There has been a notice of public hearing from WorkSafe BC concerning a proposed amendment to section 4.18 – definition of “utility services”. For OH&S purposes, the three main types of closed-system utility services included are potable water lines, energy lines (petroleum, steam, and electrical power), and sanitary sewer lines. These can be summarized as: Water, Energy, Sewer.
As a result of consultation on the “utility service” definition, “steam line” has been added and “gas and oil” has been changed to, simply, “petroleum” to account for the full range of refined and unrefined petroleum products in both gaseous and liquid states (eg. jet fuel). “Storm sewer line” has been removed from the list since it has been represented that unlike the other utility services listed, storm sewers are open systems, therefore they cannot be breached in the same sense, and there is no significant safety threat to workers from hits or damage to them. They often consist of open ditches or culverts. Similarly, signal/communication lines have been removed from the list as WorkSafeBC has determined that breaches to these lines do not represent an immediate threat to workers in the same way that breaches to the named utility services do.
Should members of the Alliance take issue with any of the proposed changes, they are to send their comments to staff. Should the concerns be significant, staff will design a process and, if necessary, submit a response to WorkSafeBC.