by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp

Safe and healthy workplaces matter to industry.

Industry is most qualified to identify current hazards in their workplaces that could lead to injuries and to determine best practice to prevent injuries. Industries at higher risk of injuries, such as heavy construction, demonstrate safety is a priority by maintaining safety associations to support workplaces. 

Practical and relevant safety training as well as advice and support is developed and delivered by these safety associations. These services are based on direct knowledge that industry provides these associations. Saskatchewan is fortunate to have seven safety associations, including the Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan.

As a Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association member, you should know about recent changes by Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). These changes undermine the work and credibility of the province’s industry safety associations. 

Agreements about the delivery and accountability of funding as well as WCB’s requirements of these associations are being reinterpreted and revised. This has the potential to radically change the nature and purpose of safety associations in Saskatchewan as well as the role of the WCB.

I am working closely with these safety associations so that we can preserve them as well as industry’s role in developing relevant and effective safety training. Through our research, we have mapped out the moves being made by WCB that undermine the safety associations. These moves are primarily around funding, but also include presenting safety data and injury numbers without including necessary context. (That context would reveal WCB’s indirect knowledge of industry. Its decisions and actions based on indirect industry knowledge impact safety outcomes.)

As safety leaders, our group’s advocacy efforts with government are not just defending the safety associations. We are on the offense, proposing our own vision for the organization and administration of safety in Saskatchewan, including enforcement.

Industry organized, sponsors and funds these safety associations so the resources that workplaces need to maintain and improve safety on worksites exists. These safety associations provide valued guidance and support to workplaces, and I ask you to keep this issue in mind as you prepare for 2022’s work season.