Health and safety in the Okanagan Valley

BCIT international student Guillermo Dietsch teamed up with a Penticton fireplace manufacturer for his Occupational Health and Safety project.

Guillermo Dietsch, an international student of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Occupational Health and Safety Diploma program, prepares to embark on the long journey from the BCIT Burnaby Campus to Valley Comfort/Blaze King Industries in Penticton, BC to conduct his Safety Program Review (SPR) with the company.

“The drive takes just over four hours to complete, but it is worth my time because there I can learn and showcase my safety knowledge at the same time,” says Guillermo as he and his classmate load their suitcases into the car. “Being at my site is a rewarding experience,” he adds.

In British Columbia, WorkSafeBC requires that a formal occupational health and safety program be implemented at any business with a workforce of 20 or more workers that has a moderate or high risk of injury. The safety program helps businesses identify hazards in the workplace, minimize workplace injuries, and ensure compliance with the province’s health and safety legislation.

The student’s SPR project consists of a complete audit of Valley Comfort/Blaze King’s current health and safety program. Guillermo is conducting on-site observations, reviewing documentation, and interviewing workers, supervisor, and managers. The project covers a wide range of health and safety topics, such as safety training, incident investigations, and emergency evacuation procedures.

Once his evaluation is complete, Guillermo will submit his assessment in a full-length report and provide a short presentation to summarize his findings to the company. The final report will represent over three months of hard work and a terrific partnership between Guillermo, Valley Comfort/Blaze King, and BCIT.

Sheila Hawthorne, Valley Comfort/Blaze King’s Operations Manager, is excited to be part of the SPR project, saying: “Valley Comfort/Blaze King takes a progressive approach to occupational health and safety; we strive to go beyond compliance and that’s why we are very excited to have an outside opinion on our health and safety program.”

While the monthly trips to the Okanagan Valley take time, Guillermo has grown accustomed to travelling great distances in pursuit of education. “Before coming to BC, I was a Civil Engineer and Project Manager with a construction company in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. For me, travelling to the Okanagan is just another part of my journey.”

When asked why he chose to study at BCIT, Guillermo replied, “BCIT has one of the best occupational safety and health programs in Canada, so when I knew that I wanted to study health and safety it was an easy choice to make. Once I graduate, I look forward to combining my skills as a civil engineer and safety professional to help workers in BC’s construction industry – the Safety Program Review is a great transition from school to career.”

Guillermo will be spending his spring break at Valley Comfort/Blaze King, gathering evidence for his report and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Okanagan Valley.

The SPR project provides students with hands-on experience and businesses the opportunity help form the industry professionals of tomorrow.

Learn more about BCIT’s occupational health and safety program reviews.

For more information on this project, please contact:

Benjamin Pringle
OCHS Diploma Student
British Columbia Institute of Technology
bpringle4@mybcit.ca

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