The only thing that has changed in Part 33 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations is the training of first aid attendants. The rest still applies. But big potential changes are in the works.

WCB Safety Regulations Update

Contrary to rumours and some general confusion created by the ongoing reviews of WCB policy and practice Part 33 of the Occupational Health Safety Regulations which governs WCB occupational first aid requirements is still in effect and will remain so next year.

Last month WCB introduced an amendment to Part 33 concerning the certification and examination of level 2 and 3 first aid attendants. WCB will no longer examine and certify these levels along with transportation endorsements. The same agencies that provide the training will now be able to do the testing. This amendment went into effect October 28, 2002. There is some controversy over this development with critics suggesting it will lead to a decline in performance.

Other than this change, which only affects trainers, all occupational first aid tables, schedules, procedures, authorities and training requirements are the same. The only difference that may affect employers is that existing first aid tickets are no longer eligible for extensions when they come up for renewal.

While the status quo for first aid regulations remains, broad changes are expected over the next year as the WCB goes through a round of regulatory changes. The next phase of ammendments in the occupational health and safety arena will include the introduction of performance based occupational first aid. Under this regime employers can either singly or collectively conduct risk assessments and develop for approval by WCB their own workplace health and safety regulations.

This approach is predicated on the principle that industry may know best what is appropriate for its own theatre of industrial operations. It may also grant participants the chance to address injuries or problems peculiar to their own unique activities. In lieu of this approach employers can still resort to the old standards if they are appropriate and convenient.

For silvicultural contracting creating some special safety rules and justifying relief from some existing regulations may prove worth the time to do the necessary risk assessments. Public hearings to develop performance based requirements for first aid will commence this spring.

WCB Base Assessment Rates:

Base assessment rates for various forestry employer classification units were announced earlier this fall. For comparison sake here is a summary of some related forestry activities.

Treeplanting or cone picking: 2002 rate; 3.27 2003 rate; 3.30 Chemical brushing, weeding, tree thinning, spacing; 2002 rate; 5.87 2003 rate 6.51 Brushing weeding, tree thinning, spacing: 2002 rate; 5.87 2003 rate 6.51 Forest fire fighting: 2002 rate; 5.87 2003 rate 6.51 Manual tree falling and bucking: 2002 rate; 11.06 2003 rate 10.79 Cable or Hi-lead logging: 2002 rate 12.23 2003 rate 11.67

Dwindling hospital facilities and first aid

Since the majority of silvicultural workplaces are well away from hospitals the recent reductions of hospital services may not have an effect on first aid requirements. Nevertheless first aid strategies should take into account the reduced capacity and in some cases the elimination of hospitals in many rural locations in British Columbia. New ambulance hospital by pass protocols may lead to even longer evacuation times for injured workers.