2010 Annual Report

The Council of Construction Associations (COCA) was created as an industry umbrella organization to present a united front and a systematic approach to WorkSafeBC issues.  COCA deals with legislative, regulatory, policy and practice issues within the workers’ compensation system in BC.  COCA also assists individual contractors with their WorkSafeBC concerns.

COCA has 16 member associations (including BCCA), with membership from very sector and from every size of company.   COCA is funded by these associations.  The COCA Chair is Ken Farey of Campbell Construction.

A summary of activity/issues for the year 2010 follows:

1. Injury Rate Drops; Duration Increases
For the Construction Industry overall, there was a 22% drop in the Injury Rate but a 23% increase in the Duration of claims.  This demonstrates that we need to do more to manage the Duration of claims.
There are three essential ways to reduce injury and duration.

    • 1.1     Contact the new BC Construction Safety Alliance and sign up for their Certificate of Recognition.   The BCCSA will guide you through the steps to improve your health & safety program and complete your COR. – Call the BCCSA at 604-636-3675 and ask for information on COR.
    • 1.2.    The best way to improve performance on Return to Work is to seek help from the new Construction Nurse Line when needed.  The service is free (you already pay for it with your assessments).  For help with:
      Return to Work; Disability Management; Claim Updates, call:
      604-279-8155, or

The list of rates is available on the WorkSafeBC website.

  • 1.3.    When a worker is injured, you can accelerate the initial medical treatment by contacting CBI Summit.  This private company has a network of doctors who can see your worker within 24 hours of the injury.  Every delay slows down recovery and means more compensation paid.  To contact CBI, call Mike Allegreto at:  250-818-2990.  There is no charge for this service when a claim is accepted by WorkSafeBC.

2. After years of lobbying from COCA, WorkSafeBC has agreed to issue a revised Guideline for Orders to Workers that clearly describes the worker’s responsibilities.  The Guideline provides the following situations of when an Order to Worker may be appropriate:

  • Worker fails to use ppe in accordance with requirements (section 8.9 of the Regulation)
  • Supervisor does not ensure appropriate ppe is available, properly worn, and maintained (section 8.8 of the Regulation)
  • Blaster fails to follow safe blasting procedures (section 21.66 of the Regulation)
  • Worker fails to comply with lockout procedures (section 10.7 of the Regulation)
  • Worker engages in improper activity or behaviour at the workplace (section 4.25 of the Regulation)
  • Crane operator does not follow proper procedures (section 14.38(2) of the Regulation)
  • Worker remains at workplace while being impaired (section 4.20(1) of the Regulation)

The key to all of these situations is that the worker must have been properly trained, provided with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supervised so that they understand the risks, know how to safeguard themselves and that they have been observed demonstrating their competence in safely performing the work.

COCA recommends that contractors read the complete Guideline to ensure full understanding.

Reference:  The Guideline is numbered G-D3-116 Orders to Workers

It can be found online at this link.

3. The amalgamation of the Construction Safety Association of BC and the Construction Safety Network has been completed.  The new organization – the BC Construction Safety Alliance –commenced operations on July 1, 2010.  Mike McKenna is the new Executive Director.  To contact BCCSA and start on your Certificate of Recognition – which will earn you a 10% reduction on your base WorkSafeBC  assessment rate.

4. Work continues on trying to convince government to change the section of the Workers’ Compensation Act that over-compensates apprentices who are on workers’ compensation.  The issue arises when a person who is an apprentice is injured at work. This would apply to any apprentice in any industry, not just construction. After 10 weeks, the apprentice has his wage rate increased to the journeyman level.

It takes up to five years to progress from apprentice to journeyman. Some apprentices make $14.94 per hour and then over four or five years – if they qualify through their performance — move to $33.21 per hour.  WorkSafeBC moves the injured apprentice to this journeyman rate of $33.21 per hour after only 10 weeks!

Contact with senior government officials continues.  COCA sent a news release to the Journal of Commerce, which ran an article on the topic.

5.  COCA is working with WorkSafeBC on the major issue of the sudden and large increase in the Duration of Claims.  From 2008 to 2009, the average Duration of a wage loss WorkSafeBC claim increased by 23%.  From 2008 to 2010, the average Duration of a wage loss WorkSafeBC claim increased by 50%!  The Construction Industry and WorkSafeBC need to work together or we will be facing significant increases in assessment rates for the years 2012-14 and beyond.  (We are currently at the lowest historical average assessment rate for the Construction Industry.)

There are always questions about the efficiency and fairness of WorkSafeBC claims adjudication.  The question now is what has changed to cause the sudden increase in Duration.

6.  COCA is lobbying for a change in the way that assessments are calculated for principals and shareholders of companies.  Currently, dividends are included in assessable payroll if the owner/shareholder is active in the company.  COCA wants WorkSafeBC to exclude dividends from assessable payroll.

The owner/shareholder’s T4 and T4A amounts would be assessed, up to the maximum wage established for that year.  T5 amounts (dividends) would not be assessed. Compensation payment would be based on the principal’s T4 and T4A amounts and would not include any dividend amounts.

This change would mean that the owner/shareholder would be able to choose the appropriate salary level.  The value that resides in the company could, at the principal’s discretion, be paid as dividends.

The exclusion of dividends would make it easier for WorkSafeBC to conduct audits.  There would be no need for the WorkSafeBC auditor to determine the principal’s activity level in a firm or the value of that labour.   This would have the benefit of providing greater clarity and simplicity for stakeholders and for Assessment Department and Audit Section staff.

7.   The City of Surrey has decided that it will not permit the use of an Assured Grounding Program.  Only the use of GFCIs will be accepted.  Grant has met with representatives of the City of Surrey to discuss the issue.  (Graham Trafford of Mott Electric and Bob Reimer and Jim Billey of Dominion Construction also attended.)   Surrey states that it is concerned with an increase in their liability if they permit the use of an Assured Grounding Program.  Work on the issue continues.

8. The Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has reviewed the province’s occupational health and safety (OHS) prevention and enforcement programs.

The panel was chaired by former Ontario Cabinet Secretary/former Deputy Minister of Labour Tony Dean.   He reported back to Labour Minister Peter Fonseca in December, 2010.

The discussion paper identifies 8 areas of focus: 1) the roles and responsibilities of system partners; 2) the underground economy; 3) vulnerable workers; 4) incentives; 5) linking procurement to h&s; 6) role of joint health and safety committees; 7) technology and innovation; and 8) mandatory entry level health and safety training.

COCA Accumulated Savings 1992 to 2010

Source of Saving

In Millions

Scaffold Regulation


Admin Formula


Fatal Benefit calc


Interest calc


Amendments current


Amendment long term


TCP Regulation change


Young Worker Reg. change


GFCI change




* accumulated total for WCB change in accounting practice for 1992 to 2010, at $6 million per year WSBC used to attribute admin costs according to the number of inspections.  COCA convinced WSBC to change to a system of time allocation.  The difference is significant because large numbers of inspections can be done in a short time on a construction site.

** accumulated total for WC Act  amendment savings for 2003 to 2010, at $15 million per year

This list does not include the many regulatory and policy changes that are difficult to quantify, such as the 2010 changes permitting the use of wire rope guardrails and swingstages with an Engineers’ design, instead of the costly WorkSafeBC Variance process.

COCA 2010 Board of Directors

Wayne Fettback, Western Pacific Enterprises Ltd.
Jim Lyth, InterTech
Don McNiven, McNiven Masonry
Terry Siklenka, Accutemp Cairnview Mechanical

Ken Farey, Campbell Construction
Mike Pelletier, Emil Anderson
Rob Sherlock, Western Industrial Contractors Ltd.
John Barker, D. Robinson Contracting (Alternate)

Graham Trafford, Mott Electric

Bruce Dawson, Gable Construction

Canadian Masonry Association of BC
Sev Samulski, Sun Valley Masonry Ltd.

Line Contractors Association
Dr. Jeff Skosnik

Mechanical Contractors Association of BC

Master Painters & Decorators Association
Ross Rex, Ross Rex Painting

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Assn of BC
Tony Miele, Allied Blower & Sheet Metal

Director At Large
Terry Brown, Greyback Construction

Grant McMillan

Ex Officio
Manley McLachlan, BCCA
Bob Morrison, CLRA