A video of what appears to be horseplay and unsafe work practices on a Calgary construction site has prompted an investigation by Alberta Employment and Immigration (AEI) and action from the city’s building officials.
Canadian OH&S News reports the video was filmed at a condominium development site in Calgary, according to AEI spokesman Barrie Harrison. The vides, apparently shot by a worker, captures one co-worker tossing a clamp to another co-worker across elevated scaffolding.
“I was extremely disappointed to see workers, professionals, acting in such a manner, and obviously, extremely shocked for the disregard for the safety of the public [and] the safety of the workers below,” Kevin Griffiths, Calgary’s chief building official, said.
If the horseplay as seen in the video is proven to have occurred, it would be a violation of Section 189 of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code, stipulating “if a worker may be injured if equipment or material is dislodged, moved, spilled or damaged, both the employer and the worker must take all reasonable steps to ensure the equipment or material is contained, restrained or protected to eliminate the potential danger.” (WCxKit)
“When there’s activity like this going on, (in) any sort of scaffolding construction, there should be some sort of safety netting beneath,” Harrison said. “In some cases, you may want the sidewalk or street below to be cordoned off, but from the looks of the video, it doesn’t look like any of that is in place.” However, he adds, he does not want to assume anything until AEI’s investigation is complete.
The workers were employed by Edmonton-based construction firm Skyway Canada, according to company president and chief operating officer Gary Carew. He added a pair of the workers in the video were suspended without pay, pending the results of investigations by both Skyway and AEI. The third involved worker recently left the company.
“Skyway Canada Ltd is deeply disturbed by the images in the video which we learned of last week,” Carew says. “We do not condone the high-risk behavior of the workers in this video. We have commenced a comprehensive investigation into this incident and will share the results when completed.”
Gary Wagar, executive director of the Alberta Construction Safety Association (ASCA) in Edmonton, notes that companies are obligated to manage horseplay through their safety management systems. “I think that there’s a culture in general in young people, not just in the construction industry, when it comes to horseplay,” he contends.
Wagar suggests that if AEI inspectors were authorized to issue OH&S fines on-site, workers and employers might have more incentive to comply with safety regulations. (WCxKit)
Griffiths, meanwhile, would like to see municipal fine amounts raised for sites that endanger public and worker safety. “We want to send a strong message that everyone needs to do everything possible not to inflict any possible endangerment to the public, and in extension, to workers obviously, on-site,” he says.
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