After the BC Coroner cited flaws in the appointment of the prime contractor responsible for the area in which a faller died last year practices may actually be getting worse.
Now everybody’s a prime contractor, at least according to some early season contractor reports from Vancouver Island. The reports, which reflect practices reported in the Interior as well, define every work location—meaning cut block—as a work place and the phase contractor active on it as the prime contractor. The practice requires various signage defining the workplaces and the juggling of duties as other “prime contractors” intermittently interact with other designated multiple employer work places in the course of a day’s work. In some cases the designated PCs actually sign off their responsibilities at certain times handing it to other designates.
These confusing practices amount to the exact opposite of the coordination that the prime contractor role is supposed to accomplish. Existing WorkSafe BC policy clearly states that prime contractors must have sufficient knowledge and control to exercise their authority as prime contractors. In most cases the only operator capable of this is the owner or licensee. The present misapplication of PC status suggest some forest companies don’t understand the purpose of the designation or the proper application of due diligence. It also makes them appear to be refusing to accept appropriate ownership for coordinating the activities of their various contractors working for them.
The WSCA has made recommendations pertaining to this issue as part of the ongoing WorkSafe BC regulation review of Part 26 Forest Operations.