A holistic approach: CanREA to launch Human Factors workplan

On May 31, CanREA will launch a unique new resource addressing Human Factors issues in Canada’s renewable-energy industry 

CanREA is proud to launch a new, robust resource for Canada’s renewable-energy industry, one that addresses key issues about Human Factors in a holistic manner. 

“In a workplace, Human Factors include physical demands, cognitive demands, psycho-social elements, fiscal elements and more. We are taking a holistic approach to all these factors,” said Mary MacLean, CanREA’s Environment, Health and Safety & Workforce Development Project Coordinator, who is leading the association’s efforts to address human factors for wind, solar and storage technicians.  

This resource, in the form of a three-year Human Factors Workplan, meticulously breaks down this all-encompassing topic into categories relevant for renewable energy operations, substantiates the importance of these issues, and explores their interconnectedness while touching on ergonomics, training, mental health and diversity needs. 

“Many of these individual topics have been addressed in silos before, but this is the first time they are pulled together into a cohesive plan,” said MacLean. “There is nothing else out there like this.” 

Don’t miss the Human Factors presentation at CanREA’s Operations Summit 2022, when Mary MacLean (CanREA’s Environment, Health and Safety & Workforce Development Project Coordinator)  will present this project, assisted by two of Canada’s renewable energy Environment, Health and Safety experts (Michael Baker of Enbridge Power and Mike Doherty of Blue Arc Electrical Safety Technologies Inc.). This presentation will also explore some of the specifics of ergonomics and electrical safety for renewable energy site operations. To learn more, visit the event website.

Over the past year, CanREA has committed significant resources to this Human Factors Workplan project, hiring a full-time Environment, Health and Safety Project Coordinator and several student interns, made possible by funding from Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC). 

As lead author, Mary MacLean was assisted by Conor Tosh, a Master’s student at the University of Lethbridge, and Phil McKay, CanREA’s Senior Director of Operations, and informed by the members of CanREA’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee, particularly the seven CanREA members in the new Human Factors Working Group, who are all part of the National Operations Caucus. 

“Our members advised us on which tools and equipment to include, and which specific weather conditions were important considerations,” she explained. “When you are up 300 feet in the air and a storm is approaching, you might be tempted to make different decisions than you would in calm weather, for example. This is important for companies to address.” 

CanREA also looked at the psychological impacts of working remotely. “When you are working in a team of two on Bear Mountain, hours from emergency first responders, you know that you can’t easily get help if something happens, and your work decisions can be affected,” said MacLean. 

What are the next steps for CanREA’s Human Factors Working Group? “We will launch the Workplan at the Operations Summit in Toronto and we will share it with CanREA members,” said MacLean. “After that, we will start to prioritize which items from the Human Factors Workplan to focus on next.” 

“This resource is intended to be useful for CanREA members,” said MacLean. “We are hoping it will broaden everyone’s understanding of Human Factors in our industries.”  

According to MacLean, CanREA aims to help members address Human Factors issues using an effective, interconnected approach. Because ultimately, Canada’s thriving renewable-energy industry is made up not only of technologies but also of human beings, on whom we all depend to make Net-Zero happen, as laid out in CanREA’s 2050 Vision.

CanREA would like to thank contributing members of the National Operations Caucus and specifically of the Human Factors Working Group for their essential contributions of materials and time. These members include representatives from Capital Power, Capstone Infrastructure, Enbridge, Liberty Power, Martin Up Consulting Inc., Pattern Canada, Suncor Energy Inc., TriSummit Utilities and Vestas Canada.  

For more information on this Caucus, visit CanREA’s Caucuses and Programs webpage or contact our membership team.