Ontario Construction Report special feature
For construction safety evaluator and senior trainer Dale Thompson, the typical workday begins with trust building. Whether he’s updating workers on changing legislation in industry in a classroom, on a jobsite, “or from the back of a pickup truck… the biggest challenge for any trainer is to get clients to buy in,” Thompson says.
“When you get a guy whose been doing the job for 30 years it hard to tell them there’s another way to do things that keeps them safer and still allows them to be efficient.”
A trainer at Barrie-based construction safety training services company Construction Workplace Safety Training Limited for 11 years after a background that involves two decades in the heavy equipment field, Thompson “has a strong sense of what the client needs, and Dale adapts really well in filling that need to achieve positive health and safety outcomes,” said the company’s director Craig Nicholson.
CWST provides occupational health and safety training certification courses and offers site safety personnel training at its training facility and at commercial and residential job sites.
Thompson, who evaluates and trains many of the municipalities and township operators in Simcoe County and abroad, said once he’s established credibility he’ll usually focus on bringing clients up to date on safety standards and regulations. From there, he’ll draw on specialized training in heavy equipment to appraise bulldozer and other operators on potential hazards on the job.
Thompson, a 53-year-old from Orillia and the proud father of two adult children, said the job involves keeping up with the latest construction workplace safety standards and on dynamic initiatives in the industry, notably increasing computerization of heavy equipment and tougher vehicle emission standards. He will also evaluate workers’ safety practices and advice on how to deal with unsafe situations on the job. “The mantra is ‘fit for duty,’” he said in an interview. “If a worker is unfit for whatever reason,” including the use of drugs, “supervisors are advised to send them home.”
Safety on construction sites has improved by leaps and bounds over recent years, Thompson said “Today’s training education market is much more about behavioral change than about ‘hey, this is a great new hard-hat you can wear.’ We spend a lot more time now talking about cultural change:” helping adjust workers perception and their overall disposition relative to improving workplace safety.
He suggested that the job can be frustrating at times, but if a client incorporates just a portion of what they are taught “their odds are better. I feel better about that.”
It can also be deeply fulfilling, “but you have to believe in your heart that you’re actually helping people work safer. It’s always nice to feel that your work matters.”
Thompson said he enjoys his vocation every day, particularly after a lengthy COVID related slowdown that saw most of the training industry idled for at least the first six months of 2019. He said the degree of client work is now at or above pre-pandemic levels, with increasing turnover in the construction industry and an influx of new workers amid rising wages and labour shortages adding to training challenges.
“There are a lot more green workers these days.”