It takes countless hours of planning and design work, not to mention the months of construction needed to Gordie Howe International Bridge project. And, every decision in the process has been made with the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, partners and stakeholders being a top priority.
That is why Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is proud to acknowledge North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, being held this year from May 2-8, 2021. It’s a time to focus the attention of employers, employers, partners, and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home, and in the community.
WDBA Health and Safety Manager Andreea Triff says her job is to ensure all staff and partners who work at the construction sites for the four components of the project in Canada and the United States, stay safe while on the job.
“We mandate that all staff take part in WDBA safety training and also participate in training from Bridging North America, our private sector partners, to be able to work at the project site,” says Triff. “We also ensure they understand the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the proper procedures to report hazards.”
Health and safety is especially important in the middle of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic.
Robert Gallant, the Health, Safety and Security Manager for Bridging North America, says everyone visiting the construction sites must answer a questionnaire that looks at possible symptoms and their travel history.
“We really enforce social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitization,” adds Gallant. “We have also staggered times for meetings and lunches to ensure everyone is social distancing.”
WDBA responded immediately to the pandemic and closed offices in Canada and the US and staff were provided all the necessary equipment to work remotely. That in itself brings health and safety challenges.
“When working from home, it is important to set up your workspace in an ergonomic way, such as your chair and desk,” says Triff. “Staff need to make sure that all electrical cords are safe and grounded, and that they have proper lighting in their remote workplace.”
Gallant believes the key to safety is building relationships.
“It’s important to get to know the people you are working with because everyone has a different story,” says Gallant. “If you take the time to build those strong relationships, it really sets you up for success because everyone will play a role in creating a culture of safety.”
WDBA and BNA work together to monitor the pandemic and ensure that employees of both organizations and all contractors follow best practices in accordance with health authority guidelines.
At WDBA, staff from different departments work together on a Pandemic Task Force. The task force members have already spent more than 100 hours in meetings, researching and developing a pandemic response plan, COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols, a plan to re-open offices and worksites as well as an employee orientation manual.
You can learn more about the shared responsibilities of WDBA and BNA health and safety managers by watching this video.