OHS Canada Magazine

WorkSafeBC seeks feedback on regulatory changes around emergency planning, towers cranes and washroom facilities

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December 21, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Cranes Washrooms WorkSafeBC

Construction crane on sunset. Photo: Adobe Stock

WorkSafeBC is holding a virtual public hearing on proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulation.

The hearing will cover proposed changes to the following parts of the regulation:

  • Part 5 – emergency planning
  • Part 14 – notice of project – tower crane
  • Part 20 – washroom facilities on construction sites.

The virtual public hearing will be streamed live on Jan. 10, 2024, in two sessions. The first will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second from 3 to 5 p.m.

More information on the hearing is available here.

Summary of changes

Part 5 – emergency planning

Key changes include:

  • Amendments in wording to clarify responsibilities and ensure consistency across sections.
  • Enhanced requirements for maintaining an up-to-date inventory of hazardous substances and ensuring it includes detailed information about each substance.
  • Clarifications in the risk assessment process, including considerations for hazardous substances that might enter a workplace due to an emergency.
  • Introduction of requirements for emergency plans to minimize risks involving hazardous substances, including detailed components like assigned roles, responsibilities, and training programs.
  • Specific instructions on developing and updating emergency procedures, covering aspects like notification, evacuation, and protective measures.
  • Expanded scope of notification procedures beyond adjacent workplaces and residences to include any area outside the workplace where there might be a risk.
  • Requirements for written safe work procedures and ensuring they are readily available and applicable to all tasks involving hazardous substances.
  • Detailed guidelines for training and conducting emergency drills, including the frequency of these drills and the types of records to be maintained.

Part 14 – tower cranes

Key changes include:

Definition and scope changes:

  • A definition for “repositioning” was added to specify it means repositioning the mast of a tower crane.
  • The Notice of Project (NOP) requirements were shifted from proposed section 14.74.1 to section 14.73.3 for better clarity.
  • Amendments to the language in various sections were made to recognize that a crane crew may have more than one supervisor qualified for specific crane activities.

Notice of Project (NOP) requirements:

  • The NOP now requires details like the year of manufacture of the tower crane, if available, to aid in assessing specific issues related to the crane’s age.
  • An exemption to the two-week advance notice requirement was added for emergency situations where a crane might be needed immediately to protect lives and property.

Work procedures and supervisor qualifications:

  • Amendments require that work procedures and supervisor qualifications be kept up-to-date and readily available at the workplace.
  • The amendments recognize the possibility of multiple qualified supervisors for the same crane types, aiming to streamline the NOP process.

Safety measures and preparations:

  • There are detailed requirements for the certification of the tower crane’s foundation and support by a professional engineer.
  • Before a tower crane is put into service, the qualified supervisor must ensure that it has been erected, climbed, or repositioned according to specifications and that the overload prevention system is adjusted as necessary.

Consequential amendments:

  • Several sections were updated to include terms like “climbing” and “repositioning” and to ensure consistency in language across the regulation.

Part 20 – Washroom facilities on construction sites

Definitions and requirements:

  • New definitions are introduced for “construction site” and types of washroom facilities – “plumbed” and “non-plumbed”.
  • A “construction site” is defined as a worksite with a construction project where at least 25 workers are regularly present.
  • “Plumbed washroom facility” refers to a flush toilet connected to a sanitary sewer system, while “non-plumbed” refers to a facility with a flush toilet not connected to such a system.

Provision of washroom facilities:

  • Employers are required to provide a sufficient number of plumbed washroom facilities at construction sites. If impractical, non-plumbed facilities must be provided, or another type of washroom facility if neither is practicable.
  • These facilities must be maintained in proper working order, cleaned and sanitized regularly, and include means for hand washing along with necessary supplies.

Record keeping and compliance:

  • Employers are mandated to maintain records of maintenance, cleaning, and sanitizing of the washroom facilities.
  • Consequential amendments have been made to section 4.85 of the OHSR to align with these new definitions and requirements.

Background and rationale:

  • This amendment was proposed in response to the Ministry of Labour’s request to WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors, aiming to ensure adequate facilities for workers in the construction industry, following reports of inadequate sanitary and hygiene conditions.

Implementation and guidelines:

  • The proposed regulation, if enacted, will be effective from May 1, 2024, with guidelines developed to assist compliance.


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