On May 25 we held our annual public meeting — Core Connections 2023. We shared our latest initiatives, annual results, future plans, and how we are supporting people working in the safety system as we adapt to the impacts of climate change and economic uncertainties. There was also an opportunity to ask questions of our Executive team. Questions we couldn’t answer live are answered below.
The annual public meeting was followed by two breakout sessions. One on the topic of climate risks to technical systems, one on our approach to assessments.
If you didn’t have a chance to attend Core Connections 2023, you can watch the recorded sessions below.
Core Connections 2023
Learn about our latest initiatives, annual results, future plans, and how we are supporting people working in the safety system.
Breakout Session 1: Fire & Ice: Climate Risks to Technical Systems
In this session we demonstrate how climate risks are impacting the safety system by sharing case studies and examples of incidents. This is followed by a discussion on clients’ experiences related to climate events, as well as a question-and-answer period.
Breakout Session 2: Assessments: Using Technology to Enhance Safety at Scale
In this session we explain how we identify, evaluate, and prioritize technical safety risks, and how technology helps our decision making for safety oversight. This is followed by an opportunity for clients to provide feedback on our approach to assessments.
Questions and Answers From Core Connections 2023
Will the ED design portal be adapted for more than just B44 (i.e., lots not applicable to Z185, etc.)? Also, adapt applications to handle dual/twin Z185 applications currently require two separate applications with only notes to tie the applications together.
We are continuously improving our client portals, including expanding our options for Z185 hoists. We prioritize portal improvements based on use from our overall client base. If you find that your case is not fully supported, please reach out to our information management team at email@example.com. The team is keen to work with you to find a good solution. Currently, we need separate applications for multiple units which have different numbers and plates.
What is the long-term plan to address the design registration process and current backlog?
We are well underway to fully restoring service levels and turnaround times for design registration clients. Initially our clients were experiencing a 120-day turnaround time on average. Currently, the turnaround time is less than 60 days. We know this is still longer than our standard 30-day turnaround, and we thank our clients for their patience. We will continue to make further improvements through maintaining staffing levels and cross-training qualified people from other departments. In addition, we have redesigned our processes to increase efficiency and we will continue to use technology and update our information systems as appropriate.
Assessments & Inspections
Can we get the name of the app that was created and who it is targeted towards?
Our remote assessment mobile app (called Safety Check) is currently in development. Our first version is targeted towards elevating contractors and elevating mechanics for construction hoist extension inspections. Early results have shown an opportunity to cut remote inspection times by half for these systems. We hope to develop the app across all remote inspection opportunities over time.
How will Technical Safety BC address safety officer resourcing to make them more available during normal working hours for remote inspections?
We are in the process of evaluating safety officer resourcing, including engaging in comprehensive workforce planning to identify the optimal number of safety officers; training safety officers to enhance the existing workforce, and looking at options like flexible scheduling and partnerships. With remote assessments still under development, we are continuously looking for ways to improve the clients’ experience and better support access to real-time safety officers.
To clarify on the remote inspections for the Z 185, if Technical Safety is using the remote inspection process and is saving piles of money by not having the inspector go to the site, why has the price not dropped for it?
The greatest cost of any assessment, regardless of whether it is in-person or remote, is the time that our safety officers spend assessing the site for hazards. Technical Safety BC provides a mix of fee-based and non-fee-based services. Revenue from our fee-based services, such as permits, licences and certifications, is used to cover the cost of delivering those services as well as to support the cost of our non-fee-based services, such as incident investigations, public safety alerts for recalls or unsafe work, and code development and adoption.
We also use fees to support education, such as Tech Talks, and safety campaigns, such as raising awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide and stressing the importance of using licensed contractors for gas and electrical work. Lastly, our fee-based services, such as permitting, help us to fund and improve the infrastructure from which we deliver our services and to ensure we can adapt to the changing environment and operate effectively into the future.
What is the safety officer overtime rate based on? It is significantly higher compared to the normal hourly rates.
Safety Officers are compensated in accordance with the BCGEU collective agreement that aligns with the Province of British Columbia’s Employment Standards and Workplace Safety guidelines. To compensate our employees fairly, we pay overtime according to the collective agreement. Overtime is calculated based on multipliers (1.5x or 2x), depending on conditions stated in collective agreement and reflected in the fee schedule.
Is there an opportunity for Technical Safety BC to participate in the new provincial Permitting Strategy for Housing? If so, could this open an opportunity for a collaborative approach among Technical Safety BC and building officials to enhance compliance across safety and building regulations?
We have expressed to the Ministry of Housing that we are supportive of streamlining the process for issuing technology permits, especially for the electrical and gas technologies. In addition to Technical Safety BC’s oversight, in the Lower Mainland there are eight local governments that also have accountability for issuing electrical and/or gas permits. Presently, the focus of the Government’s initiative on improving permitting efficiency is on land use (i.e., development) permits. We also work closely with the Ministry of Housing in ensuring that the technology codes we are accountable for are aligned with the Building Code and that any gaps are addressed.
I understand Technical Safety BC oversees electrical / gas permit issuance outside certain Lower Mainland municipalities. Does Technical Safety BC have plans to develop a mechanical system permit process similar to the one required by the City of Vancouver (I understand North Shore municipalities are following suit)?
At this time, Technical Safety BC is not planning to introduce mechanical permits. We are aware of this work in other jurisdictions and are monitoring its progress.
Is there any real penalty for consumers or contractors not abiding by the permit process?
Yes, there are consequences for consumers and contractors who do comply with regulatory requirements. We have several tools, including compliance orders, discipline orders, monetary penalties, and license suspension and revocation, among others. You can learn more about our Compliance & Enforcement program, including how the enforcement process works on our website.
Licensed Contractors and Advertising Guidelines
You mentioned changing advertising requirements for licensed contractors—where can we get more information on this?
On September 6, 2022, changes to the Safety Standards General Regulation came into effect that require licensed contractors to publish their company name and Technical Safety BC licence number when advertising their services to the public. For more information on the new requirements, including guidelines for advertising, resources and frequently asked questions visit our website at technicalsafetybc.ca/regulatory-resources/codes-standards-regulations/advertising-guidelines. We also have a video overview on YouTube.
What powers do you have to audit BC home insurance companies to ensure compliance with regulated work quotes and regulated work inspections for the homeowner? Insurance companies will use an unlicensed home inspector and make up quotes for licensed trade work repairs. So far, your organization is powerless to stop the abuse of any homeowner. The worst punishment that a criminal unlicensed contractor will get is a warning.
Anyone who is doing regulated work is required to hire a licensed contractor. This applies to a home insurance company conducting regulated work. When an unlicensed individual performs regulated work or advertises that they can perform regulated work, we are able to use compliance and enforcement measures to better safety outcomes. We issue compliance orders and monetary penalties for more serious or repeated offences. If you are aware of an individual advertising or performing regulated work without a licence, we encourage you to report it to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technical Safety BC’s jurisdiction is limited to regulated equipment and regulated work. It does not extend to the relationship between home insurance companies and homeowners, and does not include authority over home inspectors, fire inspectors or fire investigations. For concerns about these types of issues, we suggest contacting the Consumer Protection BC or the BC Financial Services Authority.
Will Technical Safety BC reconsider its plan to require contractors to post their Technical Safety BC licence number on all vehicles starting Jan. 1, 2024? There is no reason to believe members of the public will actually cross-reference vehicle decals on Technical Safety BC's website to verify a company's licencing status. This will not reduce unlicensed work, which is the well-intended and important objective of the policy.
The purpose of these regulatory changes are to:
- Enable Technical Safety BC to identify and investigate cases of unlicensed contractors advertising regulated services so we can bring them into the safety system and into compliance. Additionally, to provide legal grounds for enforcement should they be unwilling to comply.
- Create fairness with the safety system and a sense of value to existing licensed contractors, who do comply with their regulatory responsibilities.
- Educate the public about the importance of licensed work and support them in finding licensed contractors and certified individuals to perform regulated work.
With the implementation of these new regulatory requirements, Technical Safety BC continues to develop and refine our investigation and enforcement approach to identifying and managing unlicensed and/or qualified individuals performing regulated work. We encourage all licensed contractors and members of the public to report cases of unlicensed, unqualified, or unpermitted work at 1 866 566 7233 or via our online form.
To further support the implementation of these requirements and the objectives above, Technical Safety BC developed and consulted with industry on a set of guidelines to support licensed contractors in advertising their services to the public to enable transparency and enhance the demand for licensed and qualified individuals. Technical Safety BC continues to connect with industry associations and groups regularly to understand the impact of these changes, what licensed contractors need to comply, and any barriers faced that we should be aware of. If you have further feedback or concerns you’d like to share with us, please email us at email@example.com.
Gas and Related Technologies
How does Engineers and Geoscientists BC consider the structure in oil and gas packaged equipment (i.e., are they considered in the same way as residential/commercial structures, or as mechanical structures)?
Our understanding of EGBC requirements is that many decisions around their applicability need to be made by engineers. If you encounter a specific issue that impacts work regulated under the Safety Standards Act, please contact us at so we can work with you on its resolution.
I am concerned at the enforcement of health and safety in the gas industry, which is constantly changing with new technology. I have worked with techs that obtained their ticket 20 years ago and have no knowledge of current regs. I would propose the gas certification system needs upgrading and I would like to forward some safety proposals in a separate meeting. Would this be possible please?
We believe it’s important for certified individuals to maintain current knowledge of the technologies they work in through continued professional development. If you have specific concerns with knowledge gaps that you believe exist in the gas certification program, we encourage you to share these with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The industry is moving to install Hydrogen fuels as a significant addition to oil and gas. Will Technical Safety BC be implementing any new regulations to ensure safety in handing hydrogen?
The safe handling and management of hydrogen is currently regulated by Technical Safety BC and other organizations in BC. The potential use of hydrogen within existing gas systems is a topic we are actively working with industry and other regulatory bodies to understand and identify the most appropriate safety practices to adopt in BC. The adoption of hydrogen and how the regulations and codes can be used to provide safety oversight will be part of future regulatory engagement activities.
I am an electrical contractor and we have been working on several electric vehicle (EV) charging projects across the Lower Mainland. The city of Vancouver and some other municipalities require engineered drawings for these projects similar to any commercial project in addition to the EV ready plan. Is this a requirement in areas under Technical Safety BC jurisdiction as well?
We are currently working on further clarification around the requirements for engineered drawings for EV stations in areas where we provide regulatory oversight. This part of the electrical technology has seen so many changes and we appreciate the inquiry about it.
Boilers, Pressure Vessels, and Refrigeration & Elevating
Are there any thoughts or considerations for the implementation of residential air conditioning, furnaces, or heat pump permits? Is Technical Safety BC considering providing oversight of refrigerant leaks at the time of installation and commissioning, given that many refrigerants are potent greenhouse gas emissions with high global warming potential?
As natural refrigerants are coming out to fit into green initiatives, they have a higher toxicity and flammability. Are there going to be any checks or regulations for the use of these within residential applications?
Technical Safety BC is engaged with stakeholders and the government on this topic. We have been assessing the skills, permit requirements and emerging safety risks that could result from the introduction and increased adoption of low-emission technologies. We are evaluating how effective oversight can be achieved given all the changes happening in this industry. We will consult with industry as changes are being considered.
Will we still be able to renew our hoist tickets over the phone?
Our client experience team will continue to renew hoist tickets over the phone. It should be noted that response times do vary, and individuals should allow ample time for the renewal process.
Can you discuss any policy gaps that Technical Safety BC has identified and recommended for government action? How does Technical Safety BC handle conflicts or disagreements with government policies or decisions?
We serve as technical advisers to the provincial government related to the technologies we regulate. As a part of our role, we identify safety gaps in the applicable codes or regulations, and in most cases will recommend relevant amendments for the government to consider. However, not all observed safety gaps require a regulatory response. Sometimes we work with our industry partners to support industry-led initiatives, such as our work with the Canada West Ski Areas Association in addressing the challenges of physical security and cyber security impacting above surface passenger ropeways. Additionally, there are situations where the government calls on Technical Safety BC to explore the need for regulation in a particular area, like trampoline courts, following the death of a father at a facility in Richmond. Technical Safety BC takes the position that “safety” is not political. As such, our input to government is presented as technical recommendations or advice. The ultimate decision or policy direction the government chooses to make or take based on our advice or recommendation is at their discretion.
Client Service and Complaints
Technical Safety BC's telephone complaint system no longer works - web portal complaints only - this is not advertised to the public. My opinion is that the web portal system is not public friendly. You must be a trades person to navigate. Homeowners are left lost.
We continue to take complaints over the telephone. Recently, clients may have been experiencing longer than normal wait times to get through to our client experience representatives. We are in the process of clearing up a backlog of activities caused by the introduction of our new permitting system, and are lowering wait times each week.
We understand this is a poor experience and not what you are used to receiving from us. We sincerely apologize for these delays. Thank you for your patience as we work to serve you as quickly as possible. More information is available under the Contact Us section of our website.
If you are looking to report unsafe work performed by a contractor or see something that you believe to be hazardous or unsafe, please Report an Incident to us or call 1 866 566 7233.
About Technical Safety BC
How many people are employed by Technical Safety BC?
We currently have 440 employees at Technical Safety BC. Of those employees, 156 are safety officers, and 44 employees are client experience representatives.