January 17, 2012

Brook Restoration safety training includes swing stage, hazardous materials

Brook Restoration predicts more construction injuries and fatalities if leadership isn’t taken concerning swing stage safety.

“I’m surprised there’s not more accidents,” said Brook Restoration President Geoff Grist.

Geoff Grist and Alex McMullen of Brook Restoration in Toronto, which recently opened its own safety centre.


Brook Restoration president Geoff Grist, left, and general manager Alex McMullen hope their company’s new hands-on safety training centre will lead the way in accident prevention.

Brook Restoration recently opened its own safety centre. In addition to regular safety training like WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), Brook offers training in aspects such as swing stage, boom and elevated work platform, asbestos, lead, Bobcats and confined spaces. Their training includes a hands-on approach in addition to the more traditional in-class training.

Industry attitudes have changed since an accident on Christmas Eve 2009 in Toronto when four construction workers plunged to their deaths when their swing stage broke apart .

“When it comes to safety on swing stages, safety for fall protection in general, they (workers) are willing to learn everything they can because they don’t want their families to go through the same thing that those guys did,” said Cory Carter, President of Restoration Safety, a sub-contractor of Brook Restoration.

Though individuals are willing to learn more, not much has really changed, said Grist.

“It’s been two years, where are all these new laws?” he asked.

The swing stage safety training at Brook will require a minimum of two days, one in class and one hands-on with written and hands-on tests at the end of the session. Working with parapet clamps, beam extensions and scaffolding are part of the hands-on component. Each course has a different timeline. Carter said workers generally get trained in the application they’re using, but not necessarily the multitude of systems they could encounter on the job.

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“This kind of hands-on opportunity gives them the ability to do it, see it first hand and be live with it before they get to the job site,” he said, looking over the Brook facility filled with new equipment just for training.

“When the foreman asks them ‘can you do this?’, they now have knowledge of how to do it and why. Why is it that I needed to do this, how is it going to keep me safe?”

All of Brook’s employees will go through new safety training as well as those who wish to work for them.

David Cuthbert, a foreman for Brook Restoration, has worked around the world and said Brook stands out from other companies in their dedication to safety. He said if there is a near miss, Grist will meet with workers to discuss what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.

Brook recently introduced a paperless reporting system, giving its site supervisors tablets for timekeeping, safety documentation, and day to day site contact information.

No employee will be able to be entered into payroll unless the system recognizes the employee as having completed all the required training.

“Everybody, no matter if they come with a slew of cards, has to go through this program before they step foot on one of our job sites,” said Alex McMullen, General Manager, Brook Restoration.

“The idea is we want to attract the good employees to come work here so that we have a good workforce as we grow.”

Brook worked with Rogers and Groveware to develop software specific to their needs.

Mansell Nelson, Vice-President M2M, Rogers Communications, said in the last year there has been an explosion of people looking to transform their services through tablets. He said construction is a key industry.

“Most outdoor workers have to process paperwork. We think tablets and these types of applications are a great opportunity to solve that,” he said, adding that it’s great to see smaller businesses adopting this technology.

“Now smaller companies like this can kind of go toe-to-toe [with larger companies], maybe even have a benefit over a big competitor,” he said.

Grist thanked those in the industry who have supported and sponsored the training centre.

Digital Media Editor's Note:

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