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March 2012

Honesty is the best policy.

~Author Unknown

In This Issue

Latest effectiveness measures report

Compensation & assessment policy projects

You can find current and past editions of Insight here.

Groundhog Day winner

Congratulations to Joanne Osachoff, Field Operations Assistant with FortisBC and Secretary of their Interior South Joint Health and Safety Committee. Joanne was the winner of our February Groundhog Day competition and receives a new golf shirt. To see the potential occupational hazards and mitigation strategies for television meteorologists that Joanne identified, click here.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition. Your answers were thoughtful, informative, and sometimes amusing. We're unaware if a meteorologist has ever been bitten by a grumpy groundhog….

Effectiveness Measures Report


Twice yearly - usually in the second and fourth quarters - WorkSafeBC publishes an Effectiveness Measures Report, which summarizes key indicators of the effectiveness of policy and regulation changes. The report for the fourth quarter of 2011 was presented to the Policy and Practice Consultative Committee in February 2012 and is now available on the WorkSafeBC website.

For example, you'll notice a reduction in injuries to new and young workers since changes were made to Part 3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) in January 2007. Section 3.23 of the OHSR requires employers to provide all young or new workers with orientation and training about safe work procedures and how to recognize hazards on the job. From 2008 to 2009 there was a 28% decrease in injuries to young workers, and from 2009 to 2010 the injury rate decreased by 12% for young males and by 8% for young female workers.

Are you interested in more details about how we measure effectiveness? We published a story on this topic in the May 2011 edition of Insight that provides more information about how measures of effectiveness are selected, and how this measurement process came to be. You can access all our past issues online.

Compensation & assessment policy projects

Did you know?

Here's a short lesson for those who don't speak legal-ese. A "consequential amendment" is a "subsequent amendment to the text of a motion or bill made necessary for coherence following the adoption of an amendment."

~Glossary of Parliamentary Procedure

It has been a busy start to 2012 and the Policy and Regulation Division (PRD) has been working on potential changes to the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, Volume II (RS&CM) and the Assessment Manual in the following areas:

 RS&CM projects

Bill 16, the Family Law Act

  • The Government of British Columbia's Bill 16 received Royal Assent on November 24, 2011 and made two types of consequential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act (the "Act").
  • The first set of amendments resulted in policy changes which were housekeeping in nature, and came into effect in December 2011.
  • The second set of amendments introduce a definition of spouse into section 1 of the Act, and also amend the cohabitation period for common law spouses to qualify for compensation benefits from the current 3 years, to 2 years. These amendments came into force on March 1, 2012. The PRD will seek approval of draft policies reflecting the legislative amendments from the Board of Directors at their March meeting.


  • Tinnitus is a subjectively perceived noise in the ears such as ringing, blowing, roaring, or buzzing. Scientific evidence indicates that tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition, and is not an injury or disease in and of itself. Policy on tinnitus is found in policy item #31.00, Hearing Loss, and provides that tinnitus may be accepted where it is associated with a permanent degree of hearing loss.
  • Policy development has been underway to address two key issues regarding tinnitus: when should permanent disability awards be available; and how should loss of function from tinnitus be rated?
  • A discussion paper and options for policy change were released for stakeholder comment in 2011. The feedback received from stakeholders, together with policy options to address the above-noted issues, will be presented to the Board of Directors in March for decision.
 Assessment Manual projects

Employer Classification Policies

  • The PRD is conducting a review of the classification policies in the Assessment Manual. The classification policies guide the assignment of a firm to a classification unit. Each classification unit represents an industry in which a firm operates, and determines the base rate at which the firm pays premiums for activities in that industry.
  • Since the current classification system was adopted back in 2000, individual policies have been revised, resulting in a lack of consistency in the terms used to describe a firm's business operations for the purposes of classification. The PRD's policy review concerns whether descriptions of key terms should be added, and whether the policies should be reorganized for greater clarity.
  • At the March Board of Directors meeting, the PRD will seek approval to consult with stakeholders on the classification policies in the Assessment Manual.

Minor Policy Clarifications

  • Four minor policy issues were identified for clarification - affecting policies on exemptions, voluntary coverage, and the registration of employers. Policy changes in these areas would not affect the substantive content of the policies but would reduce confusion and clarify the intent of the policies for both decision-makers at WorkSafeBC and stakeholders.
  • On February 24, the PRD consulted with the Policy and Practice Consultative Committee (PPCC) on proposed amendments to the Assessment Manual. The PPCC supported the proposed amendments.
  • The feedback from the PPCC, together with the proposed policy amendments, will be presented to the Board of Directors in March for their decision.

The Board of Directors' decisions will be available on the WorkSafeBC website after their March meeting.

About Us

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Tel: 604.276.5160


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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.