For many people, the phrase “Ground Disturbance” conjures up images of big equipment turning up dirt to build roads or other infrastructure. This is indeed the case; this type of heavy construction recognizably engages in ground disturbance operations. However, many other residential and civil construction projects regularly deal with underground facilities. This means that ground disturbance concepts extend to many popular trades outside of heavy construction. Landscaping, residential projects, other construction fields, and the agriculture industry all actively require awareness of ground disturbance operations. The Saskatchewan Safety Council is proud to announce the latest addition to the Career Safety Education program - “Ground Disturbance for Saskatchewan Workers,” a completely free course aimed at young workers in the province seeking to enter these common trades that deal with disturbing the earth’s surface.
Three organizations – The Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance, Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Safety Council have collaborated to produce this training course on Ground Disturbance. Course material covers concepts that are directly applicable to ground disturbance operations while also including generalized concepts designed to build a young worker’s awareness in many other fields that work in soil or alongside utility infrastructure.
The main objective of the course is to teach students how to properly identify underground facilities while also providing information to help students maintain safe practices when dealing with soil. “New and young workers often find some of their first jobs in sectors that deal with ground disturbance concerns. Every year, we hear statistics of people being injured and sometimes killed in this line of work, but these are not statistics, they are our friends, neighbours, nieces, nephews, and children. Through this multi-agency collaboration and the financial support of the SCGA, we can make sure that every person who needs to take ground disturbance training to learn about the hazards and risks in their work, can do so without barriers.” - Ryan Jacobson, CEO, Saskatchewan Safety Council
For employers in industries that frequently engage in ground disturbance operations, a young employee who has taken Ground Disturbance Training will be much better oriented to receive onboarding training than an employee who has not. Many employers in these common industries will recognize the important concepts that the course will introduce. These ground disturbance concepts include Identification of worksite equipment, designation of colour-coded flags and markers, the influence of differing soil types, hazard identification, proper reporting procedures, emergency preparedness, and other relevant subjects as it pertains to ground disturbance. These subjects were developed in consultation with the Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan, a non-profit safety association dedicated to promoting the arts and science of safety to the “R” code employers & their employees in order to try to reduce incidents & accidents that result in injury & property damage. “As we see younger employees entering our industry constantly, this is a fantastic opportunity to build that safety skill mentality right as they start their careers.” says Natalya Uchacz, Safety Program Consultant, of the HCSAS.
A key objective when developing the course was to ensure the highest possible accessibility and affordability to the public. To address accessibility, “Ground Disturbance for Saskatchewan Workers” will be provided online available to anyone with an email address, and it is free. Certificates of completion are provided, rewarding students of the program with a lifelong token of their valuable knowledge and experience gained. This certificate gives a valuable reference for the students completing the program as they apply for work in the relevant industries.
The Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance (SCGA) develops and promotes “effective damage prevention practices” when dealing with underground facilities, believing in a collective approach to damage prevention and worker safety in the province. Developers of “Sask 1st Call”, the SCGA passionately supports the Ground Disturbance training initiative as a preventative measure in the fight against property loss and workplace injury in the field. “The cost to the economy of these incidents is significant, but more importantly, there is also a risk of injury and even death from events that are most often entirely preventable,” said Derrick Mann, SCGA President. Developing safety habits when one is young “produces a lifetime of benefits” says Mann, believing a graduate of the program may become a future role model to champion safe behavior.
Collaborative efforts such as this address the needs of Saskatchewan people. This exciting initiative is one more example of how the Saskatchewan Safety Council, Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance, and the Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan are working together to create a province of safety excellence.
The course was officially launched on July 15th 2021, at a public event hosted by Wappel Construction at a jobsite in Northeast Regina.