Training our sights on prevention
Great things can be accomplished when you set a goal and direct your efforts to achieving it. Even greater things can happen when you secure the training and the skills to make that goal a reality.
Volunteer health and safety activists do both. They set their sights high because their ultimate goal is the prevention of work-related injury, illness and death. In pursuit of this and to fulfill their considerable rights and responsibilities as joint committee members, certified members, health and safety representatives and union representatives, they also complete, and often deliver, this health and safety training to their co-workers.
Frequently this training is from the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC). The WHSC is the only health and safety training centre endorsed by the labour movement.
With their winning combination of training and tenacity health and safety activists achieved a major legal win this year with Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace
. This victory is the result of a sustained, labour-led campaign.
We celebrate this significant gain and those yet to come as part of the 14th
annual WHSC Volunteer Activist Recognition Campaign. The WHSC also knows the value of setting goals and marshalling efforts. For over 25 years we have offered training and information resources in support of these workplace initiatives. We were first to launch a Certification Renewal program, just one recommendation we’ve set our sights on for an improved Certification standard. A recently updated Canadian Level 1 program will help inform activists across Canada of their rights and responsibilities in their home jurisdiction. Our new program for small workplaces, without benefit of joint committees, will help ensure workers and their representatives are equally well prepared to carry out their considerable responsibilities.
Other dogged campaigns have yielded other major gains including Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and in recent years expanded legal powers and training for joint health and safety committees through the Certification process.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act
, on this its 30th
anniversary, would likely not have been passed into law without the unrelenting efforts of workplace activists at the time. Bolstered by recent gains, volunteer activists are refocusing their legislative agenda. In addition to ensuring the passage and proper enforcement of Bill 168, activists also have in their sights an improved Certification training standard, mandatory training for new workers, chemical management regulations aimed at supporting worker, community and ecological health, and ergonomic regulations in every province.
We don’t intend to rest either. Next on our list of training development objectives are extensive updates to our Certification Part II
sector program for health care and social services, hazard prevention training for federally regulated workplaces, and a comprehensive program for new workers.
Like the three volunteer activists profiled in this issue of At the Source
, thousands of others are working to secure safer, healthier workplaces and communities.
It’s no accident all three of these volunteers are WHSC-qualified instructors. That at least one of them is immersed in the campaign for a provincial law to prevent workplace violence is also hardly surprising. Read on to learn more about their efforts.
Says Dave Killham, WHSC executive director, “Volunteer activists are focused on worker well-being. They know it can take years to amend laws but they never lose sight of the long-term goal which is prevention. Working together, let’s continue to train our sights and our activists on prevention. On this too, we can be just as tenacious.”