Green hard hat program pioneering safety in construction

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Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

At Maple Reinders, a single fatality was the wake-up call that spurred the launch of a groundbreaking initiative: the Green Hard Hat program.

Tragically, a new worker died on a job site, underscoring the importance of providing new workers with greater support, training and mentorship to navigate the hazards of construction sites effectively.

Enter the Green Hard Hat program. Designed for new workers with less than two years of construction experience, this innovative initiative mandates the wearing of distinctive green hard hats that serve as a visible symbol of a worker’s novice status, signaling to colleagues the need for extra guidance and assistance.

Gillam Construction has launched a similar safety program, with new workers wearing green hardhats for the fist year on the job.

It’s a standard that Craig Sparks, National Director of Safety at Maple Reinders and Craig Lesurf, President at Gillam, are encouraging other construction companies to adopt.

Speaking at the Ontario General Contractors’ Association (OGCA) symposium on April 12, Lesurf explained how the new worker hard hat program is just one part of the safety program.

“What is competency?” he asked. “When you start on the job, to be competent you need to have knowledge. Remember, labouring actually is skill.”

Along with new workers being identified by their hardhats for the fist year on the job, Lesurf said it’s important to take the time to get to know new workers and to assign mentors.

“Build a culture that recognizes what the physical limitations are and plan work according to the physical limitations of our workers,” he said.

In today’s construction landscape, many labourers enter the industry with minimal experience, a departure from previous generations where knowledge was often passed down through family ties. As the workforce evolves, so must industry practices to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees.

The Green Hard Hat Program tackles this challenge head-on. By providing a clear marker for new workers, it enables experienced colleagues to offer support and mentorship more readily. This fosters a culture of collaboration and openness, where asking questions is encouraged, and knowledge-sharing is prioritized.

The goal is  ensuring all workers are “fit for duty” each day.

“Fit for duty means that an individual is in a state of physical health, mental health, emotional health and competency which enables all workers to perform the essential tasks” without being a threat to the safety or health of anyone,” David Frame, executive director at League of Champions, said at the OGCA symposium.

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