Health, Safety, and Compensation
Every worker deserves to return home from work healthy and safe every day. Every worker has the right to full and complete compensation for workplace injury and disease.
These principles underpin one of the B.C. Federation of Labour’s fundamental objectives – protecting the health, safety and well-being of all workers in BC and ensuring full compensation for injured and ill workers. Due to this objective, the BCFED is recognized by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the provincial government as a major stakeholder for workers in workplace health and safety issues in British Columbia.
“For better or worse, the compensation system was wrenched from the employers and their governments by massive public protests over outrages such as the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911...Any discussion of changes or improvements in the field of health and safety must be predicated by an understanding that there has never been a time when safety and politics were not linked.”
This quote was taken from the BCFED’s (then named) Compensation and Safety Committee’s report to the Convention of 1977. This statement continues to hold true and provides the basis for the BCFED’s ongoing focus and action on workplace health and safety.
The BCFED furthers its objectives with respect to occupational health and safety in a variety of ways:
- The BCFED is consulted by the provincial government on the appointment of the workers’ representative to the WCB’s Board of Directors.
- The BCFED provides advice and direction to our affiliated unions and members, government, and employers, on health and safety at work and the rights of injured workers.
- The BCFED engages in political action to advance workers’ health and safety rights in British Columbia, employer workplace health and safety accountability, and to improve the Workers Compensation Act and the administration of the workers' compensation system.
- The BCFED appoints four representatives to sit on the WCB’s Policy and Practice Consultative Committee which provides input and advice to WCB’s senior executive.
- The BCFED is involved in all levels of the consultation process for proposed changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the WCB’s policies, practices, initiatives and programs.
- The BCFED is routinely invited to make submissions to the Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal in appeals considering the lawfulness of WCB policies, pursuant to Section 251 of the Workers Compensation Act.
- The BCFED engages in public education – advocating for improvements in occupational health and safety and compensation for injured and ill – through published reports, news media, and public events such as the National Day of Mourning.
BCFED Health & Safety Centre
Funded by the BC Workers’ Compensation Board, the BCFED Health & Safety Centre has evolved into a Centre of excellence for Occupational Health and Safety training in British Columbia, and the largest provider of health and safety training in the Province.
The BCFED Health & Safety Centre was established to train worker and employer representatives of Joint Health & Safety Committees so they could act with confidence and competence on their considerable legal rights and responsibilities as provided by occupational health and safety law.
Our one-day courses qualify for the eight-hour annual education leave that joint committee members are entitled to as per Section 135 of the Workers Compensation Act. In our efforts to remove traditional barriers to Health and Safety education, we have also developed programs for Young Workers, Immigrant Workers (ESL) and Migrant Workers.
For more information visit http://www.healthandsafetybc.ca/
Occupational Health & Safety Standing Committee
The BCFED’s Occupational Health & Safety Standing Committee, established by our Constitution, consists of representatives from each of our affiliates. This Committee of health and safety experts meets regularly to address health and safety related matters, including identifying emerging issues; developing campaigns, conferences, political action and other initiatives to advance occupational health and safety issues; and coordinating responses to the WCB proposed regulatory or policy changes.
National Day of Mourning – April 28
Every year thousands of people gather around the world on April 28th to observe the National Day of Mourning.
The purpose of Day of Mourning is twofold – to remember and honour those lives lost or injured because of their work and to renew the commitment to prevent further deaths, injuries and diseases by improving health and safety in the workplace.
April 28th is observed in many different ways around the world.
Find out how the Day of Mourning is honoured in British Columbia
Learn more about History of the National Day of Mourning
Injured Workers Day – June 1
June 1 is Injured Workers Day. The BCFED notes this day every year as a reminder that the best workers’ compensation systems and rehabilitation services in the world can only mitigate the harm of workplace injury and disease – they cannot offset the damage to the whole person. We cannot ignore or deny the economic hardship, pain, suffering and loss that are often the consequence of workplace injury and disease.
It is no coincidence that unionized workers have a strong interest in occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation issues. A primary reason for workers forming a union is out of concern for health and safety conditions. Despite a general perception that workplace health and safety has faded as a motive for organizing, our research indicates that concern about workplace health and safety remains a key reason for organizing. It follows that union representation tends to be more heavily concentrated in higher-risk sectors in the province.
Workplace health and safety has always been an intrinsic part of the labour relations environment in British Columbia. Indeed, the roots of the first Royal Commission in Workers’ Compensation in British Columbia can be traced to the Nanaimo coal miners’ strike over gas leaks in the collieries in 1912. Now, as then, health, safety and compensation for injury and disease are inseparable from the array of labour relations issues in any workplace, and have a profound impact on the quality of labour relations in the province.
At the 1977 Convention, the focus of the BCFED Compensation and Safety Committee was amended to include occupational environmental issues and outlined the responsibility to prevent industrial disease and injury – prevention first, compensation second.