To support a fair and balanced approach to our enforcement program, Technical Safety BC launched the Voluntary Disclosure Program in 2019. This new program enables contractors who may have been operating outside of the safety system to assess their own compliance and comply with the regulations, without incurring enforcement action. Using the Voluntary Disclosure Program contractors could avoid costly penalties.
The strength of our compliance and enforcement initiatives comes from our ability to not only issue various regulatory instruments but also to collect, analyze and action data to promote safety outcomes.
In 2018, our Compliance and Enforcement team discovered that some gas contractors were incorrectly entering both the numeric value for British Thermal Units and the permit class for residential multi-unit dwellings. For example, a gas installation in a residential multi-unit dwellings still requires a commercial permit class if the equipment is being installed in a shared space. These errors resulted in incorrect job values for installation permit applications, which contractors then had to correct by submitting and paying for a Permit Value Amendment and, in some cases, incurring an enforcement action.
To address this issue, a study took place that identified three key barriers to compliance:
- Permit requirements were not intuitive;
- There was too much information to read and understand; and
- The cost of multi-unit residential installation permits were cheaper and provided an incentive to provide misinformation.
To correct the issue, Technical Safety BC implemented the following changes:
- A clear description of permit requirements on the fee schedule and permit application;
- Data validation fields on the online permit application form to prevent clients from entering incorrect values; and
- Built-in logic to the online permit application form to help clients correctly select the permit class type based on the scope of work.
We found that these adjustments were effective, as incorrect undervalued permits taken out by contractors have significantly decreased.
In recognizing non-compliance trends and identifying barriers for clients, we can continue to develop compliance and enforcement solutions that support both safety and those who we regulate.