Have you considered an alternate safety approach?

Two men

As of the first quarter of 2012, four companies are actively pursuing safety management plans through the new, optional Alternative Safety Approaches (ASA) program, which came into effect on April 1, 2011 and which is administered by the BC Safety Authority. Ten other companies are in discussions with the BC Safety Authority and are considering implementation of an ASA option at their facilities.

The ASA was included in changes to the Safety Standards Act approved by the provincial government of British Columbia in 2010. The program gives owners and operators of regulated products an alternative method to prescriptive regulation to effectively manage safety. An ASA provides flexibility by treating safety as an integrated whole instead of simply complying with a series of prescriptive requirements.

“An alternative safety approach is an opportunity for many businesses to achieve safe outcomes in a more streamlined and efficient manner, particularly if a company is looking at a totally new project or considering a substantial redesign of existing operations,” says Pearse Walsh, the BC Safety Authority’s Leader of Business Research and Development.

There are two options available under the ASA program:

  • A safety management plan which applies to the safety of an entire facility and allows for significant substitution or equivalency to prescriptive regulations across one or more of the following technologies: boilers, pressure vessels and refrigeration, electrical and gas.
  • An equivalent standard approach which allows for limited equivalency or substitution of a regulation in one of the three technologies noted above.

“Safety remains the top consideration under the ASA options even as we look at aligning safety with advances in technology and best practices,” says Walsh. “The ASA program allows opportunities for trade and investments and encourages companies to develop a strong safety culture.”

The four companies actively pursuing an ASA approach are now developing safety management plans for their projects and facilities under the Alternative Safety Approaches program.

“The safety management plans give these companies an opportunity to take a performance-based approach towards safety compliance,” adds Walsh. “The BC Safety Authority is using a robust auditing practice to support their process.”

The 10 other companies looking at ASA options represent a variety of industries including oil and gas, pulp and paper, and bioenergy.

At the BC Safety Authority we keep people safe. As the province’s delegated authority, we mandate the safe installation and use of technical equipment, and continuously assess the risk to human safety that comes with that installation and operation. We are self-funded and not-for-profit. We administer safety standards through education, and through issuing permits and licences. We also enforce compliance to standards to ensure consistency and fairness, and conduct assessments – particularly inspections of high-risk situations. We continuously research trends to advance the standard of safe practices in our province.

For more information about the Alternative Safety Approaches program, visit http://safetyauthority.ca/permits-approvals/alternative-safety-approaches or email Pearse.Walsh@safetyauthority.ca.

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