||Volume 16, Number 5, April 2004
Health & Safety: WCB and deregulation
by Stewart Schon
BCTF members across the province are affected by the current Liberal government’s deregulation. The WCB (although it is a separate, non-government insurance agency) has agreed to reduce the regulations that protect workers, in line with the government initiatives.
Beginning July 2003, certain WCB regulations have been removed for employers’ convenience. The WCB regulations about first-aid supplies and first-aid attendants (Part 33) have been replaced. The employer must carry out an assessment to justify the level of first aid that will be provided to the workers on their work site.
School districts no longer have to provide separate staff/student washrooms in schools (Regulation 4.93). That is a significant change, affecting all teachers in a variety of ways. Personal comfort and cleanliness are drastically affected when students use a washroom. Cuts in custodial services rarely keep school washrooms clean throughout the school day.
Wording changes in the violence prevention regulation (4.24-4.31) will lump worker-against-worker conduct with the other regulations regarding violence by non-workers.
WCB does not mix the collective agreement grievance process into WCB procedures. It simply refuses! What effects will such changes have on harassment and bullying? How will the workers be protected and made "whole" under this collapsed system?
Working with the Occupational Health and Safety Committee of the B.C. Federation of Labour, BCTF members are joining with other organized workers to express our concerns regarding the lost regulations and to express concern about the needs that are not yet met.
BCTF members are beginning to understand the need for effective WCB regulations to protect all workers. School boards do not always seek to protect BCTF members in their working conditions. Deregulation will not make our jobs safer or healthier.
B.C. Federation of Labour Young Workers’ Program
Children (age 12 years) may now work in B.C. B.C.’s young workers have already high rates of injury and death across the province.
The B.C. Federation of Labour has trained 20 young workers including two BCTF members, to offer one-hour presentations to Grade 11 and 12 students. The program is for today’s youth. It is presented articulately and effectively. BCTF members across B.C. should book this program into their school—protect the youth of today so they too have a tomorrow in B.C.
A graphic video, produced by the WCB, Lost Youth, speaks to the consequences of untrained youth in the workplaces in B.C. and promotes young worker safety and accident prevention.
Contact Sheila Moir, B.C. Federation of Labour (604-430-1421), to book this community-building program.
Stewart Schon teaches at Sullivan Elementary School, Surrey, and he chairs the BCTF Health and Safety Advisory Committee.
Maureen Macdonald’s regular health and safety column will return in the next issue of Teacher. If you would like your name added to the BCTF occupational health and safety e-mail list, contact Whitney Burgess: email@example.com.