November 2016 – Article: Safety Always On The Mind Of Ontario’s Labour Minister


SAFETY ALWAYS ON THE MIND OF ONTARIO’S LABOUR MINISTER


 
You cannot have a conversation with Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn without the topic of health and safety being mentioned.

It’s an issue the Minister takes extremely seriously.  In fact globally, Flynn thinks we undervalue human safety.

“That’s got to stop.  There is no job out there that is worth someone’s life or an injury.”

Flynn recently sat down with the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) for a wide-ranging interview, speaking on issues ranging from this summer’s Changing Workplaces Interim Report and how to attract young people into the trades and construction industry.  Flynn also spoke about the success enjoyed by management and labour in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction sector.

On the topic of health and safety, Flynn believes zero deaths and/or injuries in the workplace is a goal that’s becoming more and more realistic.

As Minister of Labour, Flynn says the worst that can happen is getting an email or phone call telling him someone has been killed on the job.  At that point he says, the opposition, the politics – it no longer matters.

Ministry officials follow up by doing a full investigation to try and figure out why the accident happened.  The Minister says the important thing is that hopefully we can learn from something so tragic.

“You think that if we can get through one day without a death or accident, you can get through a week.  And if you can do a week, why can’t you do a month?  And if you can a month…can you go a year without a death or injury on the job.”

Unfortunately says Flynn, statistics are the only way to measure how we’re doing – the progress that is being made in the area of health and safety.  He also likes where the Province is heading with regards to Health and Safety legislation.

The key he says is not taking shortcuts.

“It is partnerships…good employers and having well-trained employees who don’t take shortcuts…don’t get complacent on the job, but rather think about safety every day.”

Flynn says he worked for some excellent employers who preached safety all the time.  “I trained as much as I worked” says Flynn.  And the smart employers will work with organized labour when it comes to training.

“When it’s bargaining time, they bargain hard.  But when it comes to the daily running of the business in a safe way, training with apprentices…they work together hand-in-hand.  Both management and labour view themselves as very equal partners.”

Flynn points to research recently conducted on behalf of the Ontario Construction Secretariat that proves the unionized construction industry is 23% safer than non-union work places.  The independent and scientific research conducted by the Institute for Work and Health and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, concludes a “union safety effect” does exist in the Province of Ontario’s construction industry.

Flynn says the $40 million investment that organized labour puts annually into specialized apprenticeship, upgrade and safety training for union tradespeople benefits the entire construction industry and by extension, Ontario’s economy through the creation of a highly skilled and safety focused workforce.

Flynn also supports the 95 state-of-the-art training centres that have been established in every region of the province that allows for 1.7 million man-hours of training per year.

Remember to read next month’s E-Newsletter for more with Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn as he discusses the Changing Workplaces Interim Report and how to attract more young people to the skilled trades.

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Fred Lehmann
Communications Coordinator,
fredl@iciconstruction.com

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310