TEASER PHOTO ONLY

WORKPLACE SAFETY

B.C.’s relaxed hardhat rules aim to include more turban-wearing workers on job sites

WorkSafeBC change ‘will allow more Sikhs to come to work without having to compromise religious beliefs’

Labour Minister Harry Bains says B.C.’s new hardhat rules make workplaces more inclusive, especially for those who wear turbans or other religious head coverings, but some construction companies and workers fear safety will be risked.

Starting Sept. 1, employers will be required to review each area of a job site when determining if a person must wear safety headgear in that area.

Safety headgear-related changes WorkSafeBC is making to B.C.’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation were announced by Bains, the MLA for Surrey-Newton, on Wednesday (June 2).

Employers will determine, through a risk assessment, what safety precautions could be taken to prevent head injuries and whether a hardhat is necessary.

“Creating more inclusive workplaces is a priority for our government, and we have been advocating for a change to the safety headgear regulations for a long time,” Bains stated. “We are building an economy that benefits everyone, which includes ensuring safe workplaces are inclusive to people regardless of their faith.”

The Sikh community has raised concerns about not being able to fully participate in the workforce because of some employers’ approach to the safety headgear requirement, a government news release notes.

WorkSafeBC held public and stakeholder consultations about the issue in 2020 and early 2021, and the WorkSafeBC board of directors later approved a regulatory change when it comes to safety headgear.

The use of a hardhat as personal protective equipment is the least effective compared to other safety controls, according to Baltej Dhillon, retired RCMP officer and WorkSafeBC board member.

Dhillon was the first Mountie to wear a turban while on duty.

“This change will also allow members of the Sikh community who wear a turban to engage in dialogue with their employers to address workplace risks, which can, in turn, eliminate the need for a hardhat in certain scenarios,” Dhillon said in the government news release. “This change supports worker safety and will allow more Sikhs to come to work without having to compromise their religious beliefs.”

Balpreet Singh Boparai, legal counsel with World Sikh Organization of Canada, also weighed in.

“These regulatory changes support workplace health and safety and benefit not just Sikhs, but all B.C. workers,” Boparai stated. “This step makes British Columbia a leader in the accommodation of the turban, and I’m confident that government, employers and workers will work together to make these new regulations a success.”

Last fall, the B.C. Council of Construction Associations created a video showing the importance of safety headgear in construction, and interviewed two turban-wearing Sikhs at the King George Hub job site in Surrey. Both endorsed the use of hardhats for Sikhs and suggested shortened turbans as a way for them to fit better.

Said a post on cocabc.ca in September: “Labour Minister Harry Bains has proposed changes to the hardhat regulations in response to concerns raised by some in the Sikh community, but the COCA maintains the changes just aren’t practical and would endanger the workers themselves as well as their counterparts onsite.”

COCA president Dave Baspaly said despite the best safety, engineering and mitigation methods, items are still falling from heights and, at the end of the day, a hardhat is the last line of defence.

“In our world we can have a co-existence of religious freedom and safety and, when done properly, when everybody’s educated, nobody’s disenfranchised and everybody goes home safe,” Baspaly said in the COCA website post of a Journal of Commerce story.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

ConstructionReligion

Just Posted

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Most Read