Highlights 2002 to 2009

The activities of COCA are directed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  The Highlights listed below are presented in chronological order. Some activities took place over several years.

Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act
Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act have a positive impact on costs and fairness.

Major Changes are: the basis for compensation changed from 75% of gross income to 90% of net income; claims for stress are paid only for a short term reaction to a traumatic work incident; Loss of Earnings pensions are limited to “exceptional” circumstances; Consumer Price Index (CPI) changes from twice per year to once per year. In addition, the formula used for adjustment is CPI minus 1%, to a maximum of 4% per year; WorkSafeBC benefits are no longer “stacked” on Canada Pension Plan benefits; CPP is the first payer and 50% of the amount paid is deducted from any amount paid by the WorkSafeBC.

The government has estimated that the savings to the system from these changes are about $100 million per year. The construction industry’s costs are reduced by about $20 million per year going forward. The change also has a positive effect on the Fund Balance — reducing estimated future costs by $500 million – and the Construction Industry’s one time reduction was $100 million.

The appeal system has also been streamlined along the lines of the recommendations from COCA. The old system of Review Board, Medical Review Panel and Appeal Division has being replaced by a two level system – the Internal Review Division and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal. This speeds up decisions and gives finality for both workers and employers (98% of appeals are from workers). Time limits are placed on appeals and decisions are final.

WorkSafeBC no longer examines and certifies for first aid certificates. This is done through the private sector and provides faster and more convenient service.

Construction Safety Association of BC
COCA developed the Construction Safety Association of BC (CSABC), the first province wide construction safety association. (The CSABC is now in the process of merging with the Construction Safety Network, to create a unified, cost effective approach to construction safety.)

Client Service Managers for Construction
At the request of COCA two Client Services Managers have been put in place by WorkSafeBC to work with the Construction Industry. The CSMs assist with:

  1. A case-by-case opportunity to consult on claims issues.
  2. A company-specific review of assessments, injury profile, and costs. This is presented in report format, and is designed to target areas of the company that could benefit from assistance.
  3. Assistance with setting up Early Safe Return to Work programs.

Violence in the Workplace Regulation Made More Reasonable
A proposed regulation on violence in the workplace would have required the employer to investigate “improper conduct” in a way that was time-consuming and non-productive. This change was opposed by COCA and has been called back by WorkSafeBC for further review; then stopped.

Assessment Reductions for Completing COR Training
CSABC partners with WorkSafeBC to offer up to a 10% rebate on WorkSafeBC assessments for construction industry companies that complete the Certificate of Recognition (COR) training. The program is fully described on the CSABC website (www.csabc.ca).
An additional 5 per cent rebate is available upon successful completion of a new Return to Work component for the COR Program. This results in a possible rebate of up to 15%!

Traffic Control Guideline Made Workable
The Traffic Control Guideline was reviewed by WorkSafeBC. WorkSafeBC had initially proposed a change to the regulation which would have required virtually all contractors to send at least some of their workers to a two day Traffic Control Person course, at substantial cost in time and money. COCA met with WorkSafeBC and this proposal has undergone modification to make it more reasonable. The original regulation, had it stood, would have resulted in a large cost to contractors — up to $23,000,000.

Young/New Worker Regulation made Reasonable
WorkSafeBC proposed a change to the training of new or young (under 25) workers. The change would have required a documented assessment of the safety performance of the new/young worker every two months for the first six months of the worker’s time in the company or in a new position within the company. This is an impractical requirement for an industry with high turnover and continual changes to the workplace. COCA organized letters to promote more reasonable and positive change. The requirement for the two-month evaluations was dropped.

Loss of Earnings Pension Rules Kept Balanced
The system for assigning Loss of Earnings pensions was under review by WorkSafeBC. This would have significantly increased costs.

>There has been extensive pressure upon WorkSafeBC and the government from the Trade Unions to return to the old, expensive and inefficient Loss of Earnings system because it produced much larger pensions for workers with relatively minor injuries.

COCA prepared and circulated to its members a 10 page analysis and recommendation on this important issue. The Loss of Earnings review has not yet taken place.

High Risk Strategy Modified
WorkSafeBC has changed the implementation plan for its High Risk Strategy as the result of a request from COCA and other associations. WorkSafeBC had first planned to start the High Risk Strategy with no advanced consultation. As a result of this change the plan started after improved consultation and cooperation — after COCA had the opportunity of informing and advising construction companies about the WorkSafeBC plan.

Improved, Free Access to Safety Training Materials
COCA successfully lobbied WSBC to remove the charges for downloading the WSBC safety videos. The videos are now available at any time free of charge.

Assisting Common Ground Alliance
The Common Ground Alliance has been working to change WorkSafeBC regulations to improve safety while working on underground facilities. Part of the process involves the creation of a regulation to require that the physical locating be done by the utility owner. COCA is assisting this process through contact with WorkSafeBC.

Lower Rates
Over the past five years, most WorkSafeBC base assessment rates decreased for employers in B.C.’s construction industry. The rates for most groups are at, or close to record lows.

GFCI Issued Resolved with City of Vancouver
The GFCI issue with the City of Vancouver has been resolved. COCA has worked with WorkSafeBC and the City of Vancouver on the issue of coordinating the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC and the electrical authorities that have the authority to provide a variance to the use of GFCIs.

WorkSafeBC now issues a new Notice of Project form that incorporates the use of an assured Grounding Program, if the General Contractor decides to use one. WorkSafeBC has also changed its Guideline on GFCIs and Assured Grounding to provide greater clarity.

Coverage for Apprentices in Industry Schools Continued
The issue of coverage for apprentices in trade schools has been resolved as a result of COCA’s actions.
(WorkSafeBC had previously determined that coverage would not be available for apprentices through the school, unless the Ministry of Advanced Education approves the training program and the school.)
COCA also worked with the Sheet Metal Industry Workers Training Centre Society and others to move this issue forward.
As a result of ongoing discussions over almost a year, WorkSafeBC and the Ministry of Advanced Education have agreed to provide coverage.

Experience Rating Limits Held at 33/33%
COCA has been successful in preserving the current level of maximum and minimum Experience Rating adjustments for at least two more years, until 2012.
Currently, the Construction Industry has a maximum merit rate of 33.3% and a maximum demerit rate of 33.3%. (That is, a maximum merit rate 33.3% lower than the base rate; a maximum demerit rate that is 33.3% higher than the base rate.) Starting in the year 2000, all other BC industry has a maximum merit rate of 50% and a maximum demerit rate of 100%.

Prior to the year 2000, COCA successfully campaigned for continuance of the 33/33 variation and WorkSafeBC agreed to a three-year pilot. This pilot expired on December 31, 2002 but COCA has been successful in lobbying for the preservation of the 33/33 limits.

Orders to Workers
After years of discussion and meetings on the subject with COCA, WorkSafeBC has issued a new Guideline for writing Orders to Workers that should result in the better use of these Orders and a more fair and balanced approach to the shared safety responsibility in the workplace. This is a major change in approach. The Guideline applies when the worker has been properly trained and supervised and still violates a WorkSafeBC health & safety regulation.

Previously, the employer was almost always – 99% of the time! — held responsible when a safety violation occurred.

Lobby for Flexible Regulation
COCA has arranged with WorkSafeBC a review of two regulations that would provide greater flexibility to contractors — To change the appropriate WorkSafeBC regulations to allow Engineers to design/certify the proper installation and use of Wire Rope Guardrails – Reg. 4.58(4)(b) and Swingstages – Reg. 13.32.

Lobby to Eliminate Over-Compensation for Apprentices
COCA continues to lobby for a change in the WorkSafeBC legislation which over-compensates apprentices. 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, under the WorkSafeBC legislation, the apprentice has his wage rate increased to the journeyman level.

Improve Return to Work
COCA continues to work with WorkSafeBC and CBI/Summit Rehabilitation to promote and educate the construction industry about an improved Return to Work program – called Employer Injury Services (EIS).
The basic concept is to assist the injured worker to achieve a safe, early and durable Return to Work. In some cases, using this process may result in no time lost from work.

EIS provides immediate access to a Doctor specially trained in return to work processes and to a physiotherapy assessment. There is direct, same day, communication with the employer to facilitate a safe return to work. This service is available to contractors who register in advance with CBI, at the access telephone number shown below.

Summit/CBI Contact: Mike Allegreto, EIS Program Coordinator for CBI Health Group directly at: 1-250-818-2990.

Estimated Savings 1992 to 2009

  • Scaffold Regulations: $14 million
  • Admin formula: $108 million *
  • Fatal Benefit calc: $42 million
  • Interest calculation: $15 million
  • Amendments current: $105 million**
  • Amendments long term: $100 million
  • TCP Regulation change: $23 million***
  • Young Worker Reg change: $5 million
  • GFCI change: $68 million
  • TOTAL SAVINGS : $480 million

*accumulated total for WorkSafeBC change in accounting practice for 1992 to 2008, 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 Workers’ Compensation Act amendment savings for 2003 to 2008, at $15 million per year

*** TCP = Traffic Control Person