KING CITY, Ont. — Every day in Ontario, someone wakes up for work and does not come home for dinner because he or she has sustained a critical injury or has succumbed to a fatal injury.
“The overwhelming majority of those injuries are preventable,” said Ken Rayner, vice-president, business development and labour relations, with the Ontario Infrastructure Health and Safety Association.
The IHSA is a not-for-profit organization marketing the concept of additional health and safety support in the workplace. Rayner spoke about the organization’s goals during the June annual general meeting of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.
The IHSA was formed in January 2010 by amalgamating the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO), the Electrical & Utilities Safety Association of Ontario (E&USA), and Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario (THSAO).
Rayner said IHSA’s safety goals align with the PMTC’s goals of providing adequate standards of training and quality for drivers and other operational personnel, ensuring workplace safety, vehicle safety, and better highway design.
One of the best ways to achieve workplace safety is through knowledge, said Rayner.
“It doesn’t need to cost anything – that’s not what we’re all about. We wait for something to react to most times, versus being proactive. And health and safety is no different,” he said.
Health and safety practices today draw stark comparisons to the “non-existent practices” of the past, but there is always room for improvement.
Rayner noted that in Ontario, at the time the province was building out its hydro infrastructure in 1915, the mortality rate for linemen was 50%.
“Imagine that; if you were a mother or father of one of these workers it was probably in your better interest to send them out to fight WW1,” he said.
The year 1915 also marked the creation of the Workers’ Compensation Board in Ontario, which had two purposes – the insurance side and the education component – in terms of preventive action.
“The reason we exist is embedded in law: the Workplace Safety Insurance Act. We are recognized under law as a designated entity providing safety training and support,” said Rayner.
The IHSA regularly provides courses to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Transportation.
The IHSA has a Centre for Health & Safety Innovation, a skills development centre near Toronto’s Pearson Airport, and a mobile classroom that takes its training-by-truck to areas of Ontario where classroom facilities may not be set up.
While some of the training programs are free to members, others carry a cost but on a “cost-neutral” basis.
Some of the money from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums gets filtered to the Ministry of Labour and helps to pay for programs.
“We have to self-generate 20% of our income to be solvent, much of which comes from our programs,” said Rayner. “We have an evaluation framework for the courses to measure the participant reaction to the program, changes in knowledge and skills, how the skills are implemented and applied, and the resulting changes in business impact. The framework also compares the monetary benefits resulting from the impact of the program.”
Every course available has a pre-test and a post-test.
The trucking industry can take advantage of such offerings as defensive driving, pre-trip inspections, hours-of-service, lift truck operator training, and a comprehensive four-week course for fleet safety managers.
“We’re moving towards having a more e-commerce friendly site and making it as interactive as possible. Currently the site (www.ihsa.ca) shows the courses and locations where they are provided over the next six months,” he said.
If you or your business could benefit from a program or information on offer from the IHSA, you can either contact it directly through its customer service reps, or through the PMTC.
“Is there an opportunity perhaps to develop programs that more closely reflect what you do? We’d be happy to be a part of that conversation,” said Rayner, who added that the IHSA plans to hold four large open houses over the next year.