The busy summer season is upon us and we have dispatched crews across the province, with some out of province, working hard to improve the conditions of our roads and highways.
Paving and resurfacing some of Saskatchewan’s key arteries is crucial to our trade and transport industry and even more so to maintaining a healthy economy. It is essential we complete these projects in a timely fashion.
As fresh asphalt is poured, we’ve been meeting with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour making progress toward reworking legislation that would allow our workers to extend their workdays beyond the current regulations.
Additional hours in the workday would create a greater opportunity to complete jobs more efficiently. Currently, our employees are allowed to work 42 hours per week. Special permits allow extensions to work past the given time restraint.
We’ve heard from our employees and there’s a definite desire to work longer days – preferably 12 to 14 hours per day. Our government understands the work that is required and appears to be in favour of granting this wish.
Reaching the same level of cooperation, however, with the unpredictable Saskatchewan weather remains a challenge for those who work in our industry. Rainstorms and high winds can delay projects for days or weeks at a time.
On average, we’ll receive 100 good working days in a season. This year, we have more than 100 projects to be worked on throughout the province. The need for long hours in the fight against Mother Nature is a necessity because we know we’ll eventually be delayed by weather at some point.
The timing of our request, we feel, is ideal. Alberta is changing its hours requirements to a regulation, which would eliminate the need for an exemption. Alberta, for the past 10 years, has had exemption for road builders through the Alberta Road Builders Association (ARBA). Members of ARBA can take advantage of the exemption and work longer hours. One stipulation, though, is that members need to have a fatigue management system in place – one that will recognize when workers become fatigued and pose a potential safety risk at the job site.
It will be the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Safety Association that would implement a fatigue management system here, if one isn’t already in place.
It is our expectation the government will regulate longer workweeks for our employees, an agreement that is beneficial to all parties.