Trades Safety

It is the intent of UBC to provide a safe, healthy and secure environment for all members of its faculty, staff, students and visitors.

Safe Work Programs

What are confined spaces?

A confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed area with limited or restricted means of entry or exit. Although it is big enough for a worker to enter, it is not designed for someone to work in regularly. Examples of confined spaces include manholes, pits, boilers, tanks and hoppers

Many hazards are present within confined spaces. Hazards may include, but not limited to poor air quality, temperature extremes, electrical, biological, chemical and noise exposures. To effectively control the risks to those hazards, a hazard assessment and work procedure must be established for each confined space. Entry into UBC confined spaces is only permitted by trained and authorized individuals.

Safety & Risk Services maintains an inventory of all confined spaces at UBC along with their respective hazard assessments and work procedures.

^ Back to Top

What is de-energization & lockout?

If machinery and equipment could unexpectedly activate or if the unexpected release of an energy source could cause injury, the energy source must be isolated and controlled through de-energization and lockout.

De-energization is the removal of hazardous energy from machinery or equipment. Types of hazardous energy include electrical, kinetic, potential, chemical, thermal, and radiation energy.

Lockout is the use of lock(s) to render machinery or equipment inoperable or to isolate an energy source. Once de-energization is complete, lockout can be applied.
Serious injuries can occur if machinery or equipment are not properly de-energized and locked out, when required. Examples of when de-energization and lockout may be required include installing, repairing, cleaning and lubricating equipment.

Individuals performing de-energization and lockout must receive training on lockout requirements, which includes, but not limited to the importance of locking out machinery and equipment, dangers of hazardous energy, when lockout is required, types of lockout, equipment to be used, and safe work procedures.

^ Back to Top

What is fall protection?

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires workers to use a fall protection system when there is a potential to fall a distance of at least 3 meters (10 feet) or where a fall from a lesser distance may result in a serious injury.

Workers using a fall protection system must receive training and be knowledgeable of fall protection requirements, which includes, but not limited to, the recognition of fall hazards, selection of fall protection systems, safe use and limitations of personal fall protection equipment, inspection requirements, and rescue procedures to safely assist workers at height.

Examples of work activities where fall protection requirements may apply include working on ladders, scaffolds, temporary work platforms, and rooftops.

UBC is committed to providing a safe work environment for its employees who work at heights and to preventing occupational injuries due to falls.

^ Back to Top

What is required for Workplace Hazardous Material Information Systems (WHMIS)?

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada’s national hazard communication standard. The key elements of the system are cautionary labeling of containers of WHMIS “hazardous products”, the provision of safety data sheets (SDSs) and worker education and training programs.

  • The general online WHMIS training is required for all workers (except laboratory personnel – see next bullet) to become familiar with the roles, labels, and hazard classes of the WHMIS system.
  • If you are working in a laboratory, you are required to take the Chemical Safety Training which includes WHMIS as a module.

^ Back to Top

What changes have taken place when WHMIS aligned with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

In 2015, Canada aligned WHMIS 1988 with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals to create WHMIS 2015. During the transition phase, you may receive hazardous products that follow either WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements. To ensure worker protection, Safety & Risk Services has developed a PowerPoint presentation so that Supervisors can educate Workers on the New WHMIS 2015 Pictograms, Labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (PDF) that may appear in our workplace. Note: This is not a full WHMIS Course.

^ Back to Top

Exposure Control Plans, Safe Work Procedures, & Standard Operating Procedures

“The Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Regulation, Section 3.3 states:

  • the OH&S Program must be designed to prevent injuries and occupational diseases…under section c, the program must include appropriate written instructions, available for reference by all workers, to supplement this OH&S Regulation”.

When do I need an Exposure Control Plan (ECP)?

The OH&S Regulation requires an ECP to be developed when:

  • “a worker is or may be exposed to an air contaminant in excess of 50% of its exposure limit;


  • when required by the Regulation”


An ECP is used as a reference document and provides pertinent information about the contaminant and how to mitigate the risk of exposure.

For Example

At UBC an ECP can be written for silica dust because workers may exposed to it during various work activities.
^ Back to Top

When do I need a Safe Work Procedure (SWP)?

Documented SWPs must be in developed to establish consistent level of work performance for everyone in the workplace. A SWP must includes a step-by-step description of the activity, training required, materials and equipment required, hazards identified and how to control the risk of the hazards.

A SWP serves as:

  • a training tool for new workers
  • a reference guide for seasoned workers


For Example

At UBC workers may exposed to silica dust through various activities which include:

  • Drilling into concrete ceilings,
  • Jackhammering into concrete, and
  • Cutting or coring into concrete.


A SWP will be developed for each activity and then workers must be trained on these activities through the use of that SWP.
^ Back to Top

When do I need a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

SOPs are a written method of controlling a practice in accordance with predetermined specifications to obtain a desired outcome. SOPs can be written based on manufacture specifications of a piece of equipment or machinery.


For Example
An SOP can be developed for operating a jackhammer, in accordance to the manufacture specifications.

^ Back to Top

Contractor Safety

What are the safety responsibilities for contractors?

It is the intent of UBC to provide a safe, healthy and secure environment for all members of its faculty, staff, students and visitors. As a contractor, it is your responsibility to ensure that project work is performed in a safe manner, and that it is in compliance with WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, any other applicable provincial and/or federal laws and/or regulations, and any UBC policies, procedures and other requirements that may apply.

The University expectations are that contractors will train, supervise, and direct their employees to be mindful of the safety of UBC‟s students, faculty, employees, neighbours and property, when performing work on UBC‟s premises. This manual does not address, and is not intended to abrogate or assume responsibility for the contractor’s duty to its employees. Nor does this manual provide an exhaustive outline of laws, ordinances or regulations governing environmental, health and safety compliance. Rather it is provided to identify specific responsibilities, communicate the availability of hazard information for university properties and to outline UBC Safety and Environmental procedure.

^ Back to Top

Where can I get more information about contractor safety?

For more information, see the UBC Contractors Safety Operation Manual (PDF).

^ Back to Top

Asbestos Management

What is the mandate of the asbestos management program?

The Asbestos Management Program is managed by Safety & Risk Services in collaboration with Building Operations on behalf of UBC.

The mandate of the Asbestos Management Program is to control the potential hazards of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres by the identification and elimination, or the encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials.

UBC had many buildings constructed/renovated during decades when asbestos was a common addition to building materials. Check out our latest Asbestos Alert Bulletin (PDF) for the locations of known asbestos materials on campus.

Our services include:

  • Inspection, inventory and documentation of asbestos containing materials (ACM) in UBC facilities.
  • Providing support for University stakeholders during renovation and maintenance projects.
  • Implementation and maintenance of an on-site information system on asbestos materials through the placement of identification labels in every room on campus.

^ Back to Top

What are the health concerns?

UBC has put measures in place to ensure that possible asbestos-related health risks (PDF) are eliminated or as low as reasonably achievable. Still, it is important to note the different health issues related to asbestos exposure and how you can recognize their symptoms.

It should be noted that exposure to asbestos can occur in your residence (built prior to 1995) when do it yourself home renovations takes place or a contractor is not using safe asbestos removal procedures when asbestos is present while doing work in your residence.

UBC Asbestos Management Program highly recommends that you should hire a qualified Asbestos Consultant to conduct a survey prior to renovation if your residence was built prior to 1995.

^ Back to Top

What are labels and identification?

Asbestos Containing Materials are present throughout UBC Buildings constructed prior to 1985. In 1985 the University mandated that asbestos containing construction materials not be used in any new building. In the early 1990’s the university undertook an inventory of all buildings and asbestos materials within them.

The university also established the Asbestos Management Program (AMP) and instituted a labeling system identifying the location of asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) (PDF) within each room of buildings with asbestos containing materials on campus.

^ Back to Top

What are the typical uses for asbestos?

Historically, as asbestos only required minimal refining prior to its use in manufacturing, it was a very inexpensive and effective constituent of many products. One of the sectors that utilized asbestos most frequently was the construction industry.

Asbestos was added to building materials to give them strength and fire proofing. As a consequence, virtually all of the buildings constructed prior to 1980 contain some form of an asbestos building products (PDF).

The use of asbestos in most products was banned in the early 1970s but some manufacturers that produce products such as brake linings and clutch facings have found no other effective replacement for asbestos.

^ Back to Top