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B.C. Place ordered to take actions on violence against staff

Vancouver stadium must comply with outstanding orders by Dec. 28


(Canadian OH&S News) — A recent WorkSafeBC inspection of B.C. Place — the Vancouver stadium that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and Expo 86, and also the home venue for Canadian Football League team The B.C. Lions — has yielded orders for the venue to comply with anti-violence workplace regulations by Dec. 28.

Following a Nov. 20 inspection of the stadium, the British Columbia workers’ compensation authority issued a report noting three outstanding compliance orders. WorkSafeBC accused B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), the Crown corporation that owns the venue, of failing to establish anti-violence policies and procedures, to inform employees of the risk of violence at the venue and to prepare sufficient supplementary instructions for employees at risk, according to a copy of the report that WorkSafeBC has provided to COHSN.

“There have been instances of violence at this worksite. Some of these incidents have resulted in workers requiring medical treatment,” the report stated. “A consultant was hired to review violence at this worksite… The results of this review have not been communicated to workers.”

Duncan Blomfield, PavCo’s manager of marketing and communications, said that the company had an internal meeting scheduled for Dec. 16, on which date management is expected to communicate to B.C. Place staff the results of a risk assessment from earlier this year.

“Management contracted an independent specialist to conduct a rigorous assessment of the potential risks of violence at the stadium,” explained Blomfield. “The report confirms that staff exposure to violence has been low.”

Blomfield added that the employer had already been training staff on how to deal with potential violence on the job.

“Staff training at B.C. Place begins with a full orientation, including training on workplace safety specific to the busy stadium environment,” he said. “B.C. Place invests in additional staff training throughout the year, focusing on the various aspects of crowd management, fan behaviour, alcohol management and defence-tactics training. All event staff are trained to manage fan-behaviour issues.

“Security staff are specifically trained in de-escalation and self-defence techniques and are licenced by the Justice Institute of B.C.”

But Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), told COHSN that the stadium’s violence problem had been going on for several years. Recommendations from a previous WorkSafeBC inspection report in 2011 had gone unheeded, she claimed.

“PavCo had promised to put a violence-prevention strategy in place for December of 2012, but it hasn’t happened yet,” said Smith.

“Any working environment is supposed to be a safe one, and when you work in an environment where there are large numbers of the public, they’re attending sporting events, people feel very strongly about their teams; emotions can run really high. And so in those kinds of situations, staff need to be able to have a violence-prevention program, they need to have training on de-escalation, all those kinds of things. And none of that’s actually happened.”

Blomfield said that PavCo had conducted three violence risk-assessment reports for B.C. Place since 2009. “So it’s not like nothing has been done,” he said. “We’ve taken significant steps for workplace procedures and trainings for staff.”

Smith was not entirely convinced. “What we’d really like to see from PavCo,” she said, “is that they develop a violence-prevention program that includes regular risk assessments, work with our members on the occupational health and safety committee, provide training for staff and make sure that it is a safe environment for our members, but also for the public.”

BCGEU is sending its occupational health and safety officer to PavCo’s Dec. 16 staff meeting to get input about the report and the employer’s response, she added.

“B.C. Place takes any matters of violence very seriously,” said Blomfield. “B.C. Place trains and develops staff to some of the highest industry standards in North America and has an exceptional record of attracting, growing and supporting staff, with more than 60 team members achieving more than 20 years of service with the stadium.

“We look forward to the joint occupational health and safety committee’s feedback on the report and are fully committed to implementing the committee’s recommendations.”

B.C. Place was the world’s largest indoor stadium with an air-supported roof when it first opened in June 1983. It also hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer team and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and it served as the main venue for the 2010 Winter Paralympics.