Article Safety in Construction: How Health and Safety Programs Lead to Success on the Job Site

As Wales McLelland adapts to this new normal of increased health and safety measures during this COVID-19 pandemic environment, we reflect on how we developed our Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Program, and how we became recognized as an industry-leading OHS Prime Contractor throughout the Lower Mainland.

Our success and growth within the construction industry, in project size, scope, and complexity, is directly tied to our commitment to plan, manage, and follow a comprehensive health and safety protocol.

A Recent History of Our Occupational Health and Safety Program

Prior to the 2008/2009 economic recession, Wales McLelland’s approach to safety was similar to other companies of the same size: we had a written OHS Manual that was loosely followed in the field, with little to no interaction with the office.

As work had slowed down during this economic downturn, we saw the opportunity to improve our internal processes in all areas of our business, including health and safety. As work began to pick up again in 2011, we committed to pursue our Certificate of Recognition (COR™), which was offered through WorkSafeBC and our Certifying Partner, the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA).

This journey to pursue a Certificate of Recognition™ required a cultural shift in how safety is planned, managed, and followed on a construction site, with an ongoing commitment to continual improvement. To receive initial certification, there are many levels of safety program education involved, as well as a series of internal audits against the regulatory requirements, followed by the successful completion of a COR™ Certifying Audit.

By the end of 2011, Wales McLelland was successfully awarded their first Certificate of Recognition™ from WorkSafeBC. Throughout that year and every year since, all WM employees receive OHS education and training that pertains to their jobs. Our OHS manual is updated regularly (most recently to accommodate the increased pandemic prevention standards), and workers are encouraged and expected to be actively involved in planning, managing, and following safety protocol.

Wales McLelland perform daily construction site safety evaluations as part of their leading occupational health and safety program
Wales McLelland perform ongoing safety evaluations on every construction site as part of their industry-leading Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program.

As part of the COR™ recertification process, Wales McLelland is required to recertify through an externally-registered COR™ Auditor every three years, and has successfully recertified in 2014 and 2017, with the next recertification occurring later in 2020.

In 2019, Wales McLelland successfully installed an electronic Safety Management System, to track all required documents in one convenient, easily accessible area. This improved communication and transparency between the job sites and the office, allowing our Health and Safety department to offer timely oversight on every project.

Our Health and Safety Philosophy

At Wales McLelland, safety is an attitude and a frame of mind. It is not an activity in which one participates only when one is being watched or supervised. Safety is an awareness of one’s environment and actions all day, every day.

We believe that in measuring our safety performance, we learn from our mistakes and our successes. This level of accountability assists us in ensuring all employees and subcontractors are working – and will continue to work – in a safe and healthy environment.

Injury and illness prevention through safety and wellness management does not start when we begin construction. It starts before. When we first look at the project at the estimating stage, we physically visit the project site to consider the geography, as well as the physical and environmental impacts. By doing this, we can anticipate potential impacts to the schedule, the budget, and the people that work with us.

Our Subcontractor Health and Safety Management Program

Up to 95% of all work performed on our projects is completed by subcontractors. We recognized that some of these companies had different levels of knowledge about OHS regulations, and did not always meet our safety protocol standards. As a result, many of them operated under our OHS umbrella.

To help educate our subcontractors on current WorkSafeBC legislation that applies to our industry, we hosted two subcontractor Safety Education Meetings in 2018. The purpose of this was to connect our subcontractors with resources to assist them with OHS program development applicable to their companies.

Wales McLelland has COVID-19 OHS precedures in place for social distancing in the construction industry
Wales McLelland have incorporated COVID-19 social distancing requirements into their OHS program.

We invited a representative from the Small Business Advisory Department of WorkSafeBC to discuss the regulations that apply to all employers, as well as a Regional Safety Advisor from the BCCSA, and representatives from the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), to discuss the services and training they offer.

Wales McLelland was recognized as the first Prime Contractor in the Lower Mainland to offer this opportunity to their subcontractors, and were awarded a BCCSA North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Award for providing this service. We continue to review our subcontractor OHS manuals, offering guidance to assist with their ongoing improvement.

Overview of Our Occupational Health and Safety Procedures

At Wales McLelland, we are committed to follow comprehensive health and safety protocol. Below is an overview of the Wales McLelland OHS procedures that we provide, prior to and throughout the duration of each construction project we manage:

  • Pre-Construction Site Safety Evaluation, Concerns, and Meetings
  • Site-Specific Safety Management Plans (final review with client)
  • Subcontractor OHS Program Review and Evaluation
  • Subcontractor Coordination Meetings and Minutes
  • Mob-In Process: Site-Specific Documentation, Trailer Set-Up, Site Security and Public Safety
  • Hazard Assessment and Controls Documentation
  • Regular Inspections and Audits
  • Site-Specific Safe Work Procedures and Practices
  • Tools and Equipment Maintenance, Repair, Tracking Requirements
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Training
  • Access, Egress, Delivery
  • Exposure Control Plans (ECPs), Fall Protection Plans, Lift Plans, Excavation Formwork Engineering
  • COVID-19 Requirements
  • Environmental and Housekeeping
  • Incident Management, Reporting and Corrective Action Items
  • Tenant Improvement Work
  • Mob-Out Process
  • OHS Statistical Record Keeping
  • Education and Training
  • Health Monitoring: Respiratory Fit Testing, Hearing Conservation
  • New and Young Workers Training
  • Injury Management and Return to Work Program
  • Annual COR Action Items
  • Joint OHS Committees
  • Company-wide Health and Safety Meetings
  • Client Reporting Requirements

Our commitment to our COR™ Health and Safety Program is directly tied to the significant growth in project size, scope, and complexity that has become associated with the Wales McLelland brand. Not only does this ensure Wales McLelland job sites are safe, it also ensures we’re able to attract, hire, and retain top talent, who also recognize, commit to, and contribute to our culture of safety.

To learn more about how you can advance your career in the construction industry in a progressive work environment that is committed to safety, visit our list of active job postings to join the Wales McLelland team.