Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

keeping our workers safe

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

keeping our workers safe

2017 is a huge year for the vivaNext program, with rapidway and terminal construction projects under design or taking shape in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

Underlying all this construction activity is one constant priority: keeping the construction crews safe.  Obviously, our contractors aren’t unique in their commitment to safe work practices – worker safety should be a top priority for any organization. This priority is backed up with the force of law. With a few limited exceptions, every worker and work space in Ontario is required to meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario [OHSA].

Under the OHSA, all companies have to develop a health and safety policy, setting out management’s commitment to providing a safe workplace. To ensure this commitment is then followed up by action, the OHSA requires employers to develop and implement a safety program to implement the policy. Safety programs are required to address general safety precautions such as worker training, fire prevention and first aid, as well as procedures and requirements addressing the specific workplace hazards company workers may face.

At a minimum, vivaNext contractors are required to follow the OHSA rules, and to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of their crews. Supervisors and crews involved in roadwork are trained in safe practices working around heavy equipment and active traffic lanes, and on the precautions needed for work involving trenching. There are multiple and stringent requirements for work around utilities.

Safety on structures like our new Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] station at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] calls for very extensive safety training. Workers working up high, like the welders, painters and crews installing the steel frame and glass, are trained in and must follow rigorous safety procedures at every step of their work. Explicit requirements are established to manage multiple activities being carried out in one area, to prevent workers accidentally encroaching into the space where other activities are underway.

Safe work requires every step to be planned in advance, and supervisors and crew are all expected to look out for each other, and to immediately flag anything they think might be unsafe. Any incident, no matter how minor, is carefully analyzed to identify potential lessons learned, to avoid it happening again. Everyone working on our projects, including our contractors, trades and all of us at vivaNext, is encouraged to point out anything they think might be a potential risk.

By empowering everyone to make safety their own personal priority, from the individual worker to the members of the senior management teams of vivaNext and our contractors, we can know that we’re doing our best to keep the crews who are widening our roads and building our stations safe and sound.


changing lights

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Most people look at traffic signals every day, but don’t notice how they’re configured, or why they’re installed the way they are. Traffic signals change quite a bit with our construction projects, and not just from green to yellow to red.

Once a project is underway, each intersection in the construction area receives a new, temporary traffic signal pole on each corner, set farther back from the road. Then temporary traffic signals are strung on wires across the intersection from these temporary poles.

Once the temporary poles are in place, the old poles and signals are removed, including any poles in the centre median in each direction.

Having the temporary poles farther back from the road allows access for relocating utilities and widening the road. As lanes are shifted and the road is widened, the temporary signals are adjusted along the wires to ensure they’re in the correct place for traffic and pedestrians.

Later in the project, new poles are installed in their final location, and permanent traffic signals are added, along with a dedicated left/U-turn signal.

Each time the traffic signals are changed, paid-duty police officers are on hand at each intersection for a few hours to ensure traffic flows safely through the intersection. If you’re on Yonge Street in Newmarket or Bathurst and Centre Streets in Vaughan, you’ve seen this firsthand recently.

For a peek at the final outcome, check out the sections of rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Davis Drive in Newmarket.

Despite the cold weather, the vivaNext team continues to work out on the corridors and behind the scenes – making progress as seamlessly as possible.


let it snow!

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Brrrr…..Winter decided to make an entrance this week! With the arrival of snow, our project teams put their winter maintenance plans into action.

With a bit of hard work and planning, the teams will ensure that our construction corridors are routinely maintained over the winter months to make sure everything is safe and secure, and that there is clear and easy access.

When our rapidway projects are in the construction phase, care and control of the corridor is transferred from York Region over to our constructor, but they need a little help maintaining the roads and sidewalks during the winter months.

They rely on our local municipalities [Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Newmarket] to assist with snow and ice clearing on the sidewalks, as well as York Region’s Roads branch to maintain the roadways.

With their specialized equipment and around-the-clock maintenance crews, the Municipalities and the Region are better equipped to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

Before our teams can put their winter maintenance plans into action, we need to ensure that our construction corridors meet minimal maintenance standards. Traffic lanes and sidewalks are inspected to make sure they are wide enough to accommodate snow clearing machinery.

All sidewalks must be cleaned and potholes filled. Traffic barrels are inspected and cleaned so that they are visible at night.

Even though snow continues to fall outside, our construction crews will continue to work at building the rapidways in Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.  Stay up-to-date on work in your area by subscribing to our updates. Happy shoveling!


the freedom of July

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

the freedom of July

July means freedom to kids and youth who are out of school, and spending time outside walking, biking and taking transit. It’s a time filled with the promise of new adventures and fun on the horizon.

We’re all for adventures, but with so much activity on York Region’s streets, we hope everyone will keep safety in mind too. If you’re out for a walk or bike ride, be sure to stay outside of construction areas – even ones that appear inactive. Cross at sidewalks, and be aware of vehicles nearby. If you’re driving, give pedestrians and cyclists some extra space and lower your speed in construction areas.

Most of our projects are on or near the road, so we’re very safety conscious when setting up construction sites.

When setting up work sites, our contractors abide by legislation, safety guidelines and local bylaws, including: the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety Act [1990], Ontario Traffic Council [Book 7], and bylaws of York Region and local towns and cities.

Safety of the site and the construction workers is very important on any project. By keeping the community informed of work and maintaining good directional signs, the teams work together to make sure everyone gets home to their families.

We hope everyone finds a little adventure and a taste of freedom this summer – stay safe!


navigating the rapidways

Friday, June 10th, 2016

click here to see the video -- rapidway intersections: safe journeys

Safety on the rapidway is everyone’s responsibility, and at vivaNext, we take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at an important topic in a light hearted way. You’ll need to watch our latest safety video to fully understand what we mean, but one thing is certain: you’ll be able to relate to one of our four travellers as they navigate our roads with Viva rapidways.

Motorist Molly, for example, needs to get to her mid-block destination, but gets stuck waiting for a left turn signal. What could be causing the problem?

Cyclist Cedric also has a turning concern while on the move. When travelling on dedicated bike lanes, making a left turn can be tricky business. Must he merge into dangerous traffic to get to the left turn traffic lane? Or is there an easier way?

Pedestrian Percy and his grandfather need to be fully aware of their surroundings when crossing the street, whether it’s to the vivastation in the centre lanes, or continuing to the other side.

However you get around, it’s important to understand what everyone else is doing to make sure your journey is a safe one. Watch the video, get to know the new surroundings, and take care when you’re travelling. Davis Drive and Highway 7 now have new ways to navigate, and there’s more to come!


green space = safe space

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

green space = safe space

We’ve seen reports that support why having greenery around us can increase prosperity, improve health, and now new research says it makes the surrounding area safer.

It’s not so much the trees and shrubs themselves that keep people safe. Having an attractive space attracts people to spend time in the area – and puts more ‘eyes on the streets.’ And green space that appears cared for lets everyone know that someone owns, uses and maintains it. In the case of streets, it’s a sense of community ownership.

Well-maintained green spaces are thought to give an abstract sense of social order, and according to a community greenery experiment in Youngstown, Ohio, the safety and order extends to the surrounding area. There are all types of crime, and you can’t always predict where it will happen, but the pride of place on display with a nice park or streetscape seems to bring about positive behavior.

It’s exciting to see the trees along the Highway 7 East rapidway growing another season of new leaves, and people out enjoying the spring weather on the new sidewalks. We’re looking forward to planting trees this year on Davis Drive in Newmarket and on Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

So trees aren’t just trees. They, and their team of shrubs and grasses encourage health and wealth, and they fight crime in their spare time.


rapidways >> who goes there?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

rapidways >> who goes there?

We have rapidways open on Highway 7 East, and on Davis Drive, and most people who live and work near these new rapid transit routes know who has access to the rapidways – buses! In fact, the rapidways are paved in red and painted with “bus only” to prevent others from accidentally entering the lanes.

There are a few others who are allowed to drive in the rapidway lanes. Ambulances, fire engines and police cruisers are permitted in an emergency to get past traffic quickly and safely. This is an added benefit that the rapidways bring to each community – saving valuable time when it’s truly needed.

Vehicles such as snow plows and street cleaners maintain the rapidways as needed. Maintenance and security staff from YRT/Viva operations and their contractor, TOK Transit, also access the rapidway stations and their marked vehicles may be seen at the far end of a station platform. This part of the platform is ramped on one side for their use – but this ramp should never be used by regular traffic to cross the rapidway.

Pedestrians and cyclists have access to any vivastation via the traffic signals and crosswalk, but should never jaywalk or cycle across or along rapidway lanes. To do this is risky because it’s unexpected and distracting to both Viva operators and drivers in regular traffic. And although we fully support active and alternative modes of travel, you also can’t travel the rapidway lanes in a scooter or wheelchair, skateboard, motorcycle, hoverboard, segway, golf cart, unicycle… or any other interesting mode of transportation we haven’t thought of yet!

You may wonder why Viva buses use the rapidways, but YRT buses don’t. The reason is that YRT buses either need to turn on and off the road frequently to gather customers, or their purpose is different – e.g., more stops, turning into shopping plazas, etc. Viva and YRT routes are evaluated by YRT/Viva’s Service Planning branch on a regular basis, and service changes are made to routes and schedules as needed.

A street that includes a rapidway is a complete street, with space for doing everything in a safe and efficient way.  Hope you get out and enjoy our streets this spring!


vivastations >> built for comfort and safety

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

vivastation safety and comfort

We’ve taken every possible step to make the vivastations on the new Davis Drive rapidway feel like a safe haven, especially considering the stations are located in the middle of a busy roadway.

While you wait for transit, you can take comfort in the fact that you are well protected from the elements and adjacent traffic, and able to get help easily if you need it.

safety starts with design

The new vivastations include a variety of safety features, and are designed with transparency and good lighting in mind – two key principles of CPTED [Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design]. Stations have a concrete barrier wall along the traffic side, and a steel and glass guardrail beyond the glass canopy. The glass is impact-resistant with an interior film that prevents shattering [similar to a windshield] and provides UV sun protection.

call buttons are crucial

In the case of an emergency, an Emergency Call Button is clearly marked inside the glass enclosure. Its speaker provides immediate two-way contact between the caller and YRT operators. Call audio is recorded and time-stamped, as is the video automatically captured by the closest of three security cameras when the button is pushed. When the button is pushed, blue strobe lights on the Variable Message Sign [VMS] and the button are triggered to indicate to passing emergency services that assistance is needed, and transit staff will dispatch emergency services if needed.

safety is personal too

As much as we’ve designed vivastations to be safe, safety is also in the hands of those driving and walking on Davis Drive. While many drivers are now accustomed to making U-turns, but for others, it’s new. Drivers and pedestrians should both stay alert, and keep an eye out for one another, especially in intersections – and especially in fall and winter when daylight is in short supply.

two-stage crossings have rest spots

Because intersections were widened, a two-stage crossing at crosswalks is recommended for pedestrians. There are waiting areas in the middle of the crosswalk, where pedestrians can press the “walk” button and wait for the next signal.

Safety features are one of those things that are only top of mind when they’re needed. We hope that you always keep them in mind. That way you can rest assured that your rapidway trip will be a safe haven.

those carefree summer days are here!

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

those carefree summer days are here

School’s wrapping up and summer’s here! Are you excited? We are. Summer is the time of year when vivaNext gets a lot done. This summer, work on our Davis Drive rapidway in Newmarket is entering the home stretch, and we’re excited to see it taking shape. We’re also widening roads and paving in Vaughan on Highway 7 West, and last but not least we are putting the final touches on our Highway 7 rapidway in Markham in preparation for the Pan Am Games.

Summer is a great time for you to get things done too – important things like swimming, cycling, camping and barbecues.

Warm weather and no school mean carefree days, which is why it’s more important than ever to drive carefully. Children and teens will be running around having the time of their lives. Sometimes they run into the streets without looking, skateboard on busy streets, or do other things you wouldn’t expect. It’s motorists’ job to be extra vigilant, helping our kids stay safe.

In our busy lives, driving sometimes feels like a race from one place to the next. Is it really worth the rush? Sidestepping rules of the road by talking on a cell phone or rolling through a stop sign can be tempting. But, take your time. Slow down and enjoy the summer. Keep your attention on the road and watch for construction detours, speed signs and children.

And if you find driving is becoming a little tedious, you can try Viva, which is running throughout York Region. As you know, six kilometres of bus rapid transit are already running in Markham from Bayview to Warden, providing travel times that are as much as 35% faster, so experience it firsthand.  This route will be a fast, convenient alternative to driving your car throughout the Pan Am Games this summer.

However you choose to get around, we hope you make the most out of your summer – drive with care and be safe!


working in harmony with the weather

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

working in harmony with the weather

As Canadians, we tend to be a little bit obsessed with the weather, and no wonder. With such extreme fluctuations, our climate affects everything we do: our commutes, our weekend plans and our way of life. Watching the Weather Network is one of our national pastimes, right up there with hockey.

At vivaNext, our crews work in all kinds of weather to build a rapid transit system for York Region.

When the sun shines, crews push forward to get the job done. But when the forecast is for thunderstorms, extreme heat or cold, heavy rain or snow, our crew leaders have to assess the situation and decide whether or not to work. Then they make a call, for the safety of their people and the success of the project.

extreme heat

At this time of year, extreme heat poses a major weather hazard. Paving when it’s 35°C can be dangerous for the health of our crews, and plain miserable as well. However, a worker in a trench below ground may find it cool enough to work in extreme heat.


Lightning and thunder are a no-go from a safety perspective. But as we all know, the weather report is a changeable beast. When the forecast is thunderstorms, contractors building vivaNext rapidways have to make tough decisions. They can bring their crews out and then find it’s too stormy to work. Or they can call off work for the day, only to find the storm never comes and a perfectly good working day is lost. The decision comes down to safety.


Crews can pave in light rain for one or two days, but eventually wetness takes a toll. A tarp or cover can be used when pouring concrete in the rain, while waiting for it to cure. The safety of the men and women working on vivaNext projects is a top priority. Rain can make construction sites slippery, muddy and dangerous, and pose undue hazards.

underground weather

The weather underground is another factor. While it may be sunny and warm where we are, temperatures drop below ground.  Digging frozen ground can be a challenge and can damage equipment.

the bottom line

When our crew leaders decide not to work in bad weather, they’re thinking of the safety of the men and women they lead, and the success of the project.

Crews take advantage of Mother Nature by capitalizing on the good weather to drive vivaNext rapidway construction forward and we are happy to report we have had a great start to the construction season this year!

The result will be a transit network York Region will be proud to call its own, a legacy that keeps our communities moving forward into the future.