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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2014JTST0058-000977
July 15, 2014
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Enhanced worker safety goal of WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government is acting to further strengthen worker safety, build a world-class inspection and investigations regime at WorkSafeBC, and ensure increasing dust mitigation compliance in sawmills and other wood manufacturing operations by accepting all 43 recommendations in the WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan released today.

Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond made the commitment in releasing the 192-page Action Plan prepared by WorkSafeBC administrator Gordon Macatee as a part of his six-point mandate announced by the minister on April 14, 2014.

“Action will be taken immediately on key recommendations around worker safety. There are other recommendations that will take some time to fully implement because they require consultations, legislation, or policy changes at WorkSafeBC,” Bond said. “The board of WorkSafeBC has assured me they have accepted the Action Plan and will immediately begin implementing all recommendations pertaining to them. As well, government will implement those items requiring action on its part. We will have regular, public reporting on progress.”

Bond said that key recommendations for immediate action include:

  • Move forward with the development of occupational health and safety policies to specify reasonable steps for employers, workers, and supervisors to take to address combustible dust hazards.
  • The Memorandums of Understanding with Police Services and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Criminal Justice Branch should be signed.
  • Implement the sustained compliance plan for sawmills as outlined in the report.
  • Develop a plan for ongoing inspection of other wood product manufacturers and pellet mills by WorkSafeBC Prevention Officers, with appropriate enforcement efforts to bring this sector into sustained compliance.

“I expect continued aggressive action by WorkSafeBC on sustained compliance at sawmills and other wood product manufacturers to enhance safety for workers,” Bond said in response to the Phase 4 combustible dust initiative inspection results. “While we have seen continued improvement, mill operators need to achieve better compliance and the Action Plan will ensure that occurs.”

Phase 4 of WorkSafeBC’s inspection of sawmills done in accordance with the combustible dust initiative showed 84% of sawmills now in compliance, up from 58% compliance in Phase 3. Other wood manufacturing operations (pressed board manufacturing, pellet mills, and oriented strand board manufacturing) had a 40% compliance rate.

“WorkSafeBC assured me that they did not wait for the Action Plan report to start dealing with low compliance rates at other wood manufacturing operations,” Bond said. “WorkSafeBC told me they are working with mills and as necessary penalizing them to ensure compliance and that follow up inspections are already planned and will be made regularly.”

Bond said that a number of recommendations in the Action Plan will address the issue of investigations at WorkSafeBC leading to successful prosecutions.

“To ensure the possibility of successful prosecutions, the Action Plan includes a number of steps to be taken, including the MOUs, improved communications, major case management, and a model with two distinct units for investigations,” Bond said.

The Action Plan also reports out on the substantially completed statuses for two other key initiatives involving WorkSafeBC – implementing recommendations from the Babine Explosion Investigation Report (Dyble Report) and the 90-day Action Plan on sawmill safety (detailed in Backgrounders).

“The families impacted by both the Babine and Lakeland incidents have been through so much,” Bond added. “As I committed to them when Mr. Macatee was appointed, this Action Plan addresses the pressing need to both restore confidence in WorkSafeBC investigations and to make sure workers and families never again face circumstances like those at Babine and Lakeland.”

The search for a new CEO to succeed the retired head of WorkSafeBC and lead the implementation of changes at the Crown Agency starts immediately. Until the search concludes the board will be acting on Mr. Macatee’s recommendation that chief operating officer Diana Miles be appointed interim president and CEO.

The Action Plan’s recommendations are focussed on building a world-class inspection and investigations regime at WorkSafeBC, and ensuring increasing dust mitigation compliance in sawmills and other wood manufacturing operations. The Review and Action Plan found no reason for changes to the overall workers compensation model in B.C.

“In my research putting this Action Plan together, both industry and labour in B.C. were clear that any changes at WorkSafeBC should focus on the inspection and investigations regime,” Macatee said. “The world-class tools I have proposed are intended to avoid tragic situations in future by dealing with health and safety risks earlier and more firmly."

Although Macatee will return to his previous role as BC Ferry Commissioner, he will continue to oversee the implementation of his recommendations at WorkSafeBC.

“I have asked Mr. Macatee to stay on as a Special Advisor at WorkSafeBC to monitor and ensure oversight of progress on the recommendations,” Bond added. “WorkSafeBC’s board has agreed to appoint him to this role and his first task is delivering an implementation plan for today’s recommendations with specific timelines.”

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Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
250 387-2799
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2014JTST0058-000977
July 15, 2014
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan: 43 recommendations for worker safety in B.C.

Below is the list of WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan recommendations grouped by the time frame for implementation.

For action immediately

Recommendation 1
The Memorandums of Understanding with Police Services and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Criminal Justice Branch should be signed.

Recommendation 5
Move forward with the development of occupational health and safety policies to specify reasonable steps for employers, workers, and supervisors to take to address combustible dust hazards.

Recommendation 6
Implement the sustained compliance plan for sawmills as outlined in the report.

Recommendation 7
Develop a plan for ongoing inspection of other wood product manufacturers and pellet mills by WorkSafeBC Prevention Officers, with appropriate enforcement efforts to bring this sector into sustained compliance.

Recommendation 11
Changes should not be made to the fundamental structure of WorkSafeBC at this time. WorkSafeBC should continue to monitor the effectiveness of its current model.

Recommendation 15
WorkSafeBC should retain the ability to develop and approve occupational health and safety regulations.

Recommendation 43
Re-engage with the search firm immediately and expand the criteria to address the unique attributes the position of President and CEO will require.

For action in the short-term

Recommendation 2
WorkSafeBC should develop a policy to guide referrals to the Criminal Justice Branch for prosecution. The decision to refer a file for prosecution is made independently by WorkSafeBC; however, development of this policy should be informed by consultation with the CJB.

Recommendation 3
WorkSafeBC should proceed with the adoption of a major case management protocol and system in its investigations.

Recommendation 4
Implement a new investigation model that preserves the ability to conduct both cause investigations and prosecution investigations.

Recommendation 8
WorkSafeBC should assist the wood product manufacturing industry to create a health and safety association, or expand the scope of an existing one, to address occupational health and safety issues in that industry in future.

Recommendation 9
The fire inspection and prevention initiative should be extended, with continued funding from WorkSafeBC, and efforts made to find a permanent host at the municipal level.

Recommendation 10
WorkSafeBC should consider developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the appropriate agencies to ensure WorkSafeBC is notified when there is a fire at a workplace in B.C.

Recommendation 12
The worker and employer services division should be re-structured to ensure that departments carrying out similar functions fall under the same reporting structure.

Recommendation 13
Investigation services must be re-structured to accommodate the recommended dual team model for investigations.

Recommendation 16
Enhance industry and labour involvement in the setting of regulatory priorities.

Recommendation 17
WorkSafeBC should update and publish its occupational health and safety work plans annually to increase transparency and improve stakeholder involvement

Recommendation 18
WorkSafeBC should continue to put a priority on education and proactive compliance and provide resource allocations accordingly.

Recommendation 19
WorkSafeBC should review its risk-based model for the allocation of work and the setting of priorities with respect to inspection and enforcement activities.

Recommendation 29
WorkSafeBC should continue to pursue prosecutions for regulatory violations, using major case management and the appropriate evidence gathering and interviewing techniques.

Recommendation 30
WorkSafeBC should consider publishing additional information regarding employer non-compliance to increase transparency. WorkSafeBC should consult with industry and labour stakeholders on this issue.

Recommendation 31
The Memorandum of Understanding with police services should be expanded to provide guidance where a hazard alert may be necessary and to include an agreed upon procedure for making such a determination.

Recommendation 33
WorkSafeBC should routinely schedule some prevention officers to conduct inspections on weekends and evenings to create an ongoing and effective level of presence in the workplace.

Recommendation 36
Develop and implement performance measures to assess the “health and safety awareness” levels among workers; the “health and safety culture” of the business enterprise; the effective engagement of WorkSafeBC officers; and the effectiveness of compliance activities.

Recommendation 37
Develop strategies to enhance a corporate culture with focus on the following attributes: collaboration, ownership, and openness across the prevention functions of WorkSafeBC; collaboration with other regulatory entities; ongoing engagement of and collaboration with stakeholders in labour and industry; embracing innovation and technology to improve occupational health and safety compliance; and incremental escalation in the use of enforcement tools.

Recommendation 38
Evaluate internal and external communications with a view to improving the flow of information between levels and departments; establishing and formalizing clear points of contact with key external stakeholders; establishing a forum for external stakeholders to have an ongoing dialogue with WorkSafeBC on occupational health and safety issues; and increasing direct communication between WorkSafeBC and both the Criminal Justice Branch and the Ministry.

Recommendation 39
WorkSafeBC should continue to leverage new and innovative technology that will help identify emerging occupational health and safety issues.

Recommendation 40
WorkSafeBC should take the lead in creating agreements and developing technology and processes that would make data sharing between partners and jurisdictions possible.

Recommendation 41
Commit to enhanced training of WorkSafeBC officers and managers in the areas of penalty process management, administration of enforcement tools, major case management, investigation techniques, interviewing skills, report writing, use of new IT systems and tools, and collaboration skills.

Recommendation 42
Management should always take a proactive role in setting training priorities (both corporate and individual), for vetting the quality of training programs, and ensuring all staff take part on a regular basis.

For action in the medium – to long-term
(requires legislation / consideration of legislation following further analysis and/or stakeholder consultations)

Recommendation 14
Amend the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) to enhance the occupational health and safety expertise of the board of directors by adding two new members, one who has legal and/or regulatory experience and one who is an occupational health and safety professional.

Recommendation 20
Develop a hierarchy of enforcement tools.

Recommendation 21
Amend the WCA to introduce an assurance of compliance tool.

Recommendation 22
Introduce OHS citations, with escalating fine provisions, to be imposed on employers who violate certain OHS requirements.

Recommendation 23
WorkSafeBC should undertake a consultation process with industry and labour to consider whether a limited citation model should be introduced for workers who fail to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Recognizing the fact that employers have ultimate control over the workplace, the consultation should also consider whether a citation to a worker would trigger an equivalent or larger citation against the employer.

Recommendation 24
Amend the WCA to create three circumstances where stop work orders may be issued. The first is to address situations where there is danger that is not immediate but involves a high risk of serious consequences (serious injury, serious illness or death). The second is to have a stop work order apply to multiple worksites that are performing the same function in the same way (e.g., asbestos contractors and roofing companies). The third is to escalate enforcement where orders, citations and/or penalties have been ignored.

Recommendation 25
Significantly shorten the timelines for the issuing of administrative penalties through continuous ownership of the penalty order, instituting a performance management system to assess outcomes, shifting the onus around due diligence requirements, and reviewing WorkSafeBC’s penalty policies.

Recommendation 26
Ensure that when administrative penalties are imposed, the amount of the penalty is proportional, with consideration of the circumstances of the incident and the size of the employer.

Recommendation 27
Amend the WCA to improve the ability to pierce the corporate veil to address situations of non-payment of administrative penalties by an employer. Specifically, the amendment would allow the court to restrain the company, director, officer and/or person who is the directing mind of the employer from carrying on in an industry until all assessment made by WorkSafeBC, including penalties, have been paid.

Recommendation 28
Amend the WCA to improve injunctive powers to address egregious and ongoing violations of the WCA and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. Specifically, the amendment would give the BC Supreme Court the power to grant an injunction restraining a person from carrying on in an industry, or an activity in an industry, indefinitely or until further order of the Court.

Recommendation 32
Amend the WCA to specify timelines for employer incident investigations. The employer should be required to complete a preliminary investigation within 48 hours. The full investigation must be completed, and report submitted to WorkSafeBC, within 30 days with an extension available in some circumstances.

Recommendation 34
WorkSafeBC should conduct an assessment of the internal OHS review processes and give consideration to discontinuing the practice of holding oral hearings for OHS reviews; seeking an amendment to the WCA to shorten the timeframe for order reviews; seeking an amendment to the WCA to shorten the timeframes for penalty order reviews; and seeking an amendment to the WCA to reduce the time limit to apply for an order or penalty order review from 90 days to 10 days.

Recommendation 35
Amend the WCA to introduce an expedited review process for occupational health and safety citations as an alternative to existing review options.

 
Media Contact:
 
Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
250 387-2799
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2014JTST0058-000977
July 15, 2014
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Report on Dyble Report recommendations

The WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan provided an update on John Dyble’s report Babine Explosion Investigation: Fact Pattern and Recommendations. Implementation of the Dyble recommendations has been largely completed.

Category #1 Recommendations
Measures to improve interaction between investigating and prosecuting agencies

In progress – Memorandum of Understanding between WorkSafeBC and Police Services
The Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted and reviewed with the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB). The finalized document is ready for signature. The MOU was given to the CJB for review, and improvements they suggested have been incorporated into the MOU.

In progress – Memorandum of Understanding between Criminal Justice Branch and WorkSafeBC
The MOU has been finalized by WorkSafeBC and the CJB. The finalized document is ready for signature.

Ongoing – Enhanced co-operation between WorkSafeBC and Criminal Justice Branch
WorkSafeBC and the CJB continue to work co-operatively by planning ongoing seminars and training opportunities.

In progress – Legal advice during investigations
WorkSafeBC will engage with the CJB about a process to seek advice upon execution of the MOU between WorkSafeBC and the CJB.

In progress – Major case management model and senior prosecutor availability
The procurement process for a major case management system is underway, and a provider will be selected by the end of July 2014. The system is intended to be in use by the fall of 2014.

Ongoing – Regular informational meetings
WorkSafeBC and the CJB have committed to meeting twice a year to share information.

Category #2 Recommendations
Improvement of policies, procedures and communications within WorkSafeBC

In progress – Improvement of policies, procedures, and communications within WorkSafeBC
This is currently under review and improvements will be governed by the MOU between WorkSafeBC and the CJB and by the implementation of the major case management model.

Category #3 Recommendations
Enhanced training and improved working relationships

Complete – Training materials
A package of material that was provided by the CJB to policing agencies has been provided to WorkSafeBC.

In progress – Investigations protocol review and input
This review will be governed by the MOU between WorkSafeBC and the CJB, the MOU between WorkSafeBC and Police Services, and the major case management model. The protocol will also be adjusted to address input from the CJB. WorkSafeBC anticipates that there will be a new model for referring its files to the Crown under the WCA.

Ongoing – Educational seminars and training
Staff from the CJB attended WorkSafeBC training in March 2014. CJB staff provided training on a variety of topics, including legal issues in regard to fraud and Ling and Jarvis. Training on additional topics is planned for later this year.

In progress – WorkSafeBC investigative practices
As mentioned above, WorkSafeBC is conducting a review of its policies, procedures, and protocols. The review will be governed by the MOUs and the major case management model and will take into account input from the CJB.

Link to Dyble Report: http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/wab/pdf/Babine_report_Web_140211.pdf

 
Media Contact:
 
Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
250 387-2799
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2014JTST0058-000977
July 15, 2014
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Report on 90-day action plan on sawmill safety

On March 28, 2014, government, the forest industry, organized labour, and WorkSafeBC had a meeting focused on combustible dust and sawmill safety. The result of the meeting was a co-ordinated plan to accomplish a number of outcomes in the following 90 days.

The components of the 90-day plan, and the results of each one, are summarized below from the WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan.

Completed – Council of Forest Industries’ (COFI) membership conditions
On May 8, 2014, the board of directors of COFI approved a resolution around future membership requirements. The resolution stipulates that COFI membership will be contingent upon membership in Manufacturers' Advisory Group (MAG) as well as a commitment by member sawmills to use the combustible dust audit tool created by MAG.

Completed – Team of technical experts established and training provided
WorkSafeBC, MAG, and the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) have been working collaboratively to establish the terms of the Industry Advisory initiative. A Memorandum of Understanding between MAG and BCFSC around the Industry Advisor initiative was signed on May 5, 2014. The contract between BCFSC and WorkSafeBC outlining the industry advisor remuneration has been signed by both parties. MAG has hired five industry advisors have been hired and visits to 15 facilities are already scheduled.

Completed – Dust Mitigation and Control Audit protocol (MAG’s best practices)
MAG has made its Dust Mitigation and Control audit available to all B.C. sawmills. All MAG member sawmills have undertaken to complete the audit by the end of the third quarter of 2014; additional sawmills will be required to complete the audit as a result of the proposed amendments to COFI’s membership conditions. In addition, the WorkSafeBC Action Plan recommends moving forward with policies that would specify reasonable steps for employers, workers, and supervisors to take to address combustible dust hazards. A policy that specifies reasonable steps for employers (including an audit requirement), workers and supervisors to take to address combustible dust hazards will be presented to WorkSafeBC’s board of directors on July 17, 2014 with a recommendation for approval.

Completed – Awareness campaign on workers’ rights in refusing unsafe work
A toolbox kit on the issue has been provided by WorkSafeBC to employers, health and safety committees, and health and safety representatives in all sawmills.

Completed – WorkSafeBC letters setting inspection expectations to non-compliant sawmills
Letters outlining the particulars of the expectations of the Phase 4 sawmills inspections were sent to the 61 sawmills with combustible dust compliance issues identified during the Phase 3 inspections. A slightly modified letter was also sent to 83 sawmills that were included in the Phase 3 inspections but that did not have combustible dust compliance issues identified.

Completed – Phase 4 Combustible Dust Inspection Initiative
Phase 4 of the sawmill inspections began on April 7, 2014. Twenty prevention officers received specialized training and orientation. As of June 22, 2014, inspections have been completed at 100 locations. Twenty-three mills received orders relating to combustible dust regulations, including nine stop work orders.

Ongoing – Industry wide ongoing dialogue and collaboration
WorkSafeBC is continuing to dialogue and collaborate with all industry associations, key industry leaders, and the United Steelworker’s union to ensure that the deliverables set in the Joint Statement are achieved and to ensure that industry complies with the WorkSafeBC regulations around combustible dust mitigation and control and achieves an effective and sustainable compliance plan.

Link to Original 90-Day Action Plan Joint Statement: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/03/joint-statement-on-sawmill-safety-and-sustained-compliance.html

 
Media Contact:
 
Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
250 387-2799
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2014JTST0058-000977
July 15, 2014
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Results of Phase 4 Combustible Dust Initiative

Results of the Phase 4 of sawmill inspections with WorkSafeBC’s Combustible Dust Initiative

  • Sawmill compliance improved in Phase 4 of the Combustible Dust Strategy with 84% of sawmills now in compliance, up from 58% compliance in Phase 3.
  • Inspections prioritized the 61 sawmills that received orders during Phase 3 inspections including 11 mills that had received stop-work orders during Phase 3. In total, 50 locations (82%) were in compliance at the time of inspection.
  • There were also 24 random inspections of the 83 mills that were in full compliance and received no orders during the Phase 3 inspections. 21 of those 24 mills (88%) were found to be compliance.
  • A total of 5 stop-work orders for combustible dust were imposed during Phase 4, but these accumulations were localized, rather than in generalized areas of a facility, and did not have the potential to cause a facility-wide explosion

Results in Phase 4 inspections of other wood manufacturers under WorkSafeBC’s Combustible Dust Initiative

  • Other wood manufacturers (pressed board manufacturing, pellet mills, and oriented strand board manufacturing), which tend to be much smaller operations, had a much lower compliance rate of 40%.
  • In total, there were 4 stop-work orders issued to this group of manufacturers, 3 penalties have been imposed to this group and 4 penalties are pending.
  • WorkSafeBC hasn’t waited for the Action Plan report – they have already been taking action. They are working with mills and as necessary penalizing them to support compliance. Follow up inspections are already planned and will be made regularly.
  • Recommendations in the WorkSafeBC review and Action Plan will help ensure compliance increases moving forward.
 
Media Contact:
 
Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
250 387-2799
 

 
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