Industry Special: Virtual shift: BCCSA’s online training capability builds in response to COVID-19 limitations

Journal of Commerce | BCCSA | January 14, 2021

Sometimes revolutions in education take years. For the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA), a shift to offering its in-person education programming online was completed in only months. While the Alliance looks forward to the day when it can again offer education programming in person, this new versatility represents a permanent extension of its educational outreach, allowing programs to reach workers wherever and whenever they require.

During the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCCSA initially suspended in-person education programming out of necessary caution.

“We weren’t sure how long the pandemic would limit the way our education programs operated,” says Erin Linde, director of health and safety services with BCCSA. “But as we saw the extent of the pandemic we realized we needed to continue to fulfill our mandate to provide education programs to our members and their employees.”

Linde says that the Alliance already possessed both the educational material and the technical capability to deliver online content and worked quickly to combine them in a format that would live up to member expectations. Those tools were tested in a trial by fire with a series of live online presentations launched in spring 2020 to provide members with the latest information on the pandemic.

“These online presentations featured our regional safety advisors, presenters from WorkSafeBC and other experts and allowed us to provide guidance on best practices to a diverse audience,” she says. “With the success of those webinars we applied our knowledge to other program offerings.”

First in line was the Alliance’s COR® Internal Auditor Course. Linde notes that many members were looking for someone in their organization to be certified so that they could complete a Certificate of Recognition (COR®) health and safety student audit of their company.

“The rebate offered to COR®-compliant companies by WorkSafeBC is significant,” she says. “We didn’t want to jeopardize that for companies that were counting on it.”

The cancellation of the BCCSA 2020 annual conference scheduled for October provided additional impetus to expand the Alliance’s online education offerings.

“Many of our members had expressed a desire to see some way for us to continue providing educational content that’s always an important part of our conference,” says Mike McKenna, executive director of the BCCSA. “While we always work to respond to industry’s needs in choosing topics for our conference, creating webinars allowed us to respond to exactly what industry was looking for, based on their requests for topics that are important to them.”

BCCSA’s first webinar of 2021 is “Isocyanates – The Silent Sensitizers” offered on Wednesday, January 20 at 10:00 am PT. The session will cover the technical and scientific knowledge required to safely work with isocyanates, offering practical guidance on managing isocyanates on site. Presenters include Melanie Gorman Ng, health and exposure scientist with BCCSA, and Jeremy Laird, safety supervisor at Ledcor. Registration is free to BCCSA members and their employees at this link.

McKenna notes that the expansion of online offerings has allowed the Alliance to be much more flexible in the educational content it offers and will continue to be part of its educational strategy.

“We can quickly pivot to whatever topic industry most needs,” he says. “We can also deliver educational programs anywhere in the province in a timely fashion without requiring anyone to travel. This expanded capability has really allowed us to extend our educational reach.”

This content is an Industry Special by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit