A new Builders Code aims to combat hazing, bullying and harassment on all construction sites. (Black Press File)

New code aims to crack down on bullying and harassment on construction sites

Victoria workshops on Builders Code will take place Sept. 24 and in January 2020

Construction companies that fail to adopt a new voluntary conduct code risk economic demise, says the president of the British Columbia Construction Association.

Chris Atchison made that comment in discussing a new code aimed at combating hazing, bullying and harassment on all construction sites. The association has recently announced a series of training workshops for the Builders Code, an initiative of the Construction Workforce Equity Project.

The code — a third party resource — advertises itself as a “comprehensive compilation of all the important aspects and policies required to promote and maintain safe and inclusive worksite cultures.”

According to a release, the Builders Code offers employers a wide range of resources, including downloadable policies and posters, online and onsite training for personnel, employer advisors, employer scorecards and awards, and eventually, a crew training app.

By way of background, a large portion of construction companies consist of smaller teams, with over 23,000 companies across B.C. made up of 20 employees or less, and many often lack the human resources or mediation skills required to address inappropriate work behaviour.

RELATED: New role created to mediate on-site harassment for construction employers

Victoria will host two workshops. The first one scheduled for Sept. 24 will be for corporate leaders, executives and human resources personnel. A second workshop is scheduled for January 2020 for site supervisors, forepersons and union business managers.

Atchison said the construction industry knows it needs to change its culture if it wants to align itself with more progressive human resources policies. Such a move is imperative if it wants to attract and retain workers, he said, in pointing out that women make up five per cent of the workforce, yet 50 per cent of women leave construction within two years of taking their first job in the industry.

If the construction industry wants to meet its goal of raising the share of women in the industry to 10 per cent by 2028 as per the code, it needs to better, said Atchison.

RELATED: Annual study shows high satisfaction with B.C. post-secondary schools

He acknowledged that the code is voluntary, but the industry is actively encouraging employers to adopt it because of the financial implications for the industry.

“A skilled tradesperson is a valuable asset, not a gender or demographic,” he said earlier this month. “Worksite behavior is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.”

A report from BuildForce Canada finds that the province is “facing very tight construction labour markets” over the coming decade thanks to “unprecedented” demand for non-residential construction along with “sustained levels of residential construction” in the Lower Mainland.

“To meet these demands, the non-residential sector alone will need to add 17,000 new workers between 2019 and 2021,” it reads.

About 22 per cent cent of 178,000 employees currently working in the 34 direct trades and occupations monitored by BuildForce Canada are set to retire by 2027.

“If the industry is successful in recruiting from the pool of 32,900 new entrant workers anticipated to be available during this period, increased demand for construction services will still leave the industry with a shortfall of 7,600 workers by 2027,” it reads.

BCAA figures peg the shortfall even higher. For more information, visit builderscode.ca.

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