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February 2012

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

~Maori proverb

In This Issue

OHS Regulation changes

Joint health and safety committees

You can now find current and past editions of Insight here.

When will this winter weather end?

Today is Groundhog Day - the day we'll discover if the winter weather will leave us soon or whether it's here to stay a while longer. According to folklore, if the groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2 and sees its shadow, it will retreat and hide for another 6 weeks - indicating another 6 weeks of winter. But if it's cloudy and the groundhog is unable to see its shadow, it will stay outside and the winter weather will soon go away. That groundhog has one important occupation!

Groundhog Day competition

In the movie Groundhog Day (1993), Bill Murray portrays a TV weatherman (meteorologist) covering the Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Send us three potential occupational hazards of TV meteorologists as well as a suggestion to minimize each risk. We will select a winner from the responses to win a prize. Make sure you answer both parts of the question: three risks and at least one mitigation strategy for each! Email responses to

Are you aware of the latest OHS Regulation changes?

The deadline for providing feedback on the proposed policy changes to Chapter 10 of the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, Volume II, regarding the provision of health care to injured workers, has been extended to February 10, 2012. Visit our website for a discussion paper and to submit comments.

If not, click here to view the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) that went into effect on February 1, 2012.

Some of the amendments are related to:

  • asbestos
  • confined spaces
  • mobile chippers
  • wire rope splices
  • retrieving traffic cones
  • concrete pumps
  • agricultural tractors

How did these changes come about?

The changes were presented for feedback at public hearings in May/June 2011, and then approved by the Board of Directors (BOD) in October 2011. Once approved, an announcement of the changes was sent out via WorkSafeBC E-news and posted on the website.

Amendments to Part 4 of the OHSR, relating to a third option to protect workers assigned to work alone in late night retail premises, were approved by the BOD in December 2011 and go into effect on April 15, 2012.

Joint Heath and Safety Committees

For more information and suggestions about how to create an effective JHSC, check out the following documents on our website:

"As JHSC co-chairs, Alan and I work very hard to bring a ‘team approach' to our respective membership. We have had a very busy year with significant achievements on numerous issues, including improved analysis of the incidents reported to the Safety, Health & Wellness department, and training and development opportunities for committee members. Our highest goal and priority is the health and safety of our ‘constituency' - that is, all the men and women who work here at WorkSafeBC in Richmond. The support from the Safety, Health & Wellness department is also something very much appreciated by our committee."

Karen Wheeler, co-chair, WorkSafeBC Richmond JHSC

Did you know that the Workers Compensation Act (the Act) requires that a joint health and safety committee (JHSC) be established in each workplace where 20 or more workers of the employer are regularly employed? In workplaces with more than 9 but fewer than 20 workers, a worker health and safety representative (HSR) is required.

Alan Brose and Karen Wheeler are the co-chairs of the JHSC at WorkSafeBC's Richmond location. Brose shares his views about value of serving on a JHSC:

"The JHSC represents an opportunity for worker and employer representatives to work together to promote a healthy and safe workplace for everyone. An effective committee proactively observes and discusses the elements of the occupational health and safety program, points out areas that require attention, and makes constructive recommendations to improve health and safety."

The results of our recent Insight survey suggest that approximately 28% of our readers take an active role as a JHSC member or HSR in their organizations.

Here at WorkSafeBC, we have multiple JHSCs: a corporate JHSC for the organization as a whole, as well as one for each of our regional locations. Brose continues, "The Richmond Complex joint committee has met monthly for many years. I'm very proud of our ability to work cooperatively to identify health and safety issues and wrestle them to the ground. Whether it's participating in inspections, investigations, and risk assessments, or studying workplace safety concerns brought forward by staff, our committee members are committed to doing the best we can to make sure we all go home safely at the end of each day."

Among others, the functions and duties of the JHSC include:

  • Identifying situations that may be unhealthy or unsafe for workers and advising on systems for responding to those situations
  • Addressing complaints relating to health and safety
  • Making recommendations to the employer and workers to improve occupational health and safety, and the work environment
  • Making recommendations to the employer on educational programs promoting the health and safety of workers
  • Ensuring that accident investigations and regular inspections are carried out as required by the Act and the OHSR

To the extent practicable, the HSR has the same duties and functions as the JHSC. The specific requirements and roles of JHSCs and HSRs are provided in Part 3, Division 4 of the Act.

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- Regulation and Policy

The Policy and Regulation Division (PRD) at WorkSafeBC is responsible for providing advice and services to the Board of Directors, Senior Executive Committee, other divisions, the Ministry of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government, external stakeholders, and the general public.

The PRD is made up of two operating departments:

  • Compensation and Assessment Policy
  • OHS Regulation and Policy

These departments have staff with expertise in public policy and research, with varying backgrounds, including law, business, occupational hygiene, science and engineering.

The PRD provides independent and objective advice on policy and regulation options that reflect WorkSafeBC's strategic priorities, as well as those of external stakeholders, and the general public.