An amendment to the occupational health and safety regulation under the Workers' Compensation Act stipulates that resource roads are not classed as a workplace, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced.
Resource roads are typically one-lane or two-lane gravel roads built for industrial purposes to access natural resources in remote areas.
They include forest service roads, petroleum development roads, mineral exploration roads, Land Act roads and special-use-permit roads.
B.C. has an estimated 450,000 kilometres of resource roads.
The amendment clarifies that while resource roads themselves are not considered a workplace, any portion under construction, maintenance, or repair is deemed a workplace and governed by the Workers' Compensation Act.
Industrial or commercial vehiclestravelling on resource roads are also governed by the act, but the road itself is not considered a workplace.
Resource roads typically are constructed, maintained, and used by logging companies and other industrial users. They are also used by the public travelling to remote communities, as well as recreational and backcountry destinations.
The new policy is intended to clarify the status of resource roads until a new Natural Resource Roads Act is introduced. The new act will consolidate 11 separate pieces of legislation that now govern resource roads and will establish a uniform set of regulations for all resource roads in B.C.
Safety on resource roads is everyone's responsibility. Users are encouraged to report unsafebehaviour, while companies are expected to supervise and monitor their workers.