New BC hard hat policies offer flexibility for workers with turbans

Jun 2 2021, 2:10 pm

WorkSafeBC is making changes to BC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation on safety headgear.

Starting on September 1, employers will be required to review each job site area when determining if a person must wear safety headgear, such as a hard hat.

Through risk assessment, employers will determine what precautions could be taken to prevent head injuries and whether a hard hat is necessary, the province said.

BC workplaces are governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which lays out the rules around workplace safety. In some workplaces, safety headgear protects workers from a head injury from falling objects and other hazards.

In many workplaces, employers have approached the regulation with a blanket rule requiring all workers to wear a hard hat on the job, even in areas where the level of risk may be low or non-existent.

The province said this regulatory change provides more opportunities for employers to safely accommodate workers who wear head coverings like turbans as a religious practice.

“For many years, 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,” the province said.

The move comes after BC Labour Minister Harry Bains initiated a request in 2019 asking WorkSafeBC to review safety headgear regulations and consider changes to make them more inclusive.

Employers, industry associations, workers, unions and community leaders shared their perspectives on the proposed changes. In April of this year, the WorkSafeBC board of directors approved a regulatory change to Part 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation dealing with safety headgear.

After the changes take effect, WorkSafeBC will continue to conduct inspections in the industries with the highest risk of serious injuries.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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