WCB’s Environmental Tobacco Smoke Regulation upholds workers’ legal right to a healthy and safe workplace

The Hospital Employees’ Union recently made a submission to the Workers’ Compensation Board in support of the proposed Environmental Tobacco Smoke Regulation. The new regulation will protect workers from exposure to second-hand smoke by eliminating smoking from workplaces throughout B.C. including acute hospitals and long-term care and community care facilities.

The proposed regulation strengthens a general requirement that is already in Part 5, Section 5.2, of the current regulations. That section was designed to eliminate or minimize any exposure to cancer-causing substances (carcinogens).

It states that if a worker is or may be exposed to a chemical or biological substance, (smoke contains carcinogens), that could cause an adverse health effect, the employer must ensure that procedures are in place to prevent exposure by any route that could cause an adverse health effect.

According to numerous media reports, there are strong indications that the tobacco industy is contributing to the hospitality sector’s campaign against this regulation. It’s another example of multi-national corporations attempting to undermine the rights of working people, manipulate the public, and place shareholder profits above workers’ health and safety.

“We commend the Workers’ Compensation Board for taking a strong stand to protect the health of workers and the general public,” said HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “The Environmental Tobacco Smoke Regulation upholds the legal right of workers to a healthy workplace and will enhance the lives of many by reducing the incidence of smoking-related illnesses and disease.”