Changes Proposed To Safety Policy Regarding High Risk Violations- WorkSafeBC

October 10, 2014 | News

Upcoming Changes to WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy Regarding High Risk Violations.
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WorkSafeBC is exploring changes to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), which sets out how WorkSafeBC determines whether or not a violation is “high risk”. Typically, “high risk” is regarded as a circumstance that involves a high risk of serious injury, serious illness, or death. WorkSafeBC is soliciting feedback from the public until October 17th, 2014 on these proposed changes.

How does this policy affect the workplace?

Whether or not a violation is determined as high risk affects whether a warning letter or a penalty can be issued if there are no prior violations, the amount of any penalty issued, and whether or not WorkSafeBC may issue a penalty that departs from the standard payroll-based amounts.

What will the new policy look like?

Under the proposed version, the policy identifies six circumstances as “high risk”, and provides criteria for determining whether circumstances beyond the identified high risk circumstances qualify as high risk violations. The six circumstances are as follows:

  1. Work at over 3m (10 feet) without an effective fall protection system.
  2. Entry into an excavation over 1.2 m (4 feet) deep contrary to the requirements of the Regulation.
  3. Entry into a confined space without pre-entry testing and inspection to verify that the required precautions have been effective at controlling the identified hazards.
  4. Causing work disturbing material containing asbestos, or potentially containing asbestos, to be performed without necessary precautions to protect workers.
  5. Hand falling or bucking without necessary precautions to protect persons from the tree that is being felled or bucked, or other affected trees.
  6. Work in the vicinity of potentially combustible dust without the necessary precautions to protect workers.

Beyond these six circumstances, a situation may be classified as “high risk” if it meets the following proposed criteria:

  1. The likelihood of an incident or exposure to a hazardous substance occurring; AND

(This involves considering the number of workers involved, the period of time that workers are exposed to the hazard, the number of times the hazardous activity occurs, etc.)

  1. The likely seriousness of any injury or illness that could result if that incident or exposure occurs.


As part of the updated policy, an OHS Guideline will be developed to assist workers, employers, and WorkSafeBC officers with applying the policy and identifying high risk violations. The OHS Guideline cannot be finalized until WorkSafeBC makes a decision about the proposed policy.