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The Workers Compensation Act (WCA) describes the jurisdiction of the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia (WorkSafeBC) and its authority to make regulations, inspect workplaces, issue orders and impose penalties. The WCA also explains the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers with respect to health and safety.
The WCA is organized in four Parts:
A number of provisions in Part 1 and all of Part 3 apply to occupational health and safety. Some sections in Part 4 apply to appeals and health and safety decisions.
Some key sections of the WCA are provided in this document:
The official, printed version of the WCA can be obtained from Crown Publications:
106 Ontario Street
Victoria, BC V8V 1M9
Tel: (250) 386-4636
TOLL FREE 1-877-747-4636
Fax: (250) 386-0221
An unofficial version of the complete Workers Compensation Act is available online.
The federal Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and the pursuant Controlled Products Regulation, which apply to suppliers, define which materials (i.e., controlled products) are included in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and what information suppliers must provide to employers for controlled products used in the workplace.
WorkSafeBC administers requirements under the HPA in British Columbia under section 114 of the Workers Compensation Act , and WorkSafeBC officers enforce federal requirements on suppliers under the HPA.
About the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation
The OHS Regulation contains legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the inspectional jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. This includes most workplaces in B.C., except mines and federally chartered workplaces such as banks, interprovincial and international transportation, telephone systems, and radio, television, and cable services.
The purpose of the OHS Regulation is to promote occupational health and safety and to protect workers and other persons present at workplaces from work-related risks to their health, safety, and well-being. Compliance with the requirements provides the basis on which workers and employers, in cooperation, can solve workplace health and safety problems. The requirements are not an end in themselves, but are a foundation upon which to build an effective health and safety program.
WorkSafeBC is committed to the regular review of the requirements of the OHS Regulation based on regulatory experience and changes in knowledge, technology, and work practices. All interested parties are invited to forward suggestions for improvement to WorkSafeBC .
Note: The requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation are adopted under the authority of the Workers Compensation Act as amended from time to time.
Many parts of the OHS Regulation have associated guidelines, which are used to help interpret and apply the OHS Regulation. Other policies and practices of WorkSafeBC are set out in the Prevention Manual.
How the Regulation is organized
This section provides brief information about the 32 Parts of the OHS Regulation.
Parts 1-4: Core Requirements
The Core Requirements apply to all workplaces, and include:
Part 1: Definitions -- A list of words used in the OHS Regulation that have specific meanings.
Part 2: Application -- A description of how the OHS Regulation is applied.
Part 3: Rights and Responsibilities -- Details about elements of a health and safety program, investigations and reports, workplace inspections, the right to refuse work and first aid.
Part 4: General Conditions -- Requirements for such aspects of workplace safety as building and equipment safety, emergency preparedness, preventing violence, working alone, ergonomics, illumination, indoor air quality, smoking, and lunchrooms.
Parts 5-19: General Hazard Requirements
Parts 5-19 deal with general hazards found in a number of workplaces, usually higher-hazard operations. Topics include the safe use of chemicals, confined space entry procedures, guarding of machinery and the use of mobile equipment. In many workplaces, including office environments, only a small portion of these requirements may apply.
Parts 20-32: Industry/Activity Specific Requirements
Parts 20-32 deal with requirements that apply to specific industries -- such as forestry, oil and gas, and construction - or to specific hazardous activities -- such as blasting and diving. The last two Parts cover firefighting, and evacuation and rescue.
Application: This Regulation represents minimum requirements. It applies to employers, workers, and all persons working in or contributing to workplaces within the inspection jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC and within the scope of the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) of British Columbia.
Review and acceptance policy: WorkSafeBC will review a submission with respect to any product, machinery, equipment, or work process from an employer, worker, union, or industry in general. WorkSafeBC will indicate acceptability or unacceptability under the WCA and the OHS Regulation. The review of submissions to WorkSafeBC will be limited to an assessment of those factors that affect the health and safety of workers.
An acceptance will be conditional upon the use of the product, machinery, or equipment for its designed purpose, subject to such conditions as may be specified by WorkSafeBC. An indication of compliance with current requirements will not be an assurance of continued acceptability. An acceptance does not constitute WorkSafeBC approval and no person may market a product, machine, or service as being WorkSafeBC approved.
Medical and engineering certification: WorkSafeBC reserves the right to treat as unacceptable a medical certificate or an engineering certificate, approval, or design that does not comply with the WCA or this OHS Regulation, or with orders or directions of WorkSafeBC.
Number and gender: The singular number, whenever used in the OHS Regulation, also means and includes the plural number and vice versa, unless the context otherwise requires. Any reference to one gender means and includes all persons.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation is the outcome of an open, comprehensive, consultative process that directly involved representatives of the employer and worker communities in the development and refinement of the Regulation.
WorkSafeBC sincerely appreciates the valuable work and generous contribution of time and knowledge of the approximately 200 representatives of the worker and employer communities who participated on committees in the review process. Sincere thanks go also to the many WorkSafeBC staff whose technical and administrative expertise was essential to the process. In addition, the OHS Regulation has benefited from the contributions of representatives of suppliers, owners, professional organizations, government agencies, and the public interest.
WorkSafeBC further wishes to recognize and thank the many people and organizations who contributed to the format and content of the final documents through submissions to public hearings.
About the Prevention Manual (Policies)
The Prevention Manual contains policies of WorkSafeBC with respect to prevention matters under the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
In 1999, the Workers Compensation (Occupational Health and Safety) Amendment Act, 1998 replaced the existing occupational health and safety provisions of the WCA with a new Part 3--Occupational Health and Safety. It also repealed the Workplace Act.
The Prevention Manual was first developed to set out WorkSafeBC policies under Part 3. The Panel of Administrators subsequently decided that all occupational health and safety policies would be consolidated into this manual. That process was completed in 2004.
Effective December 31, 2003, other occupational health and safety policies found in the Policy and Procedure Manual are no longer WorkSafeBC policy. They are applicable only to historical matters that were conducted prior to this date.
On this web site, there are links within Parts of the OHS Regulation and WCA to the associated policies in the Prevention Manual.
The Prevention Manual is also provided in Adobe Acrobat portable document format (PDF 1.8 MB).
About the Guidelines
Many sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act (WCA) have associated guidelines. Guidelines are intended to assist with providing ways of complying with the legislation, not to provide exclusive interpretations. Guidelines generally provide information on administrative matters and on technical matters not already addressed by policy or regulation.
Periodically, guidelines are updated and new ones added. There are links within Parts of the OHS Regulation and the WCA to the associated guidelines. If you want more information on how the guidelines are numbered, read "About the OHS Guideline Numbering" [PDF 14 KB].
More background information on policies and guidelines, and on the hierarchy of authority among the WCA, OHS Regulation, policies, and guidelines, is available in "About Prevention Policy and the OHS Guidelines" [PDF 15 KB].