Women in construction safety: The women of Construction Workplace Safety Training (CWST)

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Serving the construction industry for more than 30 years, Construction Workplace Safety Training (CWST) continues to provide and enhance safety training for a wide range of clients. Two women support the company in meeting the growing company and industry’s demands and challenges.

Lee Wylie

Lee Wylie’s construction-related career began when she was hired by the Barrie Construction Association (BCA). Quickly understanding she would wear many hats within the association, Wylie says she took opportunities to learn and to meet people.

These skills were helpful when she moved to CWST almost 10 years ago. At the start, she says she was the only employee besides owner Bruce Bolduc, so her role grew and evolved as the business expanded. The company has continued to grow each year and recently expanded its Barrie training facility.

As her knowledge and experience increased, Bolduc placed more trust on her. “It can be overwhelming at times, staying on top of training changes and business growth and new responsibilities, but I’ve always loved those kinds of challenges,” she said. “I still wear several hats on a daily basis; one of my biggest responsibilities is scheduling and pricing training, private and public sessions.”

She says a naturally inquisitive nature and constant desire to learn is beneficial, as is working with industry experts. “Bruce has a wealth of knowledge to share, both about the construction industry and safety training. Our trainers are also top-notch and highly experienced so I draw whatever I can from them.”

Wylie connects with a diversity of people from different companies and industry sectors. She says she recognizes that more women are getting involved in the construction trades and in supervisory roles.

However, she also still recognizes that it is still largely a male-dominated industry. “I love to see young women working at apprenticeships and coming for training. The fact that I notice female attendees though is evidence that they are fairly few and far between.”

Her advice to women considering or entering the trades is to stand their ground, to hold their head high, to embrace the challenge and be proud of what they can achieve.

Wylie is responsible as CWST’s office manager for the company’s day-to-day operations, interacting with clients in various functions. Her knowledge and expertise includes 16 years of related industry experience, the last nine of which have been with CWST.

Wylie says her journey has been hectic, challenging and at times frustrating, but at the same time, she wouldn’t change a thing. “I have learned about government legislation, training and safety requirements, heavy equipment and, over time, have developed the ability to communicate with management and trades across the industry,” she said.

“I am proud of being an integral part of a growing successful training company in an ever changing industry and I have gained the ability to assess what someone needs and recommend what their next steps should be for training or otherwise.”

Nikki Hall

Nikki Hall handles CWST’s program development, including writing course manuals, designing the resources, researching regulations and current legislation related to the different topics.

She has a background in customer service, business administration, and 12 years in the training sector. She moved from England about eight years ago and joined CWST about five years ago.

“Ensuring our trainers are using current standards, that our courses are in line with the current legislation, ultimately means ensuring our clients are equipped and prepared, not only with what is happening now, but what they will need months from now,” she said.

For example, in April 2018 the Working at Heights training regulations will have been in place for three years – and now many people who took the training when it first became mandatory will need to recertify.

“We’ll let people who took the training through us know but it’s important people take the time to check their cards as well. Recertifying takes half a day.”

CWST employs trainers with specific construction industry capabilities and experience. Accordingly, while the company offers common safety training courses, it also provides more specialized courses such as heavy equipment, hoisting and rigging and scaffold training.

The company is one of the few to offer suspended access programs. “We try to marry the skills and capabilities of the trainer with the specific needs of the client to ensure they get exactly what they need.”

Hall says she works with many women employed in the industry when they call to inquire about or book training, either because they are working in the field or looking to take on new construction-related roles.

“It’s great to see so many women entering the field and it’s been wonderful for me to have Lee here as a mentor. She is like a sponge, a foundation of knowledge and helpful advice. If she doesn’t know the answer she will find the answer.”

Her advice to other women considering the industry is not to be put off by any stereotypes or what they may believe. “This is an industry with a lot of great opportunity for men and women. If you think you’re interested, don’t be put off.”

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