• Hazardous Materials: Your Risks & Regulatory Responsibilities

    16 June 2016
    620 Views

    WHAT IS THE RISK?

    Building materials and products, such as asbestos, lead-based paints, PCBs, halocarbons, mercury etc. can be found in many existing buildings, and especially those constructed before 1990. WorkSafeBC considers these, and other materials to be “hazardous,” and proper steps must be undertaken to ensure unprotected workers and occupants or tenants are not unduly exposed to these health hazards/risks during maintenance, repair, renovation or demolition activities.

    Does your building or workplace contain (or potentially contains) these types of hazardous materials (“HazMats”)? Do you understand the types of risks and consequences that could occur, such as:

    • WorkSafeBC orders, shut down orders
    • Citations and administrative penalties (fines)
    • Financial losses or loss of business
    • Reputational risks
    • Unintended exposures to your workers, occupants or tenants

    Do you understand your regulatory duties to properly identify, through a “Qualified Person,” these materials and know how to manage these risks to minimize your liabilities and maintain your due diligence?

    WHO IS CONSIDERED “QUALIFIED?”

    WorkSafeBC has defined who is a “Qualified Person” regarding the proper assessment and management of HazMats. These professionals are required to have education, training, knowledge and experience in the management and control of HazMats.
    WorkSafeBC is currently focusing several enforcement efforts on “so-called” qualified individuals, and have been administering penalties on those consultants who have not proven that they have a high degree and level of education, training, knowledge or experience in HazMats.

    At OHS Global, we have certified professionals (e.g. AHERA® Certified Building Inspectors) who have a high level of project/work experience in assisting our clients in properly controlling and managing their HazMat risks. We focus on learning and understanding your specific business operations, to be able to effectively identify and assess your risks, the potential impacts on your workers and/or occupants, and to design practical mitigation strategies to manage those risks in a cost-efficient, responsive and professional manner.

    Our services include, but are not limited to:

    • Developing comprehensive, customized HazMat risk management systems and developing required safety documentation.
    • Performing detailed HazMat assessments and surveys to identify these materials at your workplace.
    • Delivering awareness and certification (in low to moderate risk removal) training courses.
    • Performing site inspections and air monitoring during abatement projects etc.

    WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

    Under Part 3, Division 3, Section 119 of the Workers Compensation Act, Owners are required to give to Employers or Contractors who work on their premises critical health and safety information (known to the Owner) that is required to identify and eliminate or control hazards to persons at that workplace.

    This means that Owners are required by the legislation to at least identify those HazMats (through a comprehensive survey) and provide that information (i.e. report, inventory) to anyone work may perform work at their place of business and who may potentially impact those materials.

    Employers responsible for demolition, renovation or salvage of machinery, equipment, a building or a structure must ensure that an appropriately Qualified Person inspects for HazMats that may be associated with those items. If suspect or known materials are found, then the Qualified Person must undertake important actions, including, but not limited to: collecting representative samples, determining if samples are hazardous (or not), identifying material locations, and making a written report detailing all findings.

    NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?

    There are several more key steps that must be undertaken by not just a Qualified Person, but also you, as the responsible Owner or Employer. These actions include, but are not limited to:

    • Ensure written report(s) are made available at the site where the HazMat work is to take place.
    • Safely contain or remove (through highly qualified and trained a Abatement Contractor) those identified HazMats.
    • Ensuring the Qualified Person is re-engaged to conduct further sampling/surveying, if additional HazMats are identified in the course of the removal work.
    • Ensuring that no additional worker performs any tasks that could disturb the HazMats until all materials have been safely contained or removed.

    Once the HazMats have been safely contained or removed, a Qualified Person must confirm, in writing, that those materials have indeed been properly contained or abated. This report must be provided to an assigned WorkSafeBC Officer upon their request.

    NEED ASSISTANCE?

    OHS Global is here to help! We are an industry leader in the provision of professional, quality, timely and practical hazardous materials consulting and training services. We have nearly 50 combined years of experience in assisting thousands of clients from various industry sectors in identifying their HazMat risks, and designing effective strategies and solutions to manage those risks. Contact us for further information about how we can help you meet and overcome your specific HazMat challenges.

    About Craig Yee

    craig
    Craig Yee is an Industrial Hygienist and Principal of OHS Global Risk Solutions. He earned his Masters Degree in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at the University of British Columbia. He has over 12 years of direct experience in the hygiene, health and safety industry in both public and private sectors. You can connect with him on Google+.

     

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  • BILL 9 & BILL 35: What You Need To Know & Are You Ready?

    16 June 2016
    592 Views

    WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

    Key changes have been recently made to the Workers Compensation Act of BC (the “Act”). Both Bill 9 (WCA Amendment Act No. 1) and Bill 35 (WCA Amendment Act No. 2) were respectively passed on May 14, 2015 and November 17, 2015. Primary revisions include, but are not limited to:

    • Expanded stop work order powers
    • Compliance agreements
    • Employer citations

    The primary goals of these legislative changes were to improve workplace health and safety at the same time as strengthening the tools that WorkSafeBC uses to enforce the Act and the Regulations. Why has WorkSafeBC changed the law? Simply put, there are several Employers who fail to comply and the current powers of Officers are not sufficient to encourage compliance.

    Do you understand the legislative changes as it relates to your business? Do you know your regulatory duties and know how to manage your health and safety risks to minimize your liabilities and maintain your due diligence? Are you ready to comply or are compliant?

    WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO STOP WORK ORDERS?

    WorkSafeBC Officers now have expanded stop work order and injunction powers. This an obvious need as while several Employers are “doing the right thing” when its comes to the health and safety of their workers, many more Employers are not fully compliant and simply refuse to be.

    Two major changes have now been implemented. First, an Officer can issue a stop work order if they “believe there is a reasonable grounds to believe there is a high risk of serious injury, serious illness, or death.” Second, and alternatively, a stop work order can be issued if an Employer:

    1. Fails to comply with the Act or Regulations;
    2. Has failed to comply with an order under that provision in the previous year; and
    3. There are reasonable grounds to believe there is a risk of serious injury/illness or death.

    Simply put, an Officer can shut down your business/operations more quickly if you do not take your duties seriously enough, do not comply with previously issued orders, and/or if you are putting your workers at grave (or potentially grave) harm. Stop work orders can be issued if an Employer is not able, or unwilling to, fix the issues that can threaten the safety of their (and other) workers at their workplace.

    Additionally, if implemented control measures are not sufficient to protect workers, a stop work order can be issued. Lastly, the threshold has been changed, from “immediate risk” to “high risk.” It is important to note that a stop work order can only be issued on unsafe work and cannot be extended to shut down work that is being done safely. Furthermore, WorkSafeBC can also now issue stop work orders at other workplaces or parts of other workplaces of the same Employers (called a “stop operations order”).

    WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO COMPLIANCE AGREEMENTS?

    First, let’s go over what a “compliance agreement” is to begin with, if you so choose to engage in one. These agreements are voluntary with WorkSafeBC and are entered into by the Employer to facilitate compliance with the Act and Regulations.

    It is an alternative enforcement tool to compliance orders. If you decide to enter into a compliance agreement, correct violations and report back to WorkSafeBC, then you will be less likely to receive enforcement activity. Items that, in writing, are addressed in a compliance agreement are as follows:

    • The violation(s) that will be addressed by the agreement
    • Corrective actions you agree to undertake
    • How you will report back to WorkSafeBC
    • Action deadlines, report deadlines and the ending date of the agreement

    The agreement must be signed by an Employer representative and submitted to WorkSafeBC at an assigned or agreed to date. There are, of course, “rules of engagement” regarding compliance agreements:

    1. The violation(s) in question must not be considered “high risk” and must not pose a health and safety risk to workers.
    2. The officer must reasonably believe that you will fulfill your health and safety obligations per the agreement.
    3. You must have not violated the Act or Regulations in the last 12 months.
    4. You must not have had a cancelled compliance agreement in the last 3 years.

    How does an Officer decide if you are eligible or have you enter into a compliance agreement? Note that only the Officer can initiate the compliance agreement process. There are several factors that would be considered for a compliance agreement; these include, but may not be limited to:

    • Your compliance history;
    • Overall effectiveness of your approach to worker health and safety;
    • Your willingness to enter into the agreement;
    • Information provided by workers and union representatives;
    • Likelihood of an incident or exposure occurring and the likely seriousness of any injury or illness etc.

    Can a compliance agreement end? The simple answer is yes, an agreement can be ended or cancelled. The main instance is if the Officer believes that worker health and safety is at risk or if the current compliance agreement does not adequately protect workers. However, agreements can be cancelled for other reasons, such as:

    • You do not report to WorkSafeBC within established timeframe(s);
    • You do not undertake correction actions outlined in the agreement;
    • You provide misleading or incorrect information to WorkSafeBC with intent etc.

    WHAT ARE OHS CITATIONS & HOW ARE THEY ISSUED?

    OHS citations are yet another enforcement tool for WorkSafeBC Officer to penalize Employers who choose to not comply with orders or who fail to produce a compliance report that is not deemed “high risk” per the orders. If you, as an Employer, comply with your orders you will not receive an OHS citation. In addition, before issuing the citation, an Officer must give the Employer a written warning. However, if you still fail to comply even after the written warning, future citations will be generally imposed on you as the Employer. The maximum penalty for an OHS citation is $1,000.00, however, a first citation is half that amount ($500.00). The maximum amount can be applied on subsequent violations within 3 years of the first citation.

    An OHS citation can be issued to Employers for any of the following non-compliance violations:

    • Failure to comply with an issued order, per Section 115(1)(b) of the Act;
    • Failure to prepare or send a compliance report to WorkSafeBC or meet other requirements under Sections 194(2), (3) or (4) of the Act;
    • Failure to comply with Section 2.4 (“Prompt Compliance”) of the Regulations.

    If a non-compliance violation has occurred, WorkSafeBC may impose an OHS citation if all of the following requirements are met on a specific inspection cycle:

    • The violation is not related to “high risk” circumstances;
    • You, as the Employer, committed the violation subsequent to receiving a citation warning;
    • OHS penalty or OHS penalty warning letter has not already been imposed for the same violation or underlying violation; and
    • OHS citation for the statutory maximum has not already been imposed.

    NEED ASSISTANCE?

    OHS Global is here to help! We are an industry leader in the provision of professional, quality, timely and practical occupational health, hygiene and safety consulting and training services. We have nearly 50 combined years of experience in assisting hundreds of clients from various industry sectors in navigating and understanding the Act, Regulations, written orders etc., and designing practical, cost-efficient, and effective strategies/solutions to manage those risks.

    Our related services include, but are not limited to:

    • Interpretation of written regulatory orders/reports;
    • Representation of your company to the assigned WorkSafeBC Officer(s);
    • Design of compliance strategies, approaches and plans;
    • Provision of required health, hygiene and safety consulting and training services;
    • Preparation of regulatory required variances etc.

    Contact us for further information about how we can help you meet and overcome your specific compliance risks/challenges.

    About Craig Yee

    craig
    Craig Yee is an Industrial Hygienist and Principal of OHS Global Risk Solutions. He earned his Masters Degree in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at the University of British Columbia. He has over 12 years of direct experience in the hygiene, health and safety industry in both public and private sectors. You can connect with him on Google+.

     

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    Risk Identified. Risk Managed.

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  • Excluded Confined Spaces: The 9 Exclusion Criteria You Need To Know/Confirm

    16 June 2016
    970 Views

    WHAT IS THE RISK?

    Conducting work in confined spaces can be hazardous to your and other workers’ health and safety. However, are all so-called confined spaces actually considered confined under the WorkSafeBC Regulations? With several changes to the Guidelines and WorkSafeBC expectations in the past few years, Employers and Contractors alike are confused as to what makes a space confined (or not).

    Do you have suspect confined spaces at your building or workplace that requires entry and work by individuals? If so, then you and those workers may be exposed to unintended risks and consequences, such as:

    • Allowing persons to work in spaces that are confined, while treating them as excluded, and underestimating potential hazards/risks
    • Overestimating hazards/risks of spaces that can be excluded from Part 9 regulatory requirements
    • WorkSafeBC orders, shut down orders
    • Citations and administrative penalties (fines)
    • Financial loss or loss of business
    • Serious worker injury or illness

    Do you understand your regulatory duties to properly identify your confined spaces, excluded spaces, and assess the hazards/risks of both, through a “Qualified Person,” and do you know how to manage these risks to minimize your liabilities and maintain your due diligence?

    WHAT MAKES A SPACE CONFINED?

    First, it is important to understand and know the criteria, under WorkSafeBC, that defines a space as confined. Per Section 9.1 of the Part 9 Regulations a confined space is an area, other than an underground working that:

    1. a. Is enclosed or partially enclosed;
    2. b. Is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy;
    3. c. Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit that can complicate the provision of first aid, evacuation, rescue or other emergency response services; and
    4. d. Is large enough and so configured that a worker could enter to perform assigned work.

    It is important to note that excluded confined spaces are confined by definition, but may not have certain hazards/ risks associated with them that “traditional” confined spaces do. It is therefore imperative to really understand and know the types of spaces that WorkSafeBC has determined to be not confined, the criteria companies must use to assess the possibility of excluding a space, and when a “Qualified Person” needs to be engaged to assist with this determination.

    Let’s de-mystify excluded confined spaces (typically called “enclosed spaces”) and review the nine exclusion criteria that must be met.

    WHAT SPACES CAN BE EXCLUDED?

    Per Column A in Guideline G9.1-1, WorkSafeBC has indicated the following, select spaces that could be possibly excluded from being confined:

     

    SPACES THAT MAY BE EXCLUDED (FROM PART 9)
    • Swimming pools
    • Crawl spaces (non-industrial)
    • Excavations
    • Attic spaces
    • Open/unconnected storm/sewer manholes
    • Elevator shafts
    • HVAC plenums

    However, there are very specific “exclusion criteria” that all must be met in order to be able to deem a space “not confined.”

    WHAT ARE THESE CRITERIA?

    There a nine specific questions that must be asked by your qualified representatives or a “Qualified Person” (as defined by WorkSafeBC under Section 9.11):

    1. Does the design, construction, location, and use of the space ensure clean, respirable air at all times during the work?
    2. Does the space have an interior volume of greater than 64 cubic feet per person?
    3. Does the space have openings to the atmosphere that can provide natural ventilation?
    4. Does the space contain a moderate or high hazard atmosphere, that could exist or immediately develop prior to any worker entry, or during work inside?
    5. Do you have to mechanically ventilate, clean or purge the space prior to any entry for any reason?
    6. Can a hazardous substance potentially infiltrate the space through any medium (e.g. air, soil, conveyance, piping etc.)?
    7. Is the space free of residual material that, if disturbed, could generate hazardous air contaminants that could acutely affect a worker’s health?
    8. Is there any risk of entrapment or engulfment to workers entering the space?
    9. Are there tools, equipment or processes inside or beside, or be introduced into, the space, that could generate hazardous air contaminants?

    When all the above criteria are met, Employers can make, through proper consultation with a worker, worker health and safety representative, or joint health and safety committee member, a determination that the space is not confined. This decisions must be documented and be available for review by a WorkSafeBC Officer. However, WorkSafeBC does expect that individuals involved in the process have suitable knowledge and expertise in confined space identification and assessment, otherwise a “Qualified Person” must be engaged.

    DO YOU HAVE QUALIFIED PERSONNEL?

    Should your company not have a well educated, trained, knowledgeable and/or experienced “Qualified Person,” then WorkSafeBC expects you to engage one. What is the definition of a Qualified Person under WorkSafeBC? We can look at Section 9.11 of the Regulations which states the following criteria:

    • Adequate training and experience in the recognition, evaluation and control of confined space hazards.
    • Acceptable qualifications, as evidence of adequate training and experience include:
      • Certified Industrial Hygienist, Registered Occupational Hygienist
      • Certified Safety Professional, Canadian Registered Safety Professional
      • Professional engineer
      • Other combination of education, training and experience acceptable to the Board.

    However, it is important to note that WorkSafeBC does expect those who conduct confined space assessments and those with the above qualifications have experience in the recognition, evaluation and control of confined space hazards.

    NEED ASSISTANCE?

    OHS Global is here to help! We are an industry leader in the provision of professional, quality, timely and practical confined space consulting and training services. We have nearly 50 combined years of experience in assisting hundreds of clients from various industry sectors in identifying their confined and excluded space risks, and designing effective strategies and solutions to manage those risks. Our services include, but are not limited to:

      • Confined space identifications, classification of spaces (confined, excluded) and hazard assessments

    Developing compliant, detailed, but easy to use:

      • Confined Space Entry Programs
      • Confined Space Inventories
      • Confined Space Hazard Assessments
      • Confined Space Entry Procedures
      • Confined Space Rescue Procedures
      • Confined Space Forms, Records, Checklists (e.g. Entry Permits, etc.).

    In addition, we offer comprehensive, engaging and dynamic confined space training courses:

    • Confined Space Entry Principles (8 Hours)
    • Standby Person/Air Testing Principles (4 Hours)
    • Confined Space Supervisor (4 Hours)

    Contact us for further information about how we can help you meet and overcome your specific confined space challenges.

    About Craig Yee

    craig
    Craig Yee is an Industrial Hygienist and Principal of OHS Global Risk Solutions. He earned his Masters Degree in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at the University of British Columbia. He has over 12 years of direct experience in the hygiene, health and safety industry in both public and private sectors. You can connect with him on Google+.

     

    OHS Logo

    Risk Identified. Risk Managed.

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  • Inside Your Building – What You Need to Know about Indoor Air Quality

    7 July 2015
    1177 Views

    Owners of buildings, including their representatives such as Property Managers may need to be concerned about quality of the air inside their buildings, which may adversely impact occupant and tenant health, safety and well being, as they can spend a majority of their work day in those environments. A number of factors can affect indoor air quality, such as the influx of fresh air into building and various work spaces, the presence or generation of various contaminants (e.g. carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke etc.), water damage or leaks that can lead to mould growth etc. Since indoor air quality inside a building can affect people’s health, safety and well being in potentially harmful ways, it’s important to identify and understand some of the circumstances that can lead to these risks, and basic solutions that can help manage those risks.

    In this post, we’ll go through a number of things your business needs to know about indoor air quality. (more…)

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  • Using Ladders Safely

    28 June 2015
    1461 Views
    manual-worker-falling from-a-ladder

    Ladder use and safety is generally taken for granted by many individuals, whether at home or at work.  Not many people who use ladders to do something think they will fall. Thoughts such as “I can reach it…” or “I don’t need that long of a ladder to do the job…” are very common in industry.

    However, many injuries (from minor falls to fatalities) have occurred from improper use of ladders, and still occur to this day. Knowing how to safely use a ladders is important to maintain health, safety and well-being at work and at home; ladder accidents are preventable if individuals just simply follow basic safety precautions. (more…)

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  • The Hazards of Working in Confined Spaces

    20 June 2015
    1058 Views

    The dangers lurking in some confined spaces are more often times invisible and undetectable by humans (whether by sight, smell, feel or taste).  And, unfortunately, just because you cannot see, smell, or taste it (it being the chemical hazards), doesn’t mean that the danger does not exist.  Depending on the type of confined space and what it is used for, as well as the specific industry, there could be several “invisible” atmospheric hazards that, if not properly identified, assessed and controlled, could lead to serious injury, illness or even death.

    The unfortunate reality is that many Employers (and by rights, workers) do not fully understand the hazards and risks that are “hidden” in their confined spaces, until actual entry and work needs to be performed in them. Worse, many Employers “assume” that there are no problems, and do not have qualified professionals identify those issues that could harm their workers. (more…)

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  • What Employers Need to Know About WHMIS

    12 June 2015
    1128 Views

    It is the duty of every Employer to follow all WHMIS regulations, at both the Federal and Provincial level. WHMIS regulations apply to all substances that are classified as “controlled products,” and covers various safety requirements such as proper product labelling, identifying hazardous contents in piping systems/vessels, provision of critical safety information via Material Safety Data Sheets (“MSDS”) etc. This blog post touches on the most important aspects of WHMIS that Employers need to know. (more…)

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  • 6 Reasons Industrial Hygiene in Heavy Industry is Important

    7 June 2015
    3044 Views

    Laborer with Fall Protection - San Francisco, California

    Photo via Flickr.

    Workers in heavy industry are exposed to all manner of safety risks, including those associated with chemicals, noise, temperature, radiation and diseases – not to mention hazards emerging from new technologies that are constantly changing.

    With so many factors to take into account – from changing demographics to evolving machinery – workplace hygiene has never been more important. (more…)

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  • Why Implement an Occupational Health and Safety Management System?

    29 May 2015
    1594 Views

    While Occupational Health and Safety Programs are required under select circumstances under the WorkSafeBC (“WSBC”) Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (“OHSR”), for larger Employers an OHS Program is only one component of an overall OHS Management System (“OHSMS”).

    What is an OHSMS? It is a business management system that is designed to manage the many safety elements in the workplace.  An OHSMS is not a separate department or entity within an organization; it is a comprehensive system that is embedded within the very fabric of a company, and is an integral part of each department and operation. (more…)

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  • Top 5 Workplace Health & Safety Myths

    19 May 2015
    2008 Views
    asbestos risk management worksafe

     

    Since many of us spend a great deal of time at work – on average, around 40 hours a week – it’s important that we feel safe and secure in our surroundings.

    Whether you clock in at an office, grocery store or construction site, there’s a good chance you’re surrounded by potential danger zones. Some may be pretty obvious, while others slip under the radar.

    In fact, every year, hundreds of men and women or injured or killed on the job – even those deemed in great physical shape and good health.

    Here are 5 of the top workplace & safety myth to familiarize yourself with so you can work without worry. (more…)

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