The launch of a nationally standardized Web-based training course will improve worker mobility and safety, according to leaders within Canada’s pipeline construction industry.

Called the Construction Sector Council‘s Pipeline Construction

Safety Training Course, the e-learning initiative includes 4.5 hours of material on CD-ROM that gives would-be pipeline workers an introduction to the industry and safety.

This the first product to run off the Construction Sector Council’s (CSC) distance learning engine, a software application that allows organizations to create, store, use and re-use construction learning content.

“”This is the most efficient and cost-effective way to have standards across the country,”” said George Gritziotis, the executive director of CSC, the association that is overseeing the project.

Gritziotis said the majority of pipeline work is being done in Alberta and the Maritimes, but labourers come from all corners of Canada to work in the billion-dollar industry that employs 24,000 Canadians. With standardized national safety training previously unavailable, according to Gritziotis, future workers can be trained anywhere in Canada, from union offices to town halls.

“”What you learn in Nova Scotia, you can use in Alberta,”” he said.

Operating, in part, on a $478,216 grant from the Government of Canada, the development of the program involved years of collaboration with industry players, such as companies and safety councils. Since safety training is provincially based, a team identified common core principles from all provinces to create the national course.

Jay Corder, assistant director of the Pipeline Contractors Association of Canada, used the controversial Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project as an example of an initiative where workers will benefit from web-based training. The 1,220-kilometre, $7 billion Mackenzie project in northern Alberta and the North West Territories is set to begin churning out gas by 2009, triggering a surge in available work

“”This kind of program is perfect for introducing people to the industry,”” he said. Corder warned that the course is an introducation to the industry, meaning owners and contractors still need teach safety on their sites.

Gerry Harding, general manager of special projects for Pe Ben Industries in Edmonton – a transporter and handler of product in the oil and gas industry – used an Alberta based company winning a contract in Nova Scotia as an example of how the Web-based training can work. He said his company can call up the local union hall in a town to hire workers.

With the Web-based training he can be assured that these workers have completed this training. It’s quite a difference, he said, from when he first broke into the pipeline business in 1969.

“”After five years, if you still had all your fingers and arms you were considered to be a good learner,”” he said.

Harding added that the course for an individual user can cost as little as $50 in Alberta and, in some cases, unions might even pick up the tab. He said that 80 per cent of the industry is on board with the training, representing the vast majority of contractors in Canada. He said because the average construction worker is over 40 years old, the computer program is simple to use.

“”It is all done with voice-over, so people can have it read to them, if they want,”” he said.

Jim Topping, president of Banister Pipeline Construction Company in Edmonton, said that safety is a key part of the industry.

“”There is no economic gain for us (in doing this) but a lot more assurance that people have safer training,”” Topping said.

In the U.S., Jeff Share, the editor pipelineandgasjournal.com, said that there are some e-learning initiatives in his country, but, he said, there isn’t a national collaboration of industry leaders like in Canada. The difference in the U.S. and Canada, he said, is that north of the border contracts and companies are very spread out, making Web-based training vital.

“”In Canada it’s a much more convenient way to do training,”” he said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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