A review panel of the Ontario College of Trades has concluded that the current 1:1 journeyperson to apprentice ratio for three hoisting engineer trades should be maintained.

Local 793 wanted the ratio to remain the same for a number of reasons, one being to ensure that the health and safety of workers on construction sites as well as the public continues to be protected.

The panel said the 1:1 ratio would continue to provide the optimal degree of training and transfer of knowledge.

“Any changes may negatively impact health and safety (and consequently the environment),” the panel noted, “by possibly increasing job site accidents.”

The panel said that local supply and demand needs, including attracting and retaining apprentices, appear to be met with the 1:1 ratio.

Equally important, the panel concluded, it received no objections from employer groups, other unions, or individuals about the existing ratio.

“Therefore, there appears to be no justification for changing the existing 1:1 ratio and the decision of the panel is that it should be continued.”

The review was undertaken as part of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act 2009 and Ontario Regulation 458/11.

The hoisting engineer trades included in the review were: Mobile Crane Operator-Branch 1, Mobile Crane Operator-Branch 2, and Tower Crane Operator.

Local 793 was the only group to present a written submission to the panel. The submission was endorsed by the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) and the Hoisting Engineers Trade Board of the Ontario College of Trades.

The review panel weighted the submissions against a number of criteria, including how the journeyperson to apprentice ratio for the trades might affect the health and safety of apprentices and journeypersons.

The panel also examined the economic impact of the journeyperson to apprentice ratio of the trade on apprentices, journeypersons, employers and employer associations and, where applicable, on trade unions, employee associations, apprentice training providers and the public.

Local 793 had noted that accident rates remain low and that for the years 1969-2004, after the implementation of compulsory training, crane and rigging related fatalities expressed as a percentage of total construction fatalities dropped from 19.8 per cent to less than five per cent.

The union and the other two groups asserted that a key to preventing catastrophic accidents is ensuring crane operators learn to operate safely and with full knowledge of the multitude of tasks they undertake on a daily basis.

Supervision by a single, experienced, licensed journeyperson, they maintained, assists the apprentice in gaining the required skills to become a safe and effective operator.

The groups noted that continuation of a 1:1 ratio is supported by industry stakeholders, including the former Provincial Advisory Committee and the trade board on a health and safety basis.

The parties also asserted that the ratio should continue to be determined on a long-term approach rather than reacting to short-term labour or supply shortages because it would jeopardize safety and might promote reaction ratio calculations.

Moreover, since the number of cranes needed would not change, the parties maintained there is no immediate productivity increase to be garnered from increasing the number of apprentices.

The parties indicated there appears to be no shortages of apprentices and journeypersons caused by the current 1:1 ratio, nor does it appear that any will be created by continuing it.

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