Good news doesn’t always travel fast… at least not fast enough for the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA). That’s why the organization has been working to promote the services of its six Regional Safety Advisors (RSAs) who will assist contractors at no cost to develop a company occupational health and safety manual, among other services.
“It’s a challenge for us to get the message out to more than 40,000 construction companies located across the province,” says Urvi Ramsoondar, Director, Health & Safety Services with BCCSA. “The majority of those companies are small businesses who may have limited subject matter expertise in occupational health and safety and limited resources. However, they’re not aware that they can access that expertise at no cost to them through our RSAs. In some cases, they’re introduced to the service by a WorkSafeBC officer to work on a specific issue.”
The health and safety services are available to all construction sector 72 employers, and select aggregate and ready-mixed employers. The association’s RSAs are located in offices in the Lower Mainland, Northern BC, Southern Interior, and Vancouver Island. They offer extensive knowledge of and experience in construction industry health and safety and will offer help with a number of issues, ranging from answering safety questions, advising on WorkSafeBC regulations, complying with a safety order, developing safety materials (including a health and safety manual), or preparing for a Certificate of Recognition (COR™).
“Any health and safety challenge is on the table, but it begins with knowing who to call,” says Ramsoondar. “Typically, contractors contact the RSA representing their region through the BCCSA website, either by phone or email. RSAs most often respond in kind by phone or email, although they’ll also meet face-to-face where it makes sense.”
Contractors often contact their RSAs specifically to develop a health and safety manual, or to prepare them to complete their COR™. They’re sometimes prompted by bid requirements that require the company to possess a manual or demonstrate COR™ readiness. However, there are other practical reasons to work with an RSA to prepare for COR™.
“The companies are often motivated by one or more benefits,” says Vernita Hsu, Director, COR™ & Injury Management. “Employers who achieve COR™ certification are eligible for an annual incentive rebate cheque of 10 per cent from WorkSafeBC, based on their ability to satisfy the annual auditing requirements.”
Smaller companies may be less motivated by the rebate cheque if their overall payments to the workplace insurance system are low to begin with. However, Hsu notes that COR™ certification has increasingly become part of the pre-qualifications required to bid on construction projects.
“We’ve already seen the likes of BC Hydro implementing a requirement that all of their large contractors demonstrate COR™ certification, and they’re now contemplating that same requirement for smaller contractors,” says Hsu.
Empirical evidence indicates that those companies who meet the employer safety standards set out by COR™ should also see a reduction in injuries over time.
Art Reynolds, RSA for Northern BC, is one of the first advisors to use the BCCSA-developed COR™ ready template manual to create a health and safety manual.
“A small mechanical contractor with five employees in Prince Rupert wanted to bid on a contract requiring them to have a company occupational health and safety manual,” says Reynolds. “They received the template from the Mechanical Contractors Association of British Columbia but they were finding it challenging to use the template to create a finished company-specific manual.”
Reynolds was first contacted in late November 2018 and quickly began collaborating with the company’s owner and administrator to work through the template.
“The majority of the time was spent on developing safe work practices and safe work procedures for the company,” says Reynolds. “We also completed a company-wide hazard assessment and a site-specific hazard assessment required for the upcoming project.”
He estimates that the entire process took about 100 person-hours to complete, including 35 hours of his time. While the company did not immediately seek to complete COR™ certification, the tangible benefits were immediate.
“By December, we had developed a company-specific health and safety manual in time for the company to meet the pre-qualifications required for their bid,” says Reynolds. “And it was completed with no additional cost to the company. That’s quite an achievement.”
This content is sponsored by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit www.bccsa.ca.