It may seem strange for bylaw officers to have to wear hard hats as they write parking tickets, but those are the rules.
And rules are rules.
When Whitehorse reviewed the territorial safety regulations, it found bylaw staffers were breaking the law by not wearing hard hats.
“We’re an enforcement agency,” said Dave Pruden, the city’s manger of bylaw services. “We can’t decide not to abide by a law.”
Under the occupational health and safety regulations anyone working in the road must wear a hard hat.
It isn’t the danger of head injuries from disgruntled motorists seeking revenge for a parking fine, or even careless drivers, it’s a visibility issue said Kurt Dieckmann, the director of occupational health and safety for the Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board.
It wouldn’t be a problem if Yukoners had licence plates on the front of their cars, but because bylaw officers routinely have to walk in between cars to check licence plates they have to wear ‘high visibility safety apparel,” said Dieckmann.
For the last few years bylaw officers had been wearing orange baseball caps, but those don’t conform to the law.
“Our regulations are, unfortunately, very prescriptive in what constitutes high visibility safety apparel,” said Dieckmann. “For anything other than a hard hat you need a variance.”
Bylaw is planning on applying for a variance.
Bylaw officers aren’t “overly happy” with the requirement, said Pruden.
He’s consulting with the officers to have them help come up with the solution.
“I could go and pick something for them, but it’s better if they choose it,” he said. “If they choose it they’re more likely to come up with the rationale for agreeing with it and abiding by it.”
Consulting with staff is also part of the process of applying for a variance.
They also have to do a hazard assessment, and prove their solution mitigates the risks at least as well as the current regulation.
“When the regulations were done, we did realize that there were a number of areas where strict compliance with the law either wasn’t possible or wasn’t practical,” said Dieckmann. “That’s why we built in an ability for an employer to apply for a variance.”
While it may seem a little absurd in this case, the process is important, he said.
“We have to be able to explain to other employers who may be doing work on the side of the road who say, ‘Bylaw isn’t wearing hard hats. Why do we have to wear hard hats?’
“You have to go through the process.”
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