New and enhanced training for flagpersons, supervisors launching April 1
'We still see risks from excessive speed, distracted driving,' says Workplace NL CEO
The training requirements for flagpersons in Newfoundland and Labrador will double April 1, while a new voluntary course for those who supervise or design traffic control plans at highway construction sites will also be launched.
"We still see risks from excessive speed, distracted driving," said Dennis Hogan, CEO of Workplace NL, the provincial agency responsible for workplace health, safety and compensation.
Hogan said the new training will bring "a more robust set of standards" to highway work sites.
"It will make it safer for the people who work on those sites. But also for the travelling public."
Controlling traffic at a road construction site can be dangerous work, and has proven deadly in this province in recent years.
Three road construction workers have died on the job since 2011, and many more have been hurt.
"I would put this line of work at very dangerous," said Roger Motty, regional manager of Safety First contracting, one of 43 companies in the province certified to administer training for traffic control workers.
So two new courses are being launched by Workplace NL.
One is a mandatory and enhanced flagperson's course, doubling the minimum training from four to eight hours, which is more in line other provinces. And for the first time, there will be a common curriculum for all private training providers.
The second is a training course for workers who supervise or design traffic control plans for construction sites.
It's voluntary, but Hogan said he anticipates it will become mandatory.
Companies like Safety First support the changes, which will likely mean higher revenues for their operations, since the cost of training will also increase.
But Motty says the training will also benefit people who work in road construction.
"More training comes with more knowledge. [It] creates a safer employee, a safer workplace," said Motty
There are more than 9,000 certified traffic control workers in the province, and they will have to take the new training after their current three-year certification expires, while anyone new entering the industry after April 1 will have to complete the expanded training.
The training overhaul came out of a review undertaken by the government, road builders, unions and trainers.
"To the best of my knowledge I do think there is widespread support for these changes," said Hogan.
Whether the province's road builders support the initiative is not clear, since the Heavy Civil Association of Newfoundland and Labrador would not agree to an interview.
Hogan, meanwhile, says a higher upfront cost for training will benefit contractors and workers … down the road.
"We fully expect that through a reduction in injury and lower risks and a greater safety on those sites, there will actually be a cost savings in the longer term," said Hogan.