WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line receives more than 1,000 calls a week from workers, employers, and first responders with questions about safety.
I’ve always wondered how many people call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line — so I got in touch with Angelo Cabalfin, manager of Prevention Support.
He told me the Prevention Information Line receives an average of 1,100 calls a week from people who want to (as the website says):
- Report an unsafe condition or situation in a workplace
- Request a worksite inspection consultation
- Get information about workplace health and safety issues
- Get information about the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation
- Report a serious accident/incident or major chemical release
“Our highest volume of calls comes from workers who have questions or concerns about health and safety practices in their workplace,” Angelo said. “Questions can range from ‘I have concerns about the work I am doing. Is it safe?’ or ‘Is my employer following the appropriate protocols with respect to health and safety?’”
The right to refuse unsafe work is entrenched in sections 3.12 and 3.13 of the OHS Regulation: Refusal of Unsafe Work. Section 3.12 reads, “A person must not carry out or cause to be carried out any work process or operate or cause to be operated any tool, appliance or equipment if that person has reasonable cause to believe that to do so would create an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person.” (Read more about refusing unsafe work on worksafebc.com.)
Calling the Prevention Information Line is a good first step for workers who are concerned.
“Any time you have concerns about workplace safety, please contact us,” said Angelo, sharing a message to anyone in need of information. “It is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and get clarification if you are concerned about a work-related injury occurring.”
Some calls are from the general public, when people see work practices that look unsafe.
“They want us to be informed so that injuries are avoided at worksites and to ensure both workers and employers are compliant with health and safety best practices,” he said.
Other calls come from employers and first responders to an injury or fatality.
“We also get calls from employers wanting to confirm if they’re compliant with certain safety regulations, as well as first responders — fire, ambulance, possibly the RCMP or other police jurisdictions — contacting us when they have been notified of a work-related fatality or serious injury,” he said.
A number of calls are about bullying and harassment, for which there have been new laws against since November 1, 2013. Between then and January 31, 2014, the Prevention Information Line has received 746 calls related to bullying and harassment, reports the May/June 2014 issue of WorkSafe Magazine. That’s an average of 57 calls a week — with 30 percent alleging a manager was bullying and 27 percent identifying a coworker.
The Prevention Information Line can be reached at 604 276-3100 in the Lower Mainland and 1 888 621-7233 toll-free within B.C. and Alberta. You can also call these numbers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to report fatal and serious injuries.