WorkSafeBC announces new approach to construction safety

Focus areas include falls from elevation, struck-by mobile equipment

WorkSafeBC announces new approach to construction safety

April is Construction and Skilled Trades Month in British Columbia, and WorkSafeBC is taking a risk-based approach to reduce injuries in construction, in particular.

"Our 2022 high-risk strategy for construction aims to reduce the number of serious and fatal injuries in the industry,” said Al Johnson, head of prevention services for WorkSafeBC. “As part of our strategy, we will continue to apply our resources and efforts — including inspections and consultations — where they will be most effective."

WorkSafeBC’s high-risk strategies identify and target industries and employers with a high risk of serious workplace injury and a significant contribution to the serious-injury rate.

WorkSafeBC’s focus in the construction industry this year includes the following four areas:

  • Falls from elevation: Falls from elevation continue to drive the serious injury rate in construction.
  • Struck-by mobile equipment: Struck-by injuries continue to drive the serious injury rate and are currently surpassing falls from elevation in terms of the number of injury claims.
  • High voltage limits of approach: Working in proximity to high voltage power lines is a high-risk work activity. Inadequate controls continue to put workers at risk of serious injury or death during the construction phase of building structures, during maintenance of building structures, and while moving equipment and materials on a worksite.
  • Musculoskeletal and repetitive strain injuries (MSI and RSI): Overexertion and repetitive strain injury are the main drivers of musculoskeletal injury claims in the construction industry.

The construction industry is more prone to injuries. In 2020, it had an injury rate of 3.3 per 100 workers, compared with 2.14 across all industries in the province, according to WorkSafeBC. Serious injuries account for approximately 19 percent of claims in the construction industry.

Previously, construction employers Lalli Development (2011) Ltd., 0568677 British Columbia Ltd., Kalan Constructions Ltd., Rainbow Siding Ltd., Global Gutters Ltd., Online Constructors Ltd. and AM PM Landscaping & Tree Service Ltd. were also charged for fall protection violations.

"Our inspections are taking a risk-based approach to ensure the most significant risks are being managed effectively," said Johnson. "This involves employers and their workers working together to identify hazards, evaluate risks, and implement the appropriate controls specific to the work being done on-site."

In 2021, WorkSafeBC prevention officers conducted a total of 7,131 initiating inspections, resulting in 8,145 orders. They imposed 156 penalties on construction employers in total.

Here are 10 effective safety tips that employers, workers and safety professionals need to be aware of on construction sites.