The BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) department is assisting the Environmental, Technical & Operational (Component 20) with the appeal process of the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work.
Recently, two Natural Resource Officers (NRO) refused unsafe work due to the lack of adequate training, tools, policies and procedures. Prior to these latest two unsafe work refusals, two other NRO's had also refused unsafe work. The first refusal resulted in Orders being issued and the second refusal was abandoned as the officer left his job. NRO's are expected to conduct Natural Resource Law Enforcement which includes conducting compliance checks and enforcement actions on the regulated community as well as the general public.
It is the interactions with the general public, or unknown risk in a perceived law enforcement capacity that create the highest risk for NRO’s. NRO’s are commonly mistaken for other law enforcement officers such as Conservation Officers, Police officers, and Sheriffs, all of whom are fully armed and have the power of arrest and detention.
Legislation in the NRO mandate, such as the Off-Road Vehicle Act, has and will result in NRO’s being put in situations where the likelihood of a spontaneous confrontation can occur
Many Compliance & Enforcement (C & E) activities on the general public have been ranked as high or very high risk by the employer, yet the employer has still not implemented most of its own recommendations or mitigation strategies. There have been many incidents that have fortunately not resulted in injuries to NRO’s, but it will only be a matter of time before an NRO suffers grievous bodily harm and possibly even death should this work continue without the necessary training and tools.
The BCGEU will be giving updates on the appeal process and wants Component 20, and the general membership, to know that they do have the right to refuse unsafe work. You can contact your area office staff rep or the OHS officers if you require assistance with the refusal of unsafe work. Any questions, or for more information, please contact the BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety department at OHS@bcgeu.ca
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