Creating a Positive Worksite Culture
There is growing recognition that just as physical harm puts health, safety and productivity in the workplace at risk, so too does psychological harm. Which is why Western-Canadian construction company Impact Drywall Inc is proud to have joined the large and rapidly growing number of signatories to the Builders Code Acceptable Worksite Pledge this past April.
Created in 2019 by the BC Construction Association (BCCA), the Builders Code provides a standard code of conduct for workers on construction sites in BC. Based on an expanded definition of workplace safety to include bullying and harassment, its intention is to create a worksite where everyone is free to be themselves, but where there is also awareness of what behaviour is appropriate and what behaviour isn’t.
The Builders Code brings the expectation of courtesy directly to the worksite and makes employers and employees accountable. As such, it adds teeth to the provisions of the province’s Workers Compensation Act regarding workplace bullying and harassment, which are enforced by WorkSafeBC (WSBC).
With construction sites becoming increasingly diverse and more women joining the industry, the adoption and implementation of the Builders Code has become even more timely, says Bianca Cooper, general manager of Impact’s Kelowna Office.
“It’s becoming better for women in construction, but we still face bullying, harassment and ridicule on some work sites,” she says. “I know, because it’s happened to me. I don’t want other women to go through the same things I had to endure. That’s why the Builders Code is important. The signatories make a pledge and the owners are accountable”.
"With construction sites becoming increasingly diverse and more women joining the industry, the adoption and implementation of the Builders Code has become even more timely."
Cooper acknowledges that the Code will be most effective once it is adopted by every construction company in BC. Approximately 300 companies in the industry have now signed on across the province.
Just what kinds of behaviour does the Builders Code aim to mitigate?
The Builders Code addresses hazing, discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying, and targets physical, verbal and emotional abuse.
And what do those behaviours look like on the worksite?
Receiving unwanted advances. Being whistled at. Being berated for your looks, your gender, your skill set, your accent. Or being on the receiving end of constant aggression, disrespect or obscene gestures.
Companies signing the pledge indicate that they are committed to creating a respectful worksite culture where everyone feels safe, free from unwanted distraction, valued, and able to perform to the best of their ability.
There will likely be another benefit to companies taking the pledge, says BCCA chief strategy office Lisa Stevens, who was the lead on developing and putting the Builders Code into practice.
“Many workers drop out of construction after just one year. Often the reason is a negative workplace culture”, she says. “Implementing the Code will likely improve worker retention, too”.
Many workers drop out of construction after just one year. Often the reason is a negative workplace culture. Implementing the Code will likely improve worker retention too.
Online modules and virtual workshops - as well as free downloadable Builders Code policies—together comprise the educational component of the program. Companies signing the Pledge have their name and logo prominently displayed at www.builderscode.ca, and can print off a copy of the pledge to display in their offices.
Signing and displaying the Builders Code sends a great message to prospective clients as well as prospective employees about a company’s dedication to respectful, inclusive worksites, says Cooper.
Impact Drywall Inc. is proud to be among the signatories.
“The pledge is close to our hearts and we are ready to make a big impact towards psychological safety on worksites” she says.