Legislative roundup: Changes in OHS laws and regulations from West to East

Railway cars carrying ­dangerous goods may be faulty • B.C. reviews exposure limits, announces changes • WorkSafeBC announces preliminary employer rates • Alberta updates booklets, bulletins and manuals


Railway cars carrying ­dangerous goods may be faulty

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has indicated that tens of thousands of railway cars transporting dangerous goods may be faulty. In its report into a 2009 accident in Manitoba, the TSB says the lack of formal protocols to record a certain defect may prevent other broken parts from being found. The investigation stated that this could affect approximately 35,000 rail cars that currently transport dangerous goods in Canada.


B.C. reviews exposure limits, announces changes

WorkSafeBC, British Columbia’s workers’ compensation board, has reviewed the occupational exposure limits (OELs) for 2008 and 2009 and announced a number of revisions. B.C. relies on guidelines published annually by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) to determine new or revised threshold limit values (TLVs). Prior to 2010, the province automatically adopted the guidelines. But WorkSafeBC’s board of directors recently approved a new review and adoption procedure that allowed it to consult with stakeholders to identify any problem areas prior to the adoption of new or revised ACGIH TLVs. On Aug. 31, the board announced that the 2008 and 2009 adopted OELs for substances are retained for aluminum metal and insoluble compounds, benomyl, ethanol, ferbam, rubber solvent and VM&P naptha. For the other substances, the results of the stakeholder consultation and the internal review have identified there are no validated air sampling methods or sampling devices to measure at the new or revised TLVs. For sulfur dioxide, there are sampling issues as well as practicability of implementation issues. After considering these issues, the board decided to reinstate the former exposure limits that were in place prior to the revision by ACGIH until the implementation issues can be resolved for these substances. (For more information, go to www.safety-reporter.com, click on “Advanced Search” and enter article # 8171.)

WorkSafeBC announces preliminary employer rates

While the 2011 rates will not be finalized for a few more weeks, WorkSafeBC projects the average published base rate will drop by one per cent to $1.54 in 2011 from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 rate of $1.56 per $100 of employers’ assessable payroll. The average published base rate is a composite of rates in 65 individual rate groups or insurance pools, which are compilations of various classification units. While the rate is expected to drop two cents, the premiums for 56 per cent of employers are expected to increase, according to WorkSafeBC. This can be explained by the impact of the 2009 recession and the change in the “mix” of the province’s payroll — higher risk payrolls decreased at a faster pace than the average. In recognition of the financial stress imposed on the employers by the economic downturn in 2009, as a one-time measure WorkSafeBC limited all base rate increases in 2010 to a maximum of eight per cent. It is proposed that the normal rate change capping of plus or minus 20 per cent be reinstated in the preliminary rates for 2011. Of the employers witnessing a base rate increase in 2011, 56,500 employers had their base rate increase limited to eight per cent in 2010.


Alberta unveils online ­workplace safety records

In August, the Alberta government announced a 10-point plan to improve workplace safety. One of the key changes was the province’s announcement it would be posting the safety records of all employers online. Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration, has unveiled what information will be accessible online and how it will look. Information for each employer will include:

•number of lost-time claims
•estimated number of employees
•lost-time claim rate
•number of fatalities
•whether the employer holds a Certificate of Recognition (COR)
•industry and province wide lost-time claim rates for comparison.
See www.employment.alberta.ca/employerrecords for a sample of what the records will look like.

Alberta updates booklets, bulletins and manuals

Alberta has recently updated a variety of workplace health and safety bulletins. Updated titles include information on back belts, lifting and handling loads, preventing back pain, myths about back pain.   For a complete list see http://employment.alberta.ca/SFW/136.html.

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