In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Technical Safety BC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have issued two exemptions to regulatory requirements for provincially-regulated railways. These exemptions are consistent with changes for federally-regulated railways that came into effect on March 20, 2020.
Railway Safety Guidelines
Technical Safety BC’s Railway Safety Program has instituted a remote audit process to continue regulating the general railway safety standards for the protection of the public while being guided by WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 and returning to safe operation - Phase 2. WorkSafeBC administers the workers’ compensation system in British Columbia and promotes the prevention of workplace injury, illness, and disease.
We have a phased approach to our remote audit process.
- Currently, in the first phase, we will audit smaller low risk facilities. This allows us to test out the audit process and make the necessary adjustments before we start to tackle both the larger and higher risk facilities.
- The process involves a request for documentation in order to determine compliance, and a follow up phone call to discuss status and areas of concern or noncompliance.
When we are able to resume our physical audit process, we will be directed by the following:
- Technical Safety BC’s COVID-19 Inspection Guidelines,
- WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 Information and Processes, and
- the COVID-19 procedures of each individual site.
During this time, you can stay up-to-date with WorkSafeBC’s transportation and COVID-19 safety protocols. Additionally, we recommend the following measures be considered by our railway clients:
- Identify risk areas
- Worker areas
- Common areas such as meeting rooms, washrooms, and lunch rooms
- Common surfaces such as door handles and light switches
- Areas of interaction with the public
- Passenger areas
- Inside rail cars
- Elevators and escalators, and related common surfaces
- Worker areas
- Suggested actions
- Train staff on new policies and procedures
- Sanitize common areas in a station
- Frequently clean trains and common surfaces
- Apply practicable crowd control measures within a train car (blocking seats, barriers etc.)
- Apply practicable crowd control measures on a station such as buffer zones to maintain distancing during loading/unloading
- Provide hand sanitizing stations where practicable
- Post occupancy limit signage in stations and rail cars
- Use signage and monitors to communicate social distancing, hand washing and other pertinent messages
- Post COVID-19 safety plan
Exemption to medical rules for positions critical to safe rail operations
If I need a medical assessment during the Covid-19 pandemic, what should I know?
During April 22, 2020 to November 1, 2020, employees in positions critical to safe rail operation are not required to complete their medical assessments. Railway companies must keep a record of each employee whose medical assessment was postponed. Although medical assessment is temporarily not required, it continues to be the responsibility of rail companies to ensure all railway personnel are fit for duty.
Exemption to periodic employee training and recertification requirements
If my certification expires during the COVID-19 pandemic, what should I know?
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, along with Technical Safety BC, is allowing a temporary extension for rail employees whose certifications are expiring between April 22, 2020 and November 1, 2020. These employees are not required to undergo recertification or re-examination at this time. However, railway companies must keep a record of the extended recertification and re-examination dates for each applicable employee. It is also the responsibility of railway companies to ensure their employees have the necessary knowledge to safely perform their duties.