupational Safety Group
- Pro Administration Services
- Rubicon Safety
- Safety First Consulting (Ontario)
- Safety Guys Training
- Safety Services Nova Scotia
- SOS Emergency Response Technologies
- Source Industrial Services
- Special Care Consultants
- Summa Safety & Environment College
- TOTAL Safety Management
- Trojan Safety Services
- Worker’s Health and Safety Centre
- Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
- Worksite Safety Compliance Centre
- Barb Middagh
- Curtis Hawley
Alberta Laborers Training Trust Fund
- Daren Findling
Summa Safety & Environment College
- Dave Fretz
Public Services Health and Safety Association
- Dave Lovely
BC Municipal Safety Association
- Diana Vissers
BC Municipal Safety Association
- Donna Langille
Safety Services Nova Scotia
- Doug Legg
- Dwayne Ellis
Safety First Consulting
- Dwayne Rae
Global Centre for Leadership and Safety Excellence
- Ed Wallen
- Edith Day Troock
Alberta Laborers Training Trust Fund
- Graham Hallenbeck
- Greg Barber
BEST Safety Training & Consulting
- Heather Matthews
- John Vanlenthe
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
- Joshua Burns
Trojan Safety Services
- Kody Messenger
- Mark Friedman
SOS Emergency Response Technologies
- Mark Sauder
Safety First Consulting (Ontario)
- Nasir Saeed
- Natasha Nastiuk
Energy Safety Canada
- Nicoleen Marsh
- Paul MacLean
ABCS Safety Training
- Paul Van Belle
Safety Guys Training
- Phil Adams
Source Industrial Services
- Richard Conrad
Contech Safety and Training
- Rick McClure
Worksite Safety Compliance Centre
- Rod Edwards
Arges Training & Consulting
- Russ Roy
Leader in Safety
- Sandy Ibbitson
Health and Safety Professionals/North Channel Safety Management
- Shelly Campbell
Energy Safety Canada
- Susan Harahap
Pro Administration Services
- Trevor Harness
TOTAL Safety Management
- Wes Mazur
The participants were first quizzed on what features they thought were most important in choosing a safety trainer, and then asked to recommend trainers and training companies. Participants rated the trainers and companies across a range of criteria, including quality of training topics, feedback, pricing, and online platforms.
Companies and individuals who received a score of at least 80 per cent were named 5-Star award winners in recognition of their excellent services and programs.