Submitted. When Bob Nielsen, of the Mainroad Group, talks about health and safety it is with the same passion which many in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) community feel for their work.
“This is the group who can make such a big difference over the next ten years. It is so crucial to connect with them before they get into the workforce,” says Nielsen.
The three day event started with BC NAOSH Committee launch for NAOSH Week. The launch had over 250 people in attendance and speakers who spread the message of “Make Safety a Habit.”
Students learned just many distractions drivers face in modern vehicles.
Nielsen brought together a large team of Sponsors, Safety Professionals and Exhibitors who worked together to provide almost 300 high school students with a spectacular series of live demonstrations at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds during NAOSH Week (May 4 – 11). The goal of the event was ‘Learn to Ask the Question.’
The demonstrations were spread across the fairgrounds and students were divided up into groups of ten in order to visit each demonstration with a team leader and learn about the hazards of different types of jobs, how to identify them and most importantly – how to protect themselves from those hazards.
Nielsen says the idea for the demonstration came from a growing concern at Mainroad and throughout the industry that young employees are coming into the workforce with little or no health and safety knowledge.
“At Mainroad we’ve been growing rapidly and one of the things we’ve had to do is adapt and change our safety programs to accommodate younger employees,” he says, adding, “We had assumed they understood an awful lot of things … but they don’t.”
Nielsen says industry needs to be more proactive in engaging young people before they enter the workforce.
“That way we can stop so many things from happening.
Will Shepherd, from FIOSA-MIOSA, said the students told him they learned a great deal from the event.Hands-On Experience
From watching trained professionals using equipment to actually gaining hands-on experience, the students were led through a series of situations across the fairgrounds with real vehicles and equipment, in order that they get a real sense of some of the dangerous situations workers find themselves in on a daily basis.
More importantly, they learned how proper safety awareness and training can save lives. By learning from the people who do the work, the professionals who teach safety training and by participating in the dmonstrations the experience was made much more real.
“One of my favourite comments, and I heard it often,” says FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Advisor Will Shepherd, “… was that the students expected the demonstrations to be boring but that they really had a lot of fun.”
“They also seemed to really appreciate learning so much about what the working world was really like and what their rights are within that world.”
Shepherd, who also has an unrivaled passion for health and safety, explains that, by the end of the day, he was proud and pleased to know that the students had it firmly within their grasp that their three rights as workers were:
- To Know – about any unsafe or unhealthy conditions at work
- To Participate – in planning and implementing strategies to mitigate risk
- To Refuse – any work or duties they deem to be unsafe or unhealthy
One of the students who participated in the demonstrations, Christopher Louie, says one of the main things he took away from the experience was the fact that there are basic rules and regulations in place, and when they are not followed, that’s when accidents occur.
Bailey Sandhu says, one of the most eye-opening aspects of the day’s activities which had an impact on him was finding out, in an up-close-and-personal way, what workers, especially road construction and maintenance workers, actually do every day.
Several of the students say that, thanks to their participation in the day’s events, rather than simply seeing a rush of orange or yellow colour as they pass by teams involved in road work, they now have a much better idea of what those workers are doing and just how much danger they face every minute of the day.‘Invisible’ Sports Car
FIOSA-MIOSA OHS Services Manager, Michele Baratelli, says, “It is important that people learn, as young as possible, that health and safety are not things to be taken for granted. Lives are forever changed in a moment due to mistakes, inattention, and events beyond our control. What Bob [Nielson] is doing is terribly important and will save lives.”
Nielson also founded the website safetyyouth.com which provides an online educational tool on health and safety.
Nielsen says he is extremely pleased with the caliber of the people who were onsite putting on the demonstrations throughout NAOSH Week.
“The participants were all top notch,” he says, adding “They changed, adapted and improved their presentations hour by hour and they really engaged the students.”
The North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is an annual, continent-wide event where employers, workers, and all partners in occupational health and safety collaborate to promote injury and illness prevention in the workplace. It is marked by a 1997 agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, dedicating the first week in May each year to focus on occupational health and safety.Mainroad
About Mainroad Group – Headquartered in Surrey’s Cloverdale community, Mainroad Contracting was established in 1988 when the provincial government privatized road and bridge maintenance services within British Columbia. A motivated group of former provincial employees banded together to pool their knowledge, skills, and resources to form what would become one of the most successful roadway maintenance companies in British Columbia.
Mainroad is also unique within the industry as a 100% employee owned company which translates to a better team effort throughout. Through business expansions, ventures, and acquisitions, Mainroad Group has expanded its operations throughout British Columbia and in spring, 2013, established Mainroad Chinook Contracting LP in the Province of Alberta.