ISSUE 2010-01 September 17, 2010

In This Issue

WorkSafeBC Manager of Interest — Public Education


Preliminary Rates 2011-2012

Preliminary Rates 2011-2012


Violent Incidents

WCAT Decision


Quick Links

Refusal of Unsafe Work Flow Chart

Copies of all the WorkSafeBC forms can be found here



If you have questions about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any health, safety or wellness issue, please contact Sue Ferguson at 604.730.4502 or suef@bcpsea.bc.ca

SafeBC Manager of Interest —
Public Education

WorkSafeBC has assigned a Manager of Interest to oversee OH&S issues in public education. Mark Peebles is a prevention manager in WorkSafeBC’s Richmond office. He has some experience dealing with issues in the public school sector.

A preliminary meeting was held on June 22 with Mark Peebles (WorkSafeBC) and representatives from BCTF, CUPE, and BCPSEA to discuss the new WorkSafe BC position.

The group arrived at the following consensus:

  • Regular meetings will be scheduled approximately every two months.
  • WorkSafeBC will provide current statistics on injury claims and prevention orders.
  • Top 3 priorities for BCTF and CUPE:
    - Violence in the workplace
    - Asbestos
    - Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees.

Preliminary Rates 2011-2012

WorkSafeBC announced 2011 preliminary rates in July. The projection is that the average published base rate will drop by 1% to $1.54 in 2011 from the 2010 rate of $1.56 per $100 of employers’ assessable payroll. Despite this drop, the premiums of 56% of employers are expected to rise.

The key rate drivers for 2011 are:

  • A “payroll shift” reduction in the relative size of high risk industries in 2009 (mainly reductions in the construction and forestry sectors)
  • Marginal increases in the injury rate from 2004 to 2006, followed by small decreases in 2007 and 2008 and a significant decrease (20%) in 2009, in part due to the decline in the size of high risk industries
  • Claim cost rate used in 2011 rates has decreased 3.3% from the claim cost rate used for setting the 2010 rates
  • Change in WorkSafeBC financial position from a $610 million surplus in 2008 to a $758 million surplus in 2009 to a projected $637 million at the end of 2010

Public school district rates will rise by 6.2% to $0.69 from $0.65 per $100 of assessable payroll for 2011. This is, in part, due to a one-time measure limiting all base rate increases in 2010 to a maximum of 8%. It is proposed that the normal rate change capping of +/- 20% be reinstated in the preliminary rates for 2011.

More detailed information is available on the WorkSafe BC website.


Flu season starts again in October 2010. Current reports indicate that a significant portion of the population still needs to be vaccinated against H1N1 and there may be a resurgence of the virus.

Significance to Districts

  • Ensure exposure containment plans are in place and have been communicated to all staff
  • Consider inviting community health nurses to provide accurate information to staff members.

For more information on H1N1, please see BCPSEA Health Safety Wellness Issues No. 2009-10 dated October 23, 2009; and No. 2009-11 dated November 18, 2009.

Violent Incidents

A recent BCTF publication stated, "Teachers need to understand that they are workers in a work environment, just as those who work in construction, sawmills, offices and hospitals are workers. This means that they have the right to a safe work site and, even though they work with children who are often smaller, they cannot accept being hit, kicked, scratched, spit upon or threatened at work.”

Several media articles have appeared on this subject over the past year. Parents observed that confidentiality issues during and after the incident investigation process can be seen as damaging for students who may be identified through information in reports because they're treated as workplace "hazards" and may be ostracized, regardless of whether or not the information is true. 
The statistics from WorkSafeBC indicate more Education Assistants are injured than teachers because they deal with individual students, while the teacher takes responsibility for the overall class. 

Significance to Districts

  • Annually review your violence prevention plan
  • Ensure all employees, including new staff and those working as temporary or on-call, are aware of procedures. This includes district-wide, school-  and student-specific responses, expectations, and procedures.
  • Review behaviour plans and IEPs to consider factors such as changes in student’s size, age, medications, personal life, behaviour triggers, or responses
  • Review and implement staff training needs.

WCAT Decision

The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal released a decision on August 18, 2010 related to mercury poisoning as a result of exposure to mercury as part of the worker’s employment.
The panel found that its task included critically evaluating medical evidence in the manner in which it evaluated all forms of evidence and ascertaining whether the evidence is evenly weighted. It did not find that assessment applied in the manner the workers submitted.
The panel found that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the workers suffered from mercury poisoning. As a result, the terms of subsection 6(3) and Schedule B of the Workers Compensation Act were not met and subsection 6(3) of the Act was inapplicable. The panel’s finding that the workers did not have mercury poisoning meant it did not need to consider subsection 6(1) of the Act. It found that the workers did not have an occupational disease due to the nature of their employment.  
Full text of the decision can be read at:

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