Metrolinx to incorporate safety into construction tenders

metrolinx transit construction
A pair of Cat track loaders onsite of the tunnel construction for the Eglinton Crosstown.

Successfully securing a construction tender with Metrolinx will soon require more than a low bid.

During the Ontario Road Builders Association’s 92nd annual conference, Phil Verster, president and CEO of Metrolinx, explained the transit consortium will soon include safety records when selecting a successful project bid.

“Companies that we’ve worked with — either as a prime contractor or owner — that have a high focus on safety are the companies that do well,” Verster said.

“It’s just true. If you focus on safety and you’re diligent in safety, it flows through the rest of your organization.”

The new formula will see 15 per cent of evaluation criteria directly related to safety. Verster said 10 per cent of a bid’s evaluation will relate to lost time injury frequency rate, tracked through WSIB, and five per cent will be based upon safety scores.

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“We’re going to make our contracts conditional on safety performance. Fifteen per cent swings a contract. Fifteen per cent means we removed the lowest bidder logic and philosophy,” Verster said.

“Organizations pay lip service to safety and say, ‘it’s important,’ but when I get on site, you see an elementary lack of focus, an elementary lack of safety on site.”

Verster added he looks forward to seeing how the new safety requirement influences the evolution of contractors’ construction strategy.

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“When safety becomes so engrained in your method of working, those contracts over time will become the ones that are delivered on time and at a better cost,” he said.

Metrolinx will also look to improve bid information overall for construction tenders.

“We are not good at getting good bid information. We have a huge focus to make that better. In the spirit of good faith, I want to put that out there,” Verster said. “We will get better deals, better bids and better overall delivery if we are better at getting the information in our bids.”

Throughout the next decade, Metrolinx will spend about $45 billion on transit. Verster explained transit helps drives economic growth in the Greater Toronto Area.

“The impact of what we invest in Toronto is huge. For every one dollar we invest in transit in Toronto, the payback to the economy is about $2.60,” he said. “That’s this thinking, an economy that is heathy and vibrant keeps on adding to economic momentum.”