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Increased worker safety the result of resource roads pilot project

Prince George, B.C., July 14, 2009 — Today, recommendations based on the findings of the Resource Roads Demonstration Project are being released. Focused on improving worker safety on resource roads, the Project was conducted in the Prince George forestry region and the oil and gas fields southeast of Fort St. John.

B.C. has more than 600,000 kilometres of resource roads, commonly known as “logging roads,” “forest service roads,” “petroleum development roads,” or “industrial roads” that are used to access remote parts of the province. While built primarily to support industry, the public frequently uses these roads for recreational purposes.

The Project focused on the organization and implementation of a management structure to provide a system of coordination and a process of safety compliance for users of the defined road systems.

“This government is committed to maintaining high safety standards to protect both forest workers and the public,” said Pat Bell, Minister of Forests and Range. “These new road safety committees are the latest in a series of initiatives to improve safety on Forest Service roads, which include speed enforcement through expanded use of radar guns and funding for repair and upgrades.”

Over a 10-year period (1999 to 2009), motor vehicle incidents have claimed 68 lives in the Forestry and Oil/Gas industries; 53 percent of those fatalities were on resource roads. The most common types of vehicles involved in resource road fatalities are log trucks (47 percent) and pickup trucks/crummy vans (41 percent). The most frequent type of collisions was rollovers, accounting for nearly 64 percent of fatalities.

“WorkSafeBC and its partners believe fewer workers will be killed or seriously injured on resource roads as a result of this project,” said Betty Pirs, WorkSafeBC’s Executive Director of Prevention. “We are committed to working with our government and industry partners to implement the recommendations across the province.”

Recommendations made to WorkSafeBC, the Ministry of Forests and Range, the BC Forest Safety Council, Enform, and employers who require workers to travel on resource roads focus on:

  • Road Safety Management Committees being established throughout the province as the administrative structure for safety on resource roads
  • WorkSafeBC taking a leadership role to ensure any system put in place for road administration is compliant with the Workers Compensation Act
  • New technology being reviewed and used appropriately by all road users
  • Electronic stability control becoming a standard on light duty trucks and other vehicles when feasible
  • Driver training standards being identified, implemented, and enforced
  • Subcommittees or Road User Groups (RUGs) be put in place at an operational level where work is occurring within each unique road system or road network

The project concluded that a critical success factor was the participation of the road owner (i.e., Ministry of Forest and Range, the Oil and Gas Commission, or others) in any road safety management initiative.

“In the next few years, there will be a huge increase in the number of trucks using the road system in the Northeast,” said Duane Mather, President and CEO of Nabors Canada, in support of more coordination of activity on resource roads. “We need this project at this time to ensure that the workers who will help us make the Horn River and Montney plays succeed will be safe.”

Chuck Carter, chair, Prince George Forest Road Management Committee and Canfor’s Safety Coordinator for BC and Alberta said, “The Prince George committee’s current focus is to help manage a system of forest road safety for industrial forestry users. The scope however can be expanded in the future if needed by bringing other stakeholders into the committee.”

Both of the regions where the Demonstration Project was piloted were provincial forest districts, and the employers who became part of the Road Safety Management Committees represented the two affected industries — forestry and oil and gas.

The entire report is available for download at

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors that serves about two million workers and more than 200,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.

For more information, contact:

Gladys Johnsen
Prevention Public Affairs Manager
604 214-5441 or 604 908-0876 (cell)