Compliance & Enforcement Program
AS PART OF OUR WORK TO PROMOTE SAFE TECHNICAL SYSTEMS IN BC AND REDUCE RISKS, TECHNICAL SAFETY BC HAS TAKEN A CENTRALIZED APPROACH TO MANAGING NON-COMPLIANCES. THIS MEANS ALL COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY IS CONDUCTED BY A DEDICATED PROGRAM TEAM, USING STANDARDIZED PROCEDURES APPLIED CONSISTENTLY ACROSS ALL TECHNOLOGIES AND AREAS OF THE PROVINCE.
The goals of our compliance and enforcement program are:
- encouraging a culture of safety among safety system participants through deterrence by demonstrating that action will be taken against those who are non-compliant.
- Promoting a culture of fairness by reducing the competitive advantage of those who choose to operate outside the safety system or in a non-compliant
- Fostering awareness of regulatory responsibilities through outreach and education.
- Prompting behavioral change among those who have been subject to enforcement action and across industry as a whole.
Our compliance and enforcement program is proactively engaged in identifying work happening outside the safety system, in order to reduce the presence of safety hazards and create a level playing field for duty holders who meet their regulatory responsibilities.
By increasing participation across the safety system we are able to collect, analyze, and understand a broader array of safety data in order to gain a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of risks and hazards.
To understand the risks and hazards associated with the wide range of technical systems within the province, duty holders must actively participate in the safety system. The responsibility for safety belongs to us all.
The compliance and enforcement program at Technical Safety BC is comprised of three main functions:
1) identifying and investigating non-compliant equipment and practices; 2) working with contractors and certified individuals to resolve non-compliances; and, 3) taking enforcement action when necessary.
Investigation and Compliance Auditing
A key part of the compliance and enforcement program’s work is identifying non-compliances. Using research and analytics, Technical Safety BC identifies regulated work being performed and equipment being operated outside the safety system and targets investigation activities towards high-risk, non-compliant activities.
In 2016 and 2017, the compliance and enforcement program expanded the use of compliance audits as a tool to investigate duty holders operating outside of the safety system to better understand what drives their non-compliant behaviour. This process involves conducting a comprehensive review of a duty holder’s business records to validate the extent of their compliance.
The focus of non-compliance management is education leading to behaviour change. When non-compliances are identified, our first step is often to work with duty holders to help them understand their obligations, and provide them with a clear pathway to resolution. In approaching this work, we seek to understand what barriers might have prevented initial compliance. The barriers might be a lack of understanding of regulatory requirements, or administrative processes that make compliance difficult or confusing. Understanding the underlying problem helps Technical Safety BC identify opportunities to simplify processes and clarify regulatory requirements through our communications and education programs.
Our goal is to work collaboratively with duty holders to help them meet their regulatory responsibilities. Despite these efforts, there are instances where enforcement action is required. Technical Safety BC considers a broad range of factors before taking enforcement action in any given case. When enforcement action is deemed necessary, our goal is to take actions that are effective, predictable, and consistent.
Compliance and Enforcement Tools
To achieve the desired outcome of compliance, Technical Safety BC uses the following compliance and enforcement tools:
Compliance orders are a statutory enforcement tool defined under the Safety Standards Act. They are issued to a duty holder by a safety manager or safety officer and order actions to be taken, stopped, or modified.
Discipline orders are a statutory enforcement tool defined under the Safety Standards Act. They are issued to a duty holder by a safety manager and may require action be taken by the duty holder and/or place restrictions on a licence and/or qualification as a means to establish compliance.
Monetary penalties are defined under the Safety Standards Act, and are issued to a duty holder by a safety manager to promote behaviour change.
Surety Bond Calls
Surety bonds are financial guarantees required to obtain both gas and electrical contractor licences. In certain circumstances a safety manager may “call the bond,” requiring the funds to be applied to correct the non- compliances.
A warning notice is a notification issued to a duty holder that identifies non-compliance, confirms regulatory responsibility, and outlines potential consequences of continued non-compliance.
Evolving Approaches to Compliance and Enforcement
Over the past two years, Technical Safety BC has significantly increased our resource commitment to compliance and enforcement activities. This has led to the creation of a more efficient and effective centralized compliance and enforcement program.
Creating a dedicated program area has resulted in greater consistency in our compliance and enforcement practices across technologies and throughout the province. It has also allowed us to engage in proactive compliance research and to refine our compliance tools, such as increased penalties for repeat non-compliances and new fees that deter non-compliant behaviour.
At the same time, we have increased our investment in new data analytics and assessment tools. This includes use of machine learning to more effectively deploy safety officers to high hazard sites, and using comparative analytics to identify when and where non-compliant work is taking place and who is carrying out that work.
WE PROMOTE PARTICIPATION IN AND CONNECTION TO THE SAFETY SYSTEM BY PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE, FAIR, AND TRANSPARENT DETERRENT TO NON-COMPLIANT BEHAVIOUR.
In an effort to bring people into the safety system, Technical Safety BC has employed new and innovative approaches to identify unlicensed contractors, including conducting comparative analysis of third party data, such as WorkSafeBC records. We have also used online sources to identify unlicensed work, including social media and online community forums. As a result of this work, 24% of enforcement actions taken in 2017 involved unlicensed contractors who were doing regulated work.
Given the significant hazards associated with work done without required permits, Technical Safety BC has made targeted efforts to identify and eliminate “un-permitted” work. In 2017, we identified 4,011 instances of work done without a required permit, a 26% increase over 2016. Once this work is identified, compliance and enforcement team members work with duty holders to ensure the necessary permits are taken out, to rectify technical non-compliances, and to help the duty holder better understand their obligations going forward.
To promote increased compliance knowledge among duty holders and the consumers who engage their services, Technical Safety BC launched a public awareness media campaign in 2016. The campaign featured print advertising and social media reminders that Safety Matters, Licences Matter, Permits Matter, and Compliance Matters.
Moving forward, we will continue to refine these messages and develop additional strategies to identify and remediate non-compliances, and increase our outreach efforts to inform and educate duty holders. Our activities for 2018 and beyond include:
• Expanding our networks and data sharing efforts with other agencies and
• Prioritization of contractor audits and publication of publication and communication of enforcement activities.
• Increased frequency of publication and communication of enforcement
• Development of educational tools for contractors and certificate holders.
An Equal Opportunity Approach to Compliance
A compliance and enforcement program must be fair and balanced. At Technical Safety BC, we strive to treat all contractors, regardless of size and scope of work, equally and fairly.
Throughout the province there are contractors of all sizes, who perform varied aspects of regulatory work. Whether it is a firm of one or 10,000 employees, unionized or open shop, we apply our compliance and enforcement strategies impartially.
To this end, we use a number of approaches that help us target non-compliance among small, medium, and large organizations:
• We check social media and online marketplaces (such as Craigslist) to see if unqualified individuals are advertising regulated work.
• We have implemented data sharing agreements with local governments to track non-compliant work across jurisdictions.
• We obtain sales records from wholesalers to help us better understand who buys regulated products and where they are installed.
By having a wide range of tools at our disposal, we can uncover non-compliant behaviour across a full spectrum of companies – and take action accordingly.