Surrey (June 2, 2021): The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes the amendments to Part 8 of the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation (OHSR) relating to safety headgear. Section 8.11 of the OHSR required safety headgear to be worn in any work area where there is a danger of head injury however the regulation was being applied as a blanket requirement resulting in Sikh workers who wear the dastaar (turban) being excluded from workplaces, even where accommodation was possible.
The amendments to OHSR clarify that employers must conduct a risk assessment and attempt to remove and eliminate any risks before requiring hardhats on worksites. The amendments open the door to dastaar-wearing Sikh workers being accommodated on worksites where the risk of head injury can be removed.
The WSO has regularly advocated for the accommodation of turbaned Sikh workers on worksites in BC and across Canada in the wake of increasingly common blanket hardhat policies. The WSO was part of the initial presentation to the BC Government in 2018 that led to the current amendment and also provided submissions during the consultation process.
WSO legal counsel, Balpreet Singh, said today,
“The amendments by WorkSafeBC to the OHS regulations are a welcome step forward towards the accommodation of the dastaar on BC worksites. There have been increasingly broad hardhat policies on many worksites which excluded dastaar-wearing Sikhs even where there was no reason to do so.
These changes will benefit not just Sikhs but all workers in BC as employers must now work to eliminate the risk of injury with engineering and administrative controls and not simply try to minimize injury through the use of PPE.
We appreciate that these amendments will be a change for both employers and workers and the period between now and the effective date of September 1, 2021 will be critical. We look forward to working with WorkSafeBC and other stakeholders to ensure that the necessary training and resources are made available to make the roll out of these new regulations a success.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals.