The award was presented at the annual general meeting of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) on Sept. 18 in Mississauga.
IHSA president and CEO Al Beattie and Local 793 president Joe Redshaw, who is co-chair of the IHSA board of directors, presented the award to Gallagher.
Redshaw told the audience that Gallagher, who was president of the Construction Safety Association of Ontario in 2005, is deserving of the award because he has been very active in promoting worker safety and has led many initiatives to make worksites safer.
After accepting the award, Gallagher thanked the IHSA, noting it’s a “tremendous privilege” to receive such an honour.
In his remarks, Gallagher called on stakeholders at the meeting, as well as the IHSA and the province to do more to protect young workers in Ontario’s construction and other industries.
“The message I’d like to leave you with is that we’ve got to look after our young people. Young people, when they’re starting out, are vulnerable workers and they need our help.
“We want to attract young people but let’s give them the tools they need to be successful and the proper training that they need to do the job safely and well.”
Gallagher said young workers in Ontario have 50 lost-time injuries every day.
“That comes to more than 18,000 workers, young people that are under the age of 25 that get injured when they go out to work in the province of Ontario, so I really want to call upon you and the association and the Ontario government to step it up and fix that problem because that’s not right.”
He encouraged stakeholders, the IHSA and the province to provide better entry-level training for young workers.
“I call upon you to do more and that includes me and my group. We’ve got to do more to make sure young people can go and do the job and have a healthy career throughout their lives.”
Gallagher noted that a prevention council has been set up under chief prevention officer George Gritziotis, but more time, money and manpower should be devoted to accident prevention.
“I would call upon that prevention council to become more aggressive, be more active.”
Gallagher’s father, the late Gerry Gallagher, founder of Local 183 of the Labourers’ union, was posthumously awarded the Phinnemore award in 1993.