13.00 – Legislation

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations are the primary Health and Safety Legislation for employers and employees in British Columbia.

Highlights of the Act and Regulations:

Employees shall ensure, as far as reasonably practical, the health and safety of their workers.

  • Workers shall take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and other workers, and shall co-operate with their employers for the purpose of protecting the health and safety of themselves and other workers.
  • If a serious injury or accident that has the potential for serious injury occurs at a work site, the employer shall notify Occupational Health and Safety and shall conduct an investigation.

What type of injuries do I need to report to WorkSafe?

A reportable injury is an injury arising out of and in the course of employment, or which is claimed by the worker to have arisen out of and in the course of employment, where one of the following conditions is present or subsequently occurs:

  • The worker loses consciousness following the injury.
  • The worker is transported or directed by a first aid attendant or other employer representative to a hospital or other place of medical treatment, or is recommended by such persons to go to such place.
  • The injury is one that obviously requires medical treatment.
  • The worker has received medical treatment for the injury.
  • The worker is unable or claims to be unable by reason of the injury to return to his or her usual job function on any working day subsequent to the day of injury.
  • The injury or accident resulted or is claimed to have resulted in the breakage of an artificial member, eyeglasses, dentures or a hearing aid.
  • The worker or WorkSafeBC has requested that an employer’s report be sent.

Where none of the conditions listed above are present, an injury is a minor injury and not required to be reported to WorkSafeBC unless one of those conditions subsequently occurs.

What type of incidents do I need to report to WorkSafe?

Whether or not an injury occurs, you must immediately call WorkSafeBC emergency and accident reporting phone line if any of the following occurs:

  • Serious injury to or death of a worker
  • Major structural failure or collapse of a building, bridge, tower, crane, hoist, temporary construction support system, or excavation
  • Major release of a hazardous substance
  • Blasting incident causing personal injury
  • Dangerous incident involving explosives (whether or not there is personal injury)
  • Diving incident

A person who contravenes the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the Regulation, or fails to comply with an order made under the Act or the Regulation, is guilty of an offense and liable for fines or imprisonment.

General Obligations of Employers and Workers


Under the OHS Act, employers are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all workers at the work site. Specific requirements are outlined throughout the OHS Act, Regulation and Code depending on the work that is to be done.

You are an employer if:

  • You employ one or more workers,
  • You are designated to represent an employer,
  • Your responsibility is to oversee workers’ health and safety or
  • You are self-employed.

Responsibilities include:

  • Keeping equipment in safe working order
  • Properly labeling and storing dangerous chemicals
  • Ensuring workers perform their duties as required by the OHS Legislation
  • Ensuring workers have the training and experience needed to do their jobs safely
  • Informing your workers of any dangers on the job site
  • Monitoring workers who may be exposed to certain hazards such as chemicals or noise. In some cases, specific health examinations may be required.

Workers must take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and other workers.

Prime Contractor

If there are 2 or more employers involved in work at a work site at the same time, there must be a “PRIME CONTRACTOR”. The prime contractor for a work site is:

  • The contractor, employer or other person who enters into an agreement with the owner of the work site to be the prime contractor, or
  • If no agreement has been made or is in force, the owner of the work site.

The prime contractor, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, must ensure that the OH&S Act, Regulation and Code are complied with.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act does not require the prime contractor to be present at the work site. It does require the prime contractor to have a system in place to ensure, as reasonably practicable, compliance with the OH&S Act, Regulation and Code.

Specific Requirements

Specific requirements for health and safety are included throughout the OHS Act, Regulation and Code. Some key areas applicable to all industries include:

Serious Injuries and Accidents

Employers must report to WorkSafeBC:

  • An injury or accident that results in death,
  • An injury or accident that results in a worker’s being admitted to hospital for more than 2 days.
  • An unplanned or uncontrolled explosion, fire or flood that causes a serious injury or that has the potential of causing a serious injury,
  • The collapse or upset of a crane, derrick or hoist, or
  • The collapse or failure of any component of a building or structure necessary for the structural integrity of the building or structure.

NOTE: There are also separate requirements for reporting injuries to the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB). These are covered under the Worker’s Compensation Act, which is different from Occupational Health and Safety legislation. For further information and access to WCB forms go to www.worksafebc.com

Imminent Danger

The OHS Act, Section 35 or WorkSafeBC regulation 3.12 outlines the worker’s duty to refuse work in the case of imminent danger. “Imminent danger” means any danger that isn’t normal for a job, or any dangerous conditions under which a worker wouldn’t normally carry out their work. If workers think their work may put them or another worker in imminent danger, they must refuse to do it.

For Example:

A construction worker who has not been trained to handle explosives is being asked by his employer to destroy some explosives left behind at the work site by other employers. (Handling explosives is a danger normally present for blasters, but not for the construction worker).

The construction worker must refuse to carry out the work and inform the employer of the refusal and the reason for the refusal.

The employer must investigate and take action to eliminate the immediate danger.

The following list summarizes all topics covered by the WorkSafeBC Regulations. www.worksafebc.com        

BRITISH COLUMBIA    Topic Part of OH&S Code
Definitions and General Application Part 1
Application Part 2
Rights and Responsibilities Part 3
General Conditions Part 4
Chemical Agents and Biological Agents Part 5
Substance Specific Requirements Part 6
Noise, Vibration, Radiation and Temperature Part 7
Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment Part 8
Confined Spaces Part 9
De-energization and Lockout Part 10
Fall Protection Part 11
Tools, Machinery and Equipment Part 12
Ladders, Scaffolds and Temporary Work Platforms Part 13
Cranes and Hoists Part 14
Rigging Part 15
Mobile Equipment Part 16
Transportation of Workers Part 17
Traffic Control Part 18
Electrical Safety Part 19
Construction, Excavation and Demolition Part 20
Blasting Operations Part 21
Underground Workings Part 22
Oil and Gas Part 23
Diving, Fishing and Other Marine Operations Part 24
Camps Part 25
Forestry Operations and Similar Activities Part 26
Wood Products Manufacturing Part 27
Agriculture Part 28
Aircraft Operations Part 29
Laboratories Part 30
Firefighting Part 31
Evacuation and Rescue Part 32
Not in effect Part 33
Rope Access Part 34

This company has copies of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code in our office that are readily available to every worker for their review.

This company requires that all its personnel be familiar with and practice the safety standards of the company. We insist that the safety standards of the client are the absolute minimum when on site and that, as individuals, all employees and contractors are to conduct themselves in such a way that safeguards them, their fellow workers, and the assets of the company. It will be the responsibility of Management to ensure the compliance by employees with established rules and regulations for the health and safety of the company.

The provincial regulations outline safety responsibilities and minimum safety requirements. It is the responsibility of all personnel, to read, understand and comply with the regulations that are applicable to their job.

This manual supersedes all previous Safety Policies previously issued. This is a consolidated update of existing procedures to ensure that Occupational Health and Safety practices are carried out in an approved manner and in accordance with regulatory laws and regulations, codes and specifications of federal, provincial and local governments, and companypolicies as it relates to Health and Safety.

This manual will be revised and/or amended at any time as the need arises. Suggestions for its improvement are encouraged from employees and should be submitted in writing to the president of the company.