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Collaborating for Safe Operations

In 2008, WorkSafeBC introduced changes to its regulations (OHSR 26.16) describing slope limitations plus requirements for a risk assessment and written safe work procedures for mechanical logging on slopes over 35% or 40% (depending on machine type). To sort out what the regulation requires – in practical terms – contractors, operators, licensees, the BC Forest Safety Council and WorkSafeBC formed a collaborative working group.


July 9, 2012
By Rick Walters BC Forest Safety Council

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In 2009, that group identified five key concerns deserving clarification and solution.

  1. Industry’s perception of changing and inconsistent enforcement practices.
  2. Describing an “acceptable” process for steep slope risk assessment and planning practices.
  3. Definition of “qualified person” able to develop and implement steep slope plans.
  4. What equipment meets regulatory definition of “designed for use on steep slopes”?
  5. Ability to plan operations on steep slope blocks, and not just small sections of blocks.

The working group has made significant progress toward resolving each of those concerns.

In 2010, WorkSafeBC committed to a process in which regional managers would become directly involved in situations where an employer raised concerns with a field officer’s expectations. That has been occurring – recently, where a licensee and contractor were at odds with an officer’s interpretation / expectations, the WSBC manager responsible promptly participated in a meeting and helped clarify that the licensee’s / contractor’s performance were consistent with WSBC expectations, as well as the intent of the regulation and guideline.

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By late 2010, the working group had drafted a Steep Slope Resource Package (SSRP). Subsequent field-testing and broader industry review inspired tweaking of the hazard assessment and planning tool. This May, WorkSafeBC regional prevention managers and its Forest Industry Advisory Group conducted an in-depth review of the SSRP. WorkSafeBC gratefully acknowledged the working group’s effort to undertake and complete the SSRP, and recognized the quality of the assessment tool and procedures. They also provided a few recommendations. Although it was not reasonable to address every WSBC suggestion, additional adjustments now incorporate key points. Download the updated SSRP from www.bcforestsafe.org/steep_slope.html

As Andrea Vienneau, RPF with Atco Wood Products Ltd points out, “The steep slope resource package is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when all parties come to the table willing and able to resolve an issue together.”

Continuing working group efforts demonstrate our industry’s commitment to making sure logging on steep slopes is well-planned, and safely completed. Watch the next issue for information about their accomplishments in resolving remaining concerns.


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