WorkSafeBC Planning Safety Committee Changes

The proposed changes were developed following two fatal explosions in early 2012 at sawmills in the province.

Public hearings will take place this fall about proposed amendments to WorkSafeBC's Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that affects joint health and safety committees. The proposed changes have been subject to one round of public consultation and were developed following two fatal dust explosions in early 2012 at sawmills in the province, based on provincial government legislation (Bill 35) and recommendations from coroners' inquests into the explosions.

The agency's proposed changes would affect the evaluation of a joint committee's work; training for new joint committee members and new worker health and safety representatives; and participation in employer incident investigations. The proposed evaluation would ensure that safety committees' work is reviewed every year to ensure they are in compliance and to identify ways to increase their effectiveness.

Following the public hearings, WorkSafeBC's board of directors will consider feedback to the proposed changes. If they are approved, a new section of the Regulation (3.27) would require that new joint committee members and worker health and safety representatives receive at least eight hours of instruction and training in their new roles; the training would have to be completed as soon as possible and no more than six months after that person was selected. And a new section of the Regulation (3.28) would clarify the meaning of "participation" for worker and employer representatives with respect to their participation in employer preliminary and full investigations by expanding the list of what "participation" includes, that is, assisting persons carrying out the investigation with gathering information, analyzing the information collected, and identifying any corrective actions necessary to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

Once proposed changes are approved, the guideline will be available at worksafebc.com.

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