Compliance & Enforcement Case Studies


Case Study 1:

Mining WorkSafeBC Data To Increase Participation in The Safety System

As a part of Technical Safety BC’s objective to increase participation in the safety system, we took a novel approach to identifying non-compliant individuals by conducting a comparative study of WorkSafeBC’s data.

As part of the study, Technical Safety BC submitted a Freedom of Information request to WorkSafeBC requesting a list of registered businesses classified as part of the refrigeration industry. By cross-referencing this list with our own registry of licensed contractors, we discovered that of the 296 companies registered with WorkSafeBC, 127 did not hold a valid refrigeration contractor licence.

This effort represented a major step forward in efficiently and cost effectively identifying irregularities in the safety system and potential unlicensed contractors. As a starting point for understanding these discrepancies, we randomly selected 25% of the companies identified (32 of the 127) and performed a series of investigations. Of the 32 companies sampled, we were able to demonstrate that 37% were non- compliant with the regulations.

Importantly, this work not only gave us insight into where participation in the safety system was lacking, but also provided an opportunity to educate individuals and bring them into the safety system. Of the 37% identified as non-compliant, all have now applied for contractor licences.

Based on the success of this work, we are now following up with the remaining companies on the list. As a next step in promoting participation, Technical Safety BC is also requesting records from wholesalers to determine who has purchased regulated equipment and where the equipment and systems are being installed. The hope is that with more information we can reach more people operating outside of the safety system and drive up participation across the province.

Case Study 2:

Using Compliance Audits to Improve Connection to the Safety System

Increasing connection to the safety system means making sure that duty holders are taking the actions required of them, including pulling the necessary permits. As a part of Technical Safety BC’s objective to increase participation in the safety system, we have expanded the use of compliance audits, including performing a recent audit on a licensed gas contractor after irregularities were identified in their work.

Technical Safety BC was alerted to discrepancies in the contractor’s work during a review of gas utility records, which identified several instances where regulated gas work was performed without a permit. As this contractor had previous instances of completing work without the required permits, the contractor was selected for an audit to determine if this behaviour was systemic.

Technical Safety BC issued a compliance order requiring the contractor to submit to a compliance audit and produce records. A systematic audit of two years’ worth of records revealed:

 368 instances where regulated gas work was performed without the required permit.
 Instances of regulated electrical work performed without a licence.
 Instances of regulated electrical and gas work being performed by unqualified individuals.

Taking an audit-based approach allowed Technical Safety BC to efficiently identify a pattern of non-compliant behaviour and require that the contractor obtain the avoided permits. This allowed for those permits to be assessed, as per Technical Safety BC policy and procedures, to identify whether the work had been performed to required safety standards. It also eliminated any financial advantage the contractor might have received from performing work without the required permits. The contractor was additionally ordered to stop performing regulated work without the appropriate licence and qualifications — an important step for public safety which could not have been reached as expediently without an analytical approach to non- compliance identification.

Perhaps more importantly, effective compliance and enforcement action not only rectifies past issues, but also helps to influence future behaviour.

A review of the audit data showed that, prior to the audit, this contractor was purchasing permits at a rate of 0.3 permits per month (PPM). This was significantly less than a typical company of this size, configuration, and geographical location, which would normally pull permits at a rate of 10.61 PPM. A year after the audit, this contractor is now pulling permits at a rate of 21.21 PPM — a 7,000% increase in the contractor’s participation in the safety system compared to the pre-audit rate.

Not only did the compliance audit help identify permit avoidance, but also provided a key opportunity for Technical Safety BC to provide one-on-one education and influence future behaviour.

Case Study 3:

Using Past Data to Unearth Trends

Technical Safety BC knows that some contractors purposefully avoid taking out permits on smaller, less visible jobs. Audits provide an opportunity to expose and correct this type of behaviour.

One compliance audit revealed that an electrical contractor took out 559 permits in the 2016-2017 period, but failed to take out another 332 required permits during the same period. Of the 332 instances of work done without a permit, 320 (96%) were for less-visible service and renovation jobs, while only 12 (4%) were for more-visible commercial work. However, of the 559 permits that were taken out, 308 were for service work and renovations, so it is clear the contractor knew of the requirement to take out permits for this type of work but chose not to do so in many instances.

Service and renovation work is performed on sites where Technical Safety BC has restricted visibility. While there are some cases where a contractor may be legitimately unsure if a permit is required, the onus is on them to seek clarification on the requirements and comply with the law.

Following the audit by Technical Safety BC, this contractor is now compliant and our data shows they are obtaining 230% more permits for regulated work.