Instructor hopes academy’s groundbreaking safety course will be copied

Anyone who has ever crammed for a final exam knows that months of material cannot be easily absorbed in brief time.

But it’s not impossible, as illustrated by a groundbreaking partnership between the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy and Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.

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This month, in a Canadian first, the academy and construction association teamed up to offer a condensed National Construction Safety Officer (NCSO) training course. Material that normally takes five weeks to cover was packed into 13 intense days of study.

Dave McPherson, core instructor for the program, emphasized the added safety NCSO training brings to construction sites. He’s hoping other educational institutes will copy the
13-day model.

“The more NCSOs we have in the world, the better,” said McPherson, who is also northern safety advisor with the construction association.

Elizabeth Andres, manager of the academy, said the idea for NCSO training surfaced in discussions about which course offerings were needed in the area.

In the ensuing brainstorming, it was felt that few people would be willing or able to leave their jobs for the usual five-week time frame required for NCSO training.

Andres suggested a pilot project in which the course would be heavily condensed. The plan would call for students to put in 12 hours of class time for 13 straight days, including weekends.

The course began on Monday, June 13 and wrapped up this past Saturday, on June 25 – and it was no small feat for anyone involved.

“It’s taxed the instructors, it’s taxed me. I’ve been putting in
15-hour days at work making sure everything is running, but the feedback has been…absolutely phenomenal from these students,” said Andres.

The program maximized available resources by allowing students themselves, once properly trained, to co-instruct some of the courses with McPherson. A second instructor was also hired for some of the training.

The training included 12 mandatory courses and eight optional courses. It focused on safety at construction sites and similar workplaces, and included lessons on laws designed to protect workers.

Six students took the full training. Dozens of others from Flin Flon and beyond enrolled in specific courses; some of them had been chipping away at their NCSO certification for
some time.

Students who have completed NCSO training will take a certification exam in August. McPherson expects 12 students who took some or all of their training at the academy to write the exam at that time.

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