WorkSafeBC Regulations 4.1.1 and 4.1.2
New regulations come into effect February 1st, 2015
This section contains information related to current issues with respect to Occupational Health and Safety Regulation in BC.
Amendments for 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 including Explanatory Notes
Update: December 23, 2014
WorkSafeBC Regulations 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 Update
February 2015 Implementation of OHS Regulations 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 in BC
At its meeting in October 2014, the WorkSafeBC board passed regulations 4.1.1 and 4.1.2, for avalanche risk assessment workplaces affected by avalanche hazard. These revisions replace the earlier regulation 4.1.1, which WSBC elected not to enforce. 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 will formally come into effect on February 1, 2015. All members with the responsibility to do so should review operational avalanche safety plans (ASPs) for compliance. Members providing advice to employers will want to review the regulations for specific rules on where ASPs are required and where safe work procedures may be appropriate. Most operations with well-established avalanche safety plans will likely also be in compliance with the new regulations, but each employer will need to make this determination for his or her workplace.
Formal consultation on these regulations goes back to the fall of 2013, with informal consultation going back further still. The CAA submitted its comments on the draft regulations in January 2014. The main shift in the regulations, as members will recall, is the shift from reliance on the advice of a Qualified Avalanche Planner to a qualified person to address avalanche hazard affecting the workplace. WorkSafeBC defines a qualified person under Section 1.1 of the OHS regulation as an individual “knowledgeable of the work, the hazards involved and the means to control the hazards, by reason of education, training, experience or a combination thereof.” The Board of Directors and Standards and Ethics Committee believe this shift complements the CAA’s work towards defining member competencies. While members will need to self-assess on their own as to whether they are qualified to perform certain tasks as a qualified person, over time the CAA’s competency profile tools will provide members greater assistance in making this determination.
Stakeholder consultation on the Guideline for 4.1.1 and 4.1.2
WorkSafeBC heard many of the CAA’s concerns in modifying the draft regulation, particularly around closing loopholes that would allow employers to avoid the use of ASPs in favour of safe work procedures. WorkSafeBC also invited the CAA along with other stakeholders to participate in development of the Guideline for 4.1.1 and 4.1.2.
The first draft of the guideline provided to the CAA by WSBC in late November incorporates key points advocated by the CAA in our earlier submission. It distinguishes between investigatory avalanche risk assessments for developing avalanche programs and operational avalanche risk assessments such as forecasts that may occur within an established program. This key distinction will ensure employers use the appropriate qualified person for each of these distinct tasks.
The draft guideline, however, still needs work in addressing terminology in the regulation we were unsuccessful in changing. In the view of the CAA Board of Directors, terms such as “intermittent,” “moving without stopping for a significant length of time in a particular area of the workplace” and “minimal potential to trigger” are not well addressed in the guideline. This view is shared by several other stakeholders, such as the ACMG, HeliCat Canada, and BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Other challenges remain in areas such as the apparent suspension of plans and procedures under emergency situations.
On January 8, 2015, the CAA and other stakeholders will attend another meeting with WSBC’s policy branch to work on the guideline. The CAA’s approach to the guideline is to address areas that WSBC did not address in the regulation based on our feedback in January 2014. The CAA’s response to the draft guideline can be found here.
Perspective on 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 Implementation, and the difference between Guidelines and Regulations
The CAA has expressed concerns to WSBC about the new guidelines coming into force mid-season. We have been assured that the enforcement branch will take a gradual approach, initially focusing on employer education, prior to stricter enforcement measures. Again, employers with robust avalanche safety plans in place that use best practices will likely want to review the new regulations to ensure compliance, but in most cases solid ASPs will likely require few if any changes.
Guidelines vs. Regulations
While the process to change OHS regulations is long, with strict consultation protocols, the process to change guidelines for the regulations is much more flexible. Guidelines offer enforcement officers and employers practical advice to ensure compliance with regulations. If this advice needs to be modified, doing so is likely far more achievable than changing the regulation. As such, we will encourage members to provide feedback on the final guideline and its practical implications after its practical effects in the workplace have been documented. If the guideline does not provide reasonable advice to enforcement officers, employers and CAA members we may approach WSBC to modify the guideline again.
Please direct any questions or concerns you may have to President Aaron Beardmore or Executive Director Joe Obad.