Elk Valley High-School Students to be Hands-On with Heavy Machinery during Project Heavy Duty

Students will learn the importance of safety training and receive mentoring from equipment operators as they learn

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Students wearing orange and yellow vests pose in front of heavy machinery for Worksafe BC

During Project Heavy Duty, 24 students from Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie Secondary Schools will learn the importance of safety training and receive mentoring from equipment operators as they gain hands-on experience with heavy machinery. — Photo courtesy Jeff McKay

Local businesses and organizations are teaming up to introduce Grade 11 and 12 secondary students to equipment-operating jobs in the construction industry during “Project Heavy Duty” from May 6-8.

The program, back for a sixth year, is an educational partnership between School District 5, the District of Sparwood, Teck Resources, SMS Equipment and WorkSafeBC.

During Project Heavy Duty, 24 students from Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie Secondary Schools will learn the importance of safety training and receive mentoring from equipment operators as they gain hands-on experience with heavy machinery.

Starting Monday May 6, participants will take part in a WorkSafeBC safety orientation and a tour of Teck Resources’ Line Creek Operations and SMS Equipment shop in Elkford. On May 7 and 8, students will receive first-hand experience with heavy-equipment operation at the District of Sparwood Middletown property. As part of the
program, the students previously completed their First Aid Level 1 training at College of the Rockies.

This educational program will give students the opportunity to:

• make contacts with potential employers and understand job expectations;
• increase awareness of workplace safety; and
• promote awareness of heavy industry career opportunities in the Elk Valley.

Media are invited to attend Project Heavy Duty on the following date:

Date: Wednesday, May 8th
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Location: 2600 Middletown Place, Sparwood, BC, V0B 2G0
Directions: Coming from Cranbrook, turn right at the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 43, go to the end of the cul-de-sac and turn left. Please go to the large tent at the yard entrance marked “First Aid”.

Media in attendance are required to wear sturdy, non-slip shoes, and any other personal safety equipment they wish to bring for their own protection. Hard hats and high-visibility vests will be provided at the site and all safety gear must be worn.

What is the objective of Project Heavy Duty?

Project Heavy Duty will introduce 24 School District No. 5 high school students to the variety of jobs available in the road building and construction industries. The students will learn the importance of safety training and receive mentoring from equipment operators as they learn through hands-on experience to operate different types of heavy machinery.

How were the students chosen?

Interested students completed an application form which was reviewed by the School Counselors who checked attendance and course history. The students were then interviewed and selected for the program.

Is there a cost to the students?

The students pay nothing for participating in the program. All of the equipment, operators, and machinery servicing have been donated by local companies.

Will the students be safe?

Prior to their time at the District of Sparwood Middletown Site, WorkSafeBC will conduct the safety orientation for the site the students who are provided with a hard hat, high-vis vest and safety glasses. The College of the Rockies will conduct computer based WHMIS training and First-Aid Training for the students. The students are covered by School District No. 5’s liability insurance. At all times, the students are under the direct supervision of machine operators. WorkSafeBC occupational safety officers will be on the site.

Who are the organizers of Project Heavy Duty?

It is a partnership of School District No. 5, The College of the Rockies, WorkSafeBC, the District of Sparwood and local businesses.

What is the extent of community involvement?

More than 20 local companies have donated time, equipment, and food services to meet the needs of the more than 50 people who will be on the site at any one time.

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