RICHMOND, B.C. – Employers in British Columbia have been warned they need to develop plans to keep their workers safe from avalanches.
WorkSafeBC, the provincial occupational health and safety authority, tells employers in a news release that workers in the backcountry, including self-employed workers, face a potential risk of serious injury in what is an active avalanche season.
WorkSafe’s regulations require all employers to ensure safe workplaces by reducing exposure to avalanche risks, and developing an appropriate safety plan if there’s the chance of a slide.
Patrick Davie, WorkSafeBC manager of prevention field services, says employees in the oil and gas, forestry, pipeline construction, highway maintenance and mining industries are at the greatest risk.
Worksafe says it expects employers with operations within avalanche terrain to increase their awareness of the risks, step up prevention efforts and collaborate with WorkSafe to ensure compliance with guidelines and regulations.
Davie says B.C. is full of rugged terrain and working in it without proper precautions can be deadly.
“Employers in these situations are required under the occupational health and safety regulation to ensure a well-rehearsed safety plan is in place and well understood by all workers,” Davie says.
Since 1998 in B.C., avalanches have caused the deaths of three workers and 52 time-loss injury claims, including two injury claims in 2017, the release says.
“While ski hills and winter lodges have also seen avalanche related injuries, primary-resource industries see the next highest amount,” it says.