Meet IHSA’s High Risk Activity Training and Operations department

With many years of experience working in the industries IHSA serves, our health and safety consultants are an essential resource for our members.

Industry award winners

The professional backgrounds of IHSA’s health and safety consultants are as diverse as the industries we serve. But they’re united by the passion for health and safety they’ve fostered after years spent doing high-risk work.

Each of our consultants have two jobs: they teach a variety of training programs at IHSA facilities and provide in-field consulting services to our members. In both capacities, they share their in-depth knowledge of industry-specific hazards and regulatory requirements with Ontario workers so that they can stay safe.

Education through experience

IHSA’s training and operations department typically hires consultants who have subject-matter expertise by working in the trades. This helps to ensure they’re fit to teach workers at all stages in their career.

“Our consultants are an incredibly valuable resource for the firms we work with. They need to have real-life field experience related to what they teach, so they can answer questions in the classroom using real-life scenarios,” says Doug Heintz, Vice President of High Risk Activity Training and Operations. “As well as being a best practice, this makes the course more engaging and effective overall.”

Of course, practical experience isn’t the only thing that makes an effective trainer. Each IHSA consultant spends many hours auditing classes, earning certifications, and studying adult-education methods before they begin to teach programs on their own. They continue to learn and upgrade their trade-specific and teaching skills over the course of their careers.

Job-tested health and safety advice

On the consulting side of the equation, IHSA team members use their industry knowledge to empower companies to assess hazards at their workplaces and find solutions in the most efficient way possible. This work of identifying gaps in a firm’s health and safety plan is like solving a puzzle—where each piece is as important as any other, and they all must fit together properly.

“A central part of what IHSA does is help each company that we work with to develop an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) with COR® as its foundation,” says Paul Devoe, Manager, Regional Operations (North and West). “There’s a systematic approach to everything we do as an organization, including training and operations, because we’re dealing with people’s health, safety, and well-being.”

Lisa Hanes

Health and Safety Consultant, Regional Operations

In more than 25 years helping companies work safer, Lisa has witnessed many success stories. But it’s the setbacks that remind her why she pursued a career in occupational health and safety in the first place.

Throughout her career she’s worked with several firms that have experienced serious or fatal workplace incidents and has seen the impact those events had on each business’s personnel. If anything good can come from such tragedies, it’s that they can help employers and workers to truly understand the stakes of proper hazard recognition, risk assessment, and preventing unsafe work. These teachable opportunities keep Lisa motivated in her role at IHSA.

Lisa first joined IHSA as a COR® evaluator, then moved into the Training and Operations department in 2016. She teaches various IHSA programs—including COR®-related courses—and performs consulting services such as occupational health and safety management system development.

“What we do is important because there’s such a need for it—people are injured at work every day,” she says. “We have the opportunity to educate, influence, and encourage workers and management to improve their internal responsibility system in order to prevent injuries and illnesses both at work and at home.”

Lisa says her time spent working hands-on with construction firms of all sizes—and her own experience project-managing residential home builds—helps her better relate to the workers and companies she advises. It also helps her to better explain the concepts she teaches: she has many real-world examples of how health and safety management can positively affect worker well-being.

As a consultant, she draws on extensive experience, including a role as a health and safety coordinator at a manufacturing facility early in her career, plus years reviewing companies’ policies, standards, and training as an auditor for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). It’s all given her a serious eye for identifying OHSA-compliance issues, and the skills to help businesses address health and safety concerns that may be putting their workers at risk.

David Burns

Powerline Training and Apprenticeship Consultant

IHSA is one of a select few organizations authorized by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development to conduct skills-based training for all four levels of the powerline technician (PLTN) apprenticeship program—and David is among the select number of experts who delivers that training.

IHSA offers the PLTN program year-round at its Skills Development Centre in Mississauga, and in partnership with Cambrian College in Sudbury and St. Clair College in Windsor. Each year, hundreds of apprentices participate in the program to get a hands-on skills-based education in the growing electrical utilities industry. Apprenticeship trainers also take courses through IHSA, and then go on to deliver these programs at workplaces across the province.

David himself completed a PLTN apprenticeship with Hydro Ottawa, and worked as a powerline technician for more than 15 years before joining IHSA in 2020.

As with any other apprenticeship in the skilled trades, health and safety was foundational to David’s training. “As an experienced tradesperson, I can provide apprentices with real-world examples of how safety policies and procedures, like the Utility Work Protection Code, are actually applied in the field,” he says. “I’ve been there. I know firsthand why these rules exist, and I know how to apply them safely.”

David’s expertise can be applied outside of the classroom and training grounds, too. Companies can engage an IHSA PLTN consultant to discuss the Electrical Utility Safety Rules or Utility Work Protection Code with them one-on-one, or to perform audits of utilities, crews, and safety policies and procedures.

“Whether you’re consulting or providing training, people will want to listen to you—and take in what you’re teaching them—if they see you have the work experience and can be confident that you actually know what you’re talking about,” David says.

Kim Campagnaro

Health and Safety Consultant, Regional Operations

After graduating from Niagara College’s Human Resource Management program in the late 1980s, Kim was encouraged by a family friend to enter the construction industry. He became a Red Seal drywall finisher and plasterer and would go on to work on behalf of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 1891 for almost 15 years.

In 1999, Kim was seriously injured at work after falling from a height of almost five metres. After a months-long recovery, he pivoted and became an apprentice trainer for the IUPAT. By 2002, he had parlayed his trades experience and certification, as well as his recent teaching experience, into an instructor role with the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO), one of the associations that would merge to form IHSA in 2010.

“I had been an apprentice instructor in my trade for three years at that point and had been delivering CSAO training programs,” he recalls. “And I had more than enough on-the-job experience to identify the hazards.”

Two decades later, Kim leads approximately 20 different IHSA training programs in the Niagara Region, including Joint Health and Safety Committee Part 1, Basics of Supervising, and Hoisting and Rigging. He says health and safety consultants need practical experience in their respective trades in order to help IHSA members create safe workplaces. Their unique skill sets help them give trusted, industry-specific advice on topics such as training requirements, safe-work best practices, and interpreting the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulation for Construction Projects.

Besides knowing that he’s making the province’s construction sector a safer place to work for thousands of people, Kim says the most rewarding part of his job is mentoring young and new workers who have an interest in occupational health and safety—and seeing them enter the industry themselves.

“Sometimes after teaching a training program, you wonder if what you’ve taught has had an impact,” he says. “But you have to trust the system and believe that workers are going to take what you’ve taught them and use that knowledge appropriately.”

Melanie Whittier

Health and Safety Consultant, Health and Safety Education and Accredited Programs

With decades of formal education and experience as both a driver and trainer, Melanie now works to help improve health and safety practices and eliminate workplace hazards in Ontario’s transportation industry.

After earning her Class B driver’s license in 1987 (she also holds Class A, M, and Z licenses), Melanie began training school bus drivers, and spent years consulting for companies across the transportation sector, including for firms that operated fleets of school buses, coaches, and vehicles with air brakes. She’s used the skills she acquired on the frontlines to help drivers and workers better understand their legal responsibilities as well as industry best practices.

“Having worked with the legislation that governs Canada’s transportation industry for almost 40 years, I’ve been able to stay in-the-know when it comes to health and safety regulations and best practices as the sector has evolved,” she says.

Before joining the Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario (an IHSA legacy association) full-time in 2006, Melanie became certified as a signing authority under Ontario’s Driver Certification Program—under the authority of the Ministry of Transportation (MTO)—which allows her to train, test, and recommend commercial drivers for license upgrades. All signing authorities with training responsibilities specific to Ontario driver’s licenses are required to recertify every five years. They do so by completing a 10-day program that Melanie instructs at IHSA.

Beyond that, she teaches more than a dozen IHSA courses for the transportation sector, including Defensive Driving, In-Cab Evaluation “Train the Trainer” (to help professional driver trainers build their skills), and a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) Facility Audit Overview seminar.

And as an in-demand consultant, Melanie works with companies to review their CVOR and provides guidance on topics such as how to proceed with an intervention by the MTO.

Melanie is also proud to carry the flag for women in a traditionally male-dominated industry. She hopes her presence encourages other women to pursue rewarding careers in transportation or occupational health and safety.

Trusted expertise

The depth of experience IHSA’s health and safety consultants bring to their roles ensure that they can deliver world-class services to many different types of employers and workers, no matter the complexity of their needs.

“Workers who attend an IHSA course or seek out our consulting services know that they’re getting advice from skilled professionals whose knowledge is proven and certified,” IHSA’s Doug Heintz says. “Our consultants have been in Ontario workers’ shoes and have seen firsthand why what we do at IHSA is so critically important.”

Province-wide reach

In 2023, IHSA trained more than 54,000 people at our facilities and at member workplaces across the province. IHSA’s regional training centres reflect our strong commitment to providing accessible health and safety education opportunities for all our members, no matter their size or location. Our centres also allow us to host gatherings for Labour-Management committees, the Fleet Safety Council, and more—to further promote skills development and support growth across Ontario.