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ISSUE 2011-04: November 2011

In This Issue

Workers' Compensation Act Amendment

WorkSafeBC Update

Mental Health in the Workplace

Domestic Violence in the Workplace


Quick Links

Refusal of Unsafe Work Flow Chart



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

Workers' Compensation Amendment Act - Bill 14

The Worker's Compensation Amendment Act was introduced for first reading on November 3, 2011.

The proposed changes:

Broaden compensation coverage for mental stress conditions arising in the workplace. Adjust compensation for injured apprentices to a level that fairly represents their loss of earnings. Grant survivor benefits to common law couples without children after three years of cohabitation (previously two years). Confirm the most recent inflation adjustments for compensation and penalty amounts.

Minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government Margaret MacDiarmid said, "Our government recognizes that we need to treat job-related mental stress the same way we treat physical illness and injuries. We know mental stress has a significant impact on workers, their families and their workplace."

Bill 14 proposes expanding compensation for mental stress arising from the course of the worker's employment to go beyond the current requirement of "an acute reaction to a sudden and traumatic event" and include the reaction to a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors.

Stress resulting from employment decisions like discipline, termination or a change in working conditions will continue to be excluded from coverage. To be eligible for mental stress compensation in BC, a recognized diagnosis will be required.

Mental stress conditions can be caused by many different work circumstances. WorkSafeBC will be developing policy on when mental stress will be eligible for compensation. Examples that other jurisdictions have accepted include: emergency service personnel who gradually develop post-traumatic stress as a reaction to the traumatic events they may regularly experience as part of their job. Exposure to workplace violence or bullying.

WorkSafeBC Update

WorkSafeBC has launched a new online tool that will provide new and young workers with the resources they need to stay safe and healthy at work. 

Students at WorkSafeBC coverage

A change to WorkSafeBC has expanded coverage of students in work experience under section 3(7) of the Act. The Board of Directors passed the following resolution which, on December 8, 2010, the Board of Directors approved the expansion of the terms and conditions of coverage for public and independent school students to engage in work study/work experience programs. 

The changes in terms and conditions of coverage expanded the definition of work experience to include all students engaged in non-paid school-arranged work experience programs, not only students participating in work experience in order to meet their Graduation Transitions requirements. 

The order-in-council approving these amendments was effective as of July 21, 2011.

Resource for new supervisors training

Supervisors, workers and employers in any industry in B.C. will benefit from a new WorkSafeBC online safety training course. The information can be accessed any time and is free of charge. 

The Supervising for Safety course provides information and resources on supervision and the key role it plays in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

Violence in the workplace

A poster emphasizing "Violence is not part of the job" has been developed by WorkSafeBC in cooperation with BCPSEA, BCTF and CUPEBC. I will be distributing copies to School Districts. The BCTF and CUPE are also providing copies of the poster.

WorkSafeBC has recently updated guidelines for the declaration of Unsafe Work. This has been a problem in a number of districts this past year.

Part 3 Rights and Responsibilities

G3.12 Refusal of unsafe work [preliminary revision]

This amended guideline defines what constitutes an "undue hazard" and explains the test for making the determination whether a worker has a reasonable cause to believe that an undue hazard exists. It clarifies the requirement to further investigate a work refusal in the presence of other parties, where the worker who made the report of unsafe work and the employer representative receiving the report have been unable to resolve the matter.

Please be aware:

  1. Housekeeping changes in the WSBC Prevention manual effective October 14, 2011 reflect a change in regulation 30.9 (6) to make alarms on laboratory fume hoods mandatory: "A laboratory fume hood that is being installed must have an alarm capable of indicating when the average face velocity falls below the minimum average face velocity level required in section 30.8 (2) when the hood is in use."
  2. Schools using clay in projects should ensure they have a written procedure for clean up. They should ensure that both teaching and non-teaching staff are aware of safe procedures. 

If you would like a sample procedure, please contact Sue Ferguson

Mental Health in the workplace

Mental Health issues are difficult for individual supervisors and principals to effectively handle. With the number of waking hours workers spend on the job, the workplace environment can have a profound impact on their mental health and well-being.  

The mental health of your employees impacts their productivity, ability to concentrate, and their interactions at work. When people are mentally well, they are more likely to fulfill their potential and cope with daily pressures in the workplace. Healthy work environments play an important role in reducing stress levels, creating a positive approach to work, and improving the mental well-being of employees. To help workplaces recognize, understand and address mental health issues, there are several resources available.

To help workplaces recognize, understand and address mental health issues, CCOHS has launched a new Healthy Minds at Work website. The collection of quality online resources offers advice on how to create a healthy, supportive work environment, promote mental health, and effectively handle mental health issues that may exist - to improve workplace mental health for everyone. 

An example of a tool available through this website "Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace - Manager's Guide".

Domestic Violence in the Workplace

WorkSafeBC is going to launch some resources to assist employers with dealing with issues of domestic abuse in the workplace. The toolkit is being prepared in response to a recommendation made in a 2010 report on the findings of the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel. In the report the Chief Coroner recommended that WorkSafeBC develop a resource to help employers provide protection to employees from domestic violence in the workplace, to enhance safety and to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OHSR). 

The goal of this project is to equip employers with resources to assist them in: 

  • understanding why domestic violence is an important workplace issue
  • spotting the signs of domestic violence in employees (also useful for co-workers)
  • understanding their legal obligations under OHSR
  • creating workplace policies and a culture where workers feel safe to disclose issues
  • taking steps to address risks before violent episodes spill over into the workplace.

While Domestic Violence is not specifically referenced in OHS regulations in BC, it is being viewed under the regulations on violence prevention.

For further information, please contact Sue Ferguson of BCPSEA,

BC Public School Employers' Association
400 1333 West Broadway, Vancouver BC V6H 4C1
Tel: 604.730.0739   Fax: 604.730.0787    Privacy Statement