TEASER PHOTO ONLY

WORKPLACE SAFETY

B.C.’s relaxed hardhat rules aim to include more turban-wearing workers on job sites

WorkSafeBC change ‘will allow more Sikhs to come to work without having to compromise religious beliefs’

Labour Minister Harry Bains says B.C.’s new hardhat rules make workplaces more inclusive, especially for those who wear turbans or other religious head coverings, but some construction companies and workers fear safety will be risked.

Starting Sept. 1, employers will be required to review each area of a job site when determining if a person must wear safety headgear in that area.

Safety headgear-related changes WorkSafeBC is making to B.C.’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation were announced by Bains, the MLA for Surrey-Newton, on Wednesday (June 2).

Employers will determine, through a risk assessment, what safety precautions could be taken to prevent head injuries and whether a hardhat is necessary.

“Creating more inclusive workplaces is a priority for our government, and we have been advocating for a change to the safety headgear regulations for a long time,” Bains stated. “We are building an economy that benefits everyone, which includes ensuring safe workplaces are inclusive to people regardless of their faith.”

The Sikh community has raised concerns about not being able to fully participate in the workforce because of some employers’ approach to the safety headgear requirement, a government news release notes.

WorkSafeBC held public and stakeholder consultations about the issue in 2020 and early 2021, and the WorkSafeBC board of directors later approved a regulatory change when it comes to safety headgear.

The use of a hardhat as personal protective equipment is the least effective compared to other safety controls, according to Baltej Dhillon, retired RCMP officer and WorkSafeBC board member.

Dhillon was the first Mountie to wear a turban while on duty.

“This change will also allow members of the Sikh community who wear a turban to engage in dialogue with their employers to address workplace risks, which can, in turn, eliminate the need for a hardhat in certain scenarios,” Dhillon said in the government news release. “This change supports worker safety and will allow more Sikhs to come to work without having to compromise their religious beliefs.”

Balpreet Singh Boparai, legal counsel with World Sikh Organization of Canada, also weighed in.

“These regulatory changes support workplace health and safety and benefit not just Sikhs, but all B.C. workers,” Boparai stated. “This step makes British Columbia a leader in the accommodation of the turban, and I’m confident that government, employers and workers will work together to make these new regulations a success.”

Last fall, the B.C. Council of Construction Associations created a video showing the importance of safety headgear in construction, and interviewed two turban-wearing Sikhs at the King George Hub job site in Surrey. Both endorsed the use of hardhats for Sikhs and suggested shortened turbans as a way for them to fit better.

Said a post on cocabc.ca in September: “Labour Minister Harry Bains has proposed changes to the hardhat regulations in response to concerns raised by some in the Sikh community, but the COCA maintains the changes just aren’t practical and would endanger the workers themselves as well as their counterparts onsite.”

COCA president Dave Baspaly said despite the best safety, engineering and mitigation methods, items are still falling from heights and, at the end of the day, a hardhat is the last line of defence.

“In our world we can have a co-existence of religious freedom and safety and, when done properly, when everybody’s educated, nobody’s disenfranchised and everybody goes home safe,” Baspaly said in the COCA website post of a Journal of Commerce story.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

ConstructionReligion

Just Posted

Brodie Stuart and her mom, Mikel Stuart, gather for the celebration at Parkview Elementary on June 18, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Eagle Valley News)
Three Shuswap parents honoured for combined 34 years of volunteering

Parkview Elementary parent advisory council members surprised by appreciative flash mob

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Centennial Field in Blind Bay will be the site of Market by the Bay on Thursday nights starting June 24, 2021. (Columbia Shuswap Regional District photo)
Forty vendors expected for new Market by the Bay in the South Shuswap

Market starting June 24 to be situated at Centennial Field in Blind Bay

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to collect donations ahead of Kristy Handel’s 33-kilometre run for Chelaine McInroy (pictured) to cover costs for a new prosthetic leg after her June 12, 2021, surgery. (GoFundMe)
Salmon Arm woman runs to raise funds for friend’s new prosthetic leg

33-kilometre Run for Chelaine to help athlete cover medical costs from latest surgery

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read