Work Smart. Work Safe.
Keep your "Heads Up" and work safe!

WORK SAFE WORK SMART EPISODE 5: THE ALUMA ADVENTURE

By Christopher Vervoorst

We’ve been talking with young workers about safety in the workplace and what it’s like to be a young worker on the jobsite.

We’ve heard some pretty shocking safety confessions  and some great messages . I felt like it was time to shake things up and get a different perspective on young worker safety from an important source – an employer.

Talking to an employer

Ben Bunce is the area safety manager for Aluma Systems in Edmonton. He’s held the position for over eight years and has definitely had his share of young workers come through.

­Aluma’s motto is: “Every worker needs to go home every day in the same condition they arrived in.” In order to do this, Aluma has lots of safety training that the workers can take.

In fact, before they even start to work on the job site, workers have to take several safety courses, including some on PPEs (personal protective equipment) and hazard assessments.

Then, once on the job site, young workers who have little or no experience are placed in a mentoring program to work with a more experienced employee one-on-one to help them build their skills. They have to stay in this program until their skill level is great enough that they can work safely by themselves.

Teaching young workers safe practices at the beginning makes it easier for them to get into and keep those good safe habits. If you start off with unsafe habits, it’s going to be hard to change them. Think about it: since the unsafe way is often the faster way.

Ben has noticed over the past few years that young workers seem to be more knowledgeable on safety practices and what their rights and responsibilities are. Ben says, “It’s mainly due to the fact that schools and pre-job training programs are focusing more on highlighting safety.”

That being said, Ben feels that not enough young workers are aware of all the safety resources they have available to them. Courses and training are available online, so it’s easier than ever to learn.

In fact, I’ll make it even easier for you. Here is the link to the Alberta Construction Safety Association website, which has a wealth of online courses and training just for you.

Now, I bet you’re wondering if there is going to be a safety confession this week. Well, even though we didn’t talk to a young worker, Ben used to be one and was willing to tell us about his days as a carpenter in this week’s safety confession.

Ben and I talking about safety

Safety confession

Ben worked as a carpentry apprentice framing houses when he was 18. He used to work on roof tops and trusses 35 to 50 feet in the air. The problem was he never wore any fall protection and wasn’t really dressed appropriately for the job site. He would go to work in shorts and sneakers, with absolutely no PPE on. While nothing ever happened to him on the job site, looking back he can’t believe not only how irresponsible he was, but how much safety training has evolved since he was new on the job site.

The quality of training improved over the last 10 years, and it’s now also required by a lot of employers. These days, some employers won’t hire someone unless they meet mandatory safety requirements.

I asked Ben if there was anything he wanted to tell young workers. The funny thing was everything he said was what we have been talking about over the past few blogs.

He mentioned important things like:

  • speak up for yourself,
  • ask questions,
  • don’t take shortcuts,
  • don’t feel like you need to prove yourself and
  • refuse to do unsafe work.

Talking with Ben was a great experience. I hope that you’ll go and check out some of the training sites

Until next time, make sure to keep your head up and trust your gut.


One Response to “WORK SAFE WORK SMART EPISODE 5: THE ALUMA ADVENTURE”

  1. This entry is so good! It’s so eye-opening to read about how much safety has evolved and to hear it from someone who has experienced the change first-hand. I think one of the greatest things about this blog entry is how surprised I was when I read about how unsafe the conditions used to be. I think that says a lot about our procedures today. When you read about something like that and are shocked, it tells you that the precautions you are taking in your everyday workplace are necessary and rewarding. A few minutes of safety inspection can mean a lifetime of benefit.


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