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 assist 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.
The 2011 year brought many challenges to the construction industry, as well as a number of unique opportunities developing. A summary of activity/issues follows:
- The Provincial government has introduced a change to the Workers’ Compensation Act to end the over-compensation of workers who are in an apprenticeship program.COCA has actively lobbied for this change over a number of years.The current system over-compensates apprentices who are on workers’ compensation. The issue arises when a person who is an apprentice is injured at work. This applies to any apprentice in any industry. After 10 weeks, the apprentice has his wage rate increased to the much higher journeyman level.It takes up to five years to progress from apprentice to journeyman. For example, 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 currently moves the injured apprentice to this journeyman rate of $33.21 per hour after only 10 weeks!
Effective July 1, 2012, workers in apprentice programs will be compensated in the same manner as other workers in BC. Construction employers will save significant money.
- The WorkSafeBC Board of Directors has decided to change the current Experience Rating limits to the 50% discount and the 100% surcharge that has been in place for all other industries in BC since the year 2000.When the decision was made to change to the 50/100% limits, COCA then lobbied for a reasonable period of transition.The WorkSafeBC Board of Directors has decided on this transition plan:
Year % Surcharge Max % Discount Max 2012 33.3 (no change) 33.3 (no change) 2013 45 37.5 2014 60 42 2015 80 47 2016 100 50
This 5-year transition — as requested by COCA – will allow time for companies to refine and improve their Safety and Return to Work programs.
- The VRCA Board of Directors, supported by the BCCA Board, asked COCA to assist with two Motions, as summarized by Keith Sashaw:The VRCA Board of Directors has recently passed a couple of motions requesting that COCA take on two issues as part of its liaison activities with Worksafe BC:
– Actively addressing substance abuse on work sites; and
– Requiring new entrants into the industry to demonstrate they have and are familiar with safety plans.Grant has researched options for alcohol/drug policy development and employee testing and sent a report to VRCA President Keith Sashaw.Grant has spoken with senior management at WorkSafeBC. They have agreed to change their current print and online registration form to include the requirement for a suitable health and safety program. This registration form is used for all new companies who register for workers’ compensation coverage.
- COCA continues to work with WorkSafeBC to determine the reasons – and the solutions — for the sudden and large increase in the Duration of Claims.From December, 2008 to December, 2010, the average Duration of a wage loss WorkSafeBC claim has increased by 43%! The Construction Industry and WorkSafeBC need to work together to prevent what will otherwise be large increases in assessment rates for the years 2013 and beyond. (We are currently at the lowest historical average assessment rate for the Construction Industry.)COCA has been focusing on the need for improved and accelerated Return to Work.
- A WorkSafeBC Regulation that caused confusion and difficulty for contractors has been changed.Following a series of meetings and consultations, including WorkSafeBC’s formal, public Regulation Review process, COCA has succeeded in changing the Regulation that controls the retrieval of traffic cones.The Regulation that will be changed states that: “Rear mounted footboards or platforms must not be occupied if the mobile equipment is backing up.” (16(31).COCA lobbied for the change to this Regulation and demonstrated that the safest and most practical way of recovering traffic cones is for the truck to back up on the freeway while the workers recover the traffic cones.
This method of picking up traffic cones will now be permitted. The change will be effective on February 1, 2012.
- Progress is being made on the Assured Grounding issue, which arises because the City of Surrey will not permit the use of an Assured Grounding Program. Only the use of GFCIs is accepted by Surrey. Surrey states that it is concerned with an increase in their liability if they permit the use of an Assured Grounding Program.Discussions have been held with the BC Safety Authority – and BCSA has now issued a new Information Bulletin and a new Directive.Grant asked WorkSafeBC to issue a revised Guideline to the Regulation that covers this area. WorkSafeBC has done this and sent a Draft to Graham Trafford (of Mott Electric and a member of COCA’s Board of Directors) and Grant.A preliminary Guideline has been issued by WorkSafeBC. Graham and Grant have reviewed the Guideline and suggested wording to clarify the use of Assured Grounding Programs.
- 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.WorkSafeBC has included this COCA issue in their 2012 Work Plan.
- Grant continues to work with the Structural Movers’ Association to resolve issues surrounding the design and installation of cribs. We appear to be close to a solution.There is an inconsistency in the way that WorkSafeBC officers approach the issue of crib design. Some require an engineered design, while others do not. WorkSafeBC has formed a small working committee to work with us on the crib issue.The BC Structural Movers’ Association has prepared a generic package of material that can be used – a safe and efficient method for the use of cribs. This would include Safe Working Procedures.This generic package is now being reviewed by WorkSafeBC.
Grant is coordinating this process with the Structural Movers’ Association and WorkSafeBC.
- COCA has been successful in suspending a conflicting set of regulations relating to system scaffolding that had been causing headaches for contractors.COCA requested WorkSafeBC to work with the Construction Industry to resolve an inconsistency between the WorkSafeBC Regulation and the CSA Code of Practice.The CSA guideline calls for a top rail height of 39 inches, plus or minus 3 inches. The WSBC Regulation requires a top rail height of 40 to 44 inches.Most scaffold systems in all industry are built to the CSA guideline. This affects hundreds of scaffold systems throughout BC. The issue has now been successfully resolved with a new WorkSafeBC Guideline.
- COCA published 6 columns in the Journal of Commerce, including “Know your rights when it comes to worksite inspections,” which was published on October 24, 2011 and also included on the VRCA web page.COCA Accumulated Savings 1992 to 2011 — $522 Million
Source of Saving Millions of Dollars
Scaffold Regulation $14
Admin formula $120 *
Fatal Benefit calc $42
Interest calc $15
Amendments current $135 **
Amendment long term $100
TCP Regulation change $23
Young Worker Reg. change $5
GFCI change $68TOTAL SAVINGS $522* accumulated total for WCB change in accounting practice for 1992 to 2011, 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 2011, 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.