THE TOPIC OF safety drew much of the attention at the Eastern Canada Tripartite meeting, but discussion quickly turned to another pressing problem for everyone in the industrial construction sector: manpower.
At the pre-meeting reception, the alliance presented awards to two contractors, one owner, and three Boilermakers for making workplaces safer.
Babcock & Wilcox Canada received an award for the comprehensive safety plan it developed during the Nova Scotia NOx Reduction Project. Alstom Canada was recognized for its “Safety Dashboard” initiative, an innovative way to promote safety through statistical analysis to discover trends.
The alliance recognized Nova Scotia Power for the firm’s collaborative safety efforts with other owners, contractors, and the Boilermakers.
The three Boilermakers recognized at the conference included Local 203 (St. John’s, Newfoundland) President Bill Healey, Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Leslie Linco, and Local 128 (Toronto, Ontario) member Blair Allin.
The conference itself began on a safety theme. Ron Ellis, from the Our Youth at Work Association, gave a moving presentation to dramatize the importance of being a “safety champion” by changing your own behavior. Ellis’s teenaged son David was killed his second day on his first job. “I took for granted that his employer would provide a safe workplace,” Ellis said. “I never discussed worksite safety with David. I just wanted him to be a good employee.”
Through the Our Youth at Work Association, Ellis teaches young people how to create a culture of safety. He offered the conference three steps toward safety: 1) Never be happy with the status quo; 2) Have a family atmosphere; and 3) Leadership action should move down the chain, so everyone becomes a champion of safety.
Delegates also heard from the three Eastern Canada Tripartite committees: Absenteeism, chaired by Local Lodge 128 BM-ST Jim Tinney and Jim Scattergood, from Bruce Power; Safety, chaired by Boilermakers National (Canada) Safety Director Jason McInnis; and Manpower, chaired by Boilermakers International Rep Kent Oliver.
Blue-ribbon panel addresses manpower
THE HIGH NOTE of the conference was a series of presentations by owner representatives. Bob Blakely, Director of the Building Trades of Canada, opened the discussion, followed by Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO, Bruce Power; Pierre Charlebois, Executive Vice President, Ontario Power; Rick Janega, Vice President, Nova Scotia Power; and Gaëtan Thomas, Vice President, New Brunswick Power.
Presentations ranged over the entire spectrum of future work in power generation construction and maintenance. The issue of manpower touched virtually all aspects of the industry. The shortage of skilled workers in the field of industrial construction is not confined to Canada, or even to North America, but is worldwide. And the manpower problem will not be solved soon, as the demand for electrical energy continues to outpace our ability to produce new generating plants.
Climate change and the production of CO2 also raised some good discussion. While many look to nuclear power for a solution — there are currently about 125 nuclear plants being built worldwide — those plants cannot be built fast enough, and other alternatives to fossil fuels — such as wind power and solar — are not expected to yield much capacity.
But all participants continued to be hopeful for workable solutions. Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne encouraged all in attendance to keep working on the tripartite approach, because, as his parents in Scotland used to tell him, “Many a mickle make a muckle.” That is, many small efforts eventually make a big difference.
Participants also learned from a variety of presenters on such topics as the Boilermakers’ master rigger training program, the project manager training program, the Canadian Web site (www. boilermaker.ca) and travel card pool, and the value of the pre-job mark-up. Other topics included proposals to create a national safety committee, a disaster response program, and a national hearing test for Boilermakers.