Employment Standards Branch to Audit Contractor Payrolls

The Employment Standards Branch will do a series of target audits on silvicultural contracting firms this spring to ensure full compliance with the Employment Standards Act. The initiative comes from Skills Development and Labour Minister Graham Bruce who wants to see improvements in workplace practices in the silviculture industry including health and safety and employment standards.

The minister applauded the silviculture contracting industry’s role in the new BC Safe Silviculture Project and laid out his expectations for continued improvement in Employment Standards Practices in a letter to the WSCA.

John Betts Executive Director Western Silviculture Contractors’ Association

Dear Mr. Betts;

I recognize the need to maintain a viable and vibrant Silviculture industry while at the same time ensuring that provisions relating to employment and safety regulations are adhered to.

Steps have been taken to assist the industry in complying with such regulations. In 2002 the Employment Standards Branch, in consultation with employees and employers, implemented the silviculture regulation better reflecting the operational reality of the industry while protecting the interests of employees.

In addition, I am pleased to see the Western Silviculture Contractors’ Association (WSCA) and the BC Forest Safety Council working collaboratively to develop the “BC Safe Silviculture Program” whose aim is to reduce injuries and accidents and to improve health, safety and workplace practices in the sector.

Although many conscientious contractors have implemented the changes required by the new regulation, there are still concerns with others. Therefore I am calling on the Employment Standards Branch, the Workers Compensation Board, the BC Forest Safety Council and the Western Silviculture Contractor’s Association to immediately take a number of steps to encourage full compliance with existing safety and employment regulations.

Specifically:

• The Director of Employment Standards to develop appropriate silviculture compliance initiatives, including audit, site visit and educational components.

• The BC Forest Safety Council, the ESB,l and the WCB to work with the licensees and BC Timber Sales to ensure that notification of work commencement is communicated to the Employment Standards Branch and the WCB.

• The BC Forest Safety Council to conduct a safety review to determine the extent to which non-compliance with employment safety standards contributes to unsafe and unhealthy workplaces.

• The BC Forest Safety Council to continue its work on developing pre-qualification criteria for a contractor qualification process whereby only those “qualified contractors” will be eligible to bid on Silviculture contracts tendered by Timber Sales BC and other forest company licensees.

• The Western Silviculture Contractor’s Association to continue to work in collaboration with the ESB and WCB and to impress upon its members that heightened commitment to comply with the safety and employment regulations is vital to the continued growth of the sector. • All parties to take steps to raise awareness of the requirements of the regulations and to ensure that employees are aware of their rights and the employers’ obligations.

It is up to the industry itself to work cooperatively towards these efforts and I commend the parties for their ongoing commitment to a thriving silviculture industry.

Signed Graham Bruce

For more information on the Employment Standards Branch Regulations for silviculture go to: Silviculture Fact Sheet