As a result of work done by Local 793, the Ontario government intends to introduce mandatory training of rotary drill rig operators.

The announcement was made Oct. 20 at a meeting of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario in Toronto.

Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray told delegates at the meeting that the government wants to make sure nobody operates drill rigs without proper training.

Murray noted that Local 793 apprentice Kyle Knox lost his life when a drill rig collapsed at a construction site in Toronto in October 2011, and the new rules are aimed at making sure something like that does not happen again.

Knox was killed and Local 793 member Dan DeLuca was injured when the drill rig toppled at a subway construction site at York University.

Since the accident, Gallagher and the building trades have been pressing the government to bring in mandatory training for drill rig operators.

Murray told delegates that it is because of the efforts of Gallagher and Patrick Dillon, business manager of the provincial building trades, that the mandatory training is being implemented.

After the announcement, Gallagher thanked members of the building trades for their support on the matter.

He noted that Dillon had written a letter to Minister Murray, requesting that drill rig training be made mandatory.

“We’ve worked hard on this,” he told delegates. “I’m confident that this will help prevent another tragic loss like we had last year.”

Gallagher had been pressing for mandatory training of drill rig operators since Knox was killed.

He’d met with Minister Murray to discuss the issue and also showed him a video of how a drill rig works. The video was produced by Local 793 and featured union operator Edward Christensen. Bermingham co-operated with the union on the venture.

Under existing rules, anybody who says they are competent can operate a drill rig. However, Gallagher and the union objected and sought to formalize training for drill rig operators.

A working group was formed to take an in-depth look at the regulations.

Local 793 assistant business manager John W. Anderson and apprenticeship training co-ordinator Joe Dowdall were on the working group. The committee also consisted of Anchor Shoring, Powell Contracting, Bermingham, Deep Foundations, Liebherr, Taylor Construction, HC Matcon and Bauer.

Gallagher said construction jobsites will be safer as a result of the mandatory training.

“This will no doubt save lives in the future.”

Occupational Health and Safety Act charges were recently laid against 1842887 Ontario Ltd. and OHL-FCC GP Canada Inc. in connection with the drill rig incident.