B.C. exploring all resources to improve forest road safety

RICHMOND, B.C. — As traffic increased on B.C.’s forest roads over the years, so have the problems.

Safety practices haven’t kept pace with the rapid expansion of users and uses of the resource road network, which spans 400,000 kilometers in the province. And, WorkSafeBC is going to do something about it.

The provincial safety agency recently introduced the Resource Roads Safety Demonstration Project. It’s an initiative designed to improve safety for workers who travel along B.C.’s resource roads.

Resource roads are not considered public highways and are commonly known as ‘logging roads,’ ‘industrial roads,’ ‘forest service roads,’ and ‘petroleum development roads.’

“There have been too many serious injuries and fatalities on these roads,” said Betty Pirs, WorkSafeBC’s executive director of prevention. “With better communication and understanding of who is responsible for health and safety on resource roads, we believe these numbers will come down.”

For many years, resource roads were built to access remote locations for a single user such as a forest company who constructed, maintained, and operated on the road. Today, a variety of industries and the general public often share that same road. As the number of users on existing resource roads increases, so does the number of roads built to accommodate the expansion of oil and gas, mining, and tree salvaging operations as a result of the pine beetle infestation.

Resource roads aren’t just for hauling logs to
the mill anymore and safety is a top priority.

The Demonstration Project coordinates and builds upon the work that industry and others have been able to achieve to date, and adds a necessary component of shared responsibility for safety on the road systems.

One project area will be on a network of roads in the Prince George Forest District where industrial activity is primarily forestry-based. The other project area is near Fort St. John (southwest of Chetwynd) where the primary industry is oil and gas.

WorkSafeBC and industrial stakeholders will work to improve best practices and find solutions to safety concerns.

The demonstration project plans to:
– Clarify health and safety responsibilities of owners, prime contractors, employers, and workers/drivers applicable to resource road systems;
– Identify safety concerns/issues about road use, design, construction, and maintenance;
– Establish road safety groups to address management and usage
– Address report recommendations from the Auditor General and Forest Safety Ombudsman;
– Develop systems/srv/bindings/b2c45723e430478690496ed66cd46cfb/coderoaches to safely manage and coordinate road use;
– Demonstrate practical approaches to communicate safety information;
– Explore partnerships that can make resource roads safer;
– And examine the effectiveness of new technologies, methods, and tools that lead to the reduction of serious injuries and fatalities

Once complete, the Demonstration Project report will provide two examples of how safety responsibilities can be managed on resource roads and explore how new technologies may improve safety for users. The final report will be the basis for developing a provincial resource road strategy.
 

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