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B.C. change to hard hat rules brought in to support Sikh workers

Last Updated Jun 3, 2021 at 1:04 am PDT


Employers will have to review each area of a job site when determining if safety gear, like hard hats, is necessary

Mandatory, site-wide hard hats are being eliminated because they create barriers for Sikh workers

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Responding to concerns raised by Sikhs, WorkSafeBC is changing regulations in order to to make job sites more inclusive for people who wear religious head coverings.

Starting Sept. 1, employers will have to review each area of a job site when determining if safety gear, like hard hats, is necessary.

“In many workplaces, employers have approached the regulation with a blanket rule requiring all workers to wear a hard hat on the job, even in areas where the level of risk may be low or non-existent,” reads a release from the province.

“This regulatory change provides more opportunities for employers to safely accommodate workers who wear head coverings, such as a turban, as a religious practice. For many years, the Sikh community has raised concerns about not being able to fully participate in the workforce because of some employers’ approach to the safety headgear requirement.”

WorkSafeBC will be informing and educating employers about this change in the months leading up to it taking effect.

Baltej Dhillon, the first RCMP officer to wear a turban, says the move recognizes that a hard hat isn’t always the most effective form of protection.

“This change will also allow members of the Sikh community who wear a turban, to engage in dialogue with their employers to address workplace risks, which can, in turn, eliminate the need for a hard hat in certain scenarios. This change supports worker safety and will allow more Sikhs to come to work without having to compromise their religious beliefs.”

Kalwant Sahota, a retired forestry worker, says he has been advocating for this change for nearly 15 years.

“As a turban-wearing Sikh who worked in the forestry industry for 32 years, I am happy to see the government take an important step towards inclusivity in the workplace.”