Proposed ROPS Amendments a Tangled Issue

As published by the Western Canadian Turfgrass Association

September 23, 2019
prepared by Jerry Rousseau

In many ways, proposed amendments to the OH&S regulation requiring ROPS on golf carts is one of the most tangled issues I’ve worked on. Prior to the end of the industry consultation period last October, there was very little warning of WorksafeBC’s proposed changes, not to mention the regulation is extremely complicated.

Allied Golf Association of BC | ROPS Amendments

Interpreting the 45 page document, packed with new definitions, chronic circular references and ambiguity contrasted by hyper-detail, has been challenging. When reviewing proposed new rules, it’s been important to keep in mind the regulation oversees worker safety across all industries in the province, not just golf.

The WCTA has taken a lead role, working on the ROPS issue independently and through the Allied Golf Association of BC. A working group consisting of Andy Hedley of GolfBC, Trevor Smith, AGA-BC President, and myself met with WorkSafeBC policy analysts in person this past June; our goal was to review and thoroughly understand implications to the golf industry so that an advocacy strategy could be developed.

We put forward a lot of questions:

• What’s driving proposed changes?
• Have there been issues with worker safety on golf courses related to golf carts?
• Are there any statistics or data you can share?
• Is golf being captured inadvertently?
• Is there precedent for this regulation as it applies to golf carts in any other jurisdiction?
• Could a corporate event waiver be created so that corporate tournament participants are exempt from the WorkSafeBC requirements?

And several industry concerns/comments:

• proposed amendments create a tremendous and potentially overwhelming economic hardship to BC golf course operators;
• injury statistics are misleading as they capture all industries;
• lack of precedent in any other jurisdiction at this time;
• proposed amendments exceed current engineering / availability;
• potential for individual WorkSafe officer interpretation creating un-even playing field;
• enforcement improbable;
• other implications, ie. training, supervision, lights, fire extinguishers, hard hats, etc.
• any perceived risk to golf course employees and/or non-golf course employees considered to be at work while playing golf can be better addressed through management.

Recently, a flurry of media coverage ensued after release of an opposition MLA letter to BC Tourism Minister Lisa Beare supporting golf industry concerns. Shortly after, the first mainstream print article appeared, written by Black Press’s political columnist, Tom Fletcher and titled ‘Seat belt requirement a double bogey, B.C. golf industry says’. Picked up by Global News several days later, video journalist Kylie Stanton presented a piece called, ‘A very stupid idea: Industry slams proposed golf cart seat belt rules’, run as a live segment on September 4th and 5th.

Initial media coverage implied WorkSafeBC would rescind its proposal to make rollover protection mandatory on golf carts while the Global segment quotes WorkSafeBC spokesperson Ralph Eastman saying, “Based on stakeholder feedback, WorkSafeBC intends to limit the proposed changes to golf-course workers only, and workers in other industries where golf carts may be used. The proposed changes would not affect the public or golfers.”

It goes on to say “There are indications that WorkSafeBC is backing down from proposed new regulations B.C.’s golf courses say would have been disastrous,” however neither the WCTA nor the Allied Golf Association of BC has received confirmation from WorkSafe that the issue is dead. Rather, the two groups were told that feedback would be considered and if there was “more than a tweak to the proposed amendments,” another round of industry and public consultation would be required before going to the WorkSafe Board of Directors for a final decision.

Further thoughts:

• There is a lot more lobbying in front of us. While opposition party support is helpful and I’m glad the WCTA’s work on this issue was put to good use, the golf industry needs written confirmation from either the Minister or WorkSafeBC or both, that golf carts will be exempt from any ROPS requirement.

• Media coverage is a mixed blessing in that it generates awareness but the ‘stupid idea’ segment may not bode well for our continued discussions with WorkSafe. Down the road we will be dealing with hardhats, steel toe boots or some other issue so it’s probably a good idea to keep things cordial.

• Troubling me most is WorkSafe’s comments, along with those from the BC Labour Minister Harry Bains, focusing on worker safety, ie. the new rules won’t affect golfers. But considering that all golf carts, at some point, are serviced, washed, parked, shunted, fueled and stored by workers, mandatory ROPS and seatbelts required for employee protection will mean ROPS on all golf carts and will therefore capture golfers consequently.

Another meeting with WorkSafeBC representatives is being scheduled for 2nd week of October. We will continue providing updates and perspective on this important issue. Questions or comments can be sent to me at

Estimated $15-20M Hit To BC Golf Industry If WorkSafe Implements Proposed New Golf Cart Rules

As published on WCTA.ONLINE.COM by Jerry Rousseau with additional information added by Keith Lyall.

Last October, WorkSafeBC (somewhat silently) proposed amendments to Part 16 of the worker safety regulation, ‘Mobile Equipment‘ that would make roll-over protection and seat belts mandatory on golf carts.

Based on preliminary estimates of $1,500 to $2,000 for upgrades to each cart and an average of 60-75 golf carts per 18-hole golf course, cost could easily range from $90,000 to $150,000 per course with the total expense to the BC Golf Industry estimated between $15M and $20M!

Previously, golf carts were exempt from needing roll-bars and seatbelts.  Proposed changes apply to work carts and beverage carts, marshal carts and even carts driven by a golf professional during a lesson.  All employees operating a golf cart at any time during work are protected by the proposed new rules and there may be other scenarios where new rules would apply, ie. a golf pro or other staff employed at Golf Course A playing golf at Course B.

A far greater concern however, is Worksafe’s determination that non-golf course workers are captured under this provision.  Specifically, employees playing in a corporate or charity event are considered workers under this policy and the rules would apply.

This bears repeating/restating.  If your golf course’s business model includes corporate and/or charity events, patrons playing in the event are considered to be working.  If operating golf carts, those carts will require seatbelts and roll-bars (if the new rules pass).

The amendment process is in the final stages of public hearings.  I attended a hearing in Kamloops on April 30th, finding myself surrounded by loggers, construction contractors and road builders, all potentially negatively affected by proposed amendments to the regulation.  A common theme – engineering and manufacturing heavy equipment to the standards proposed by Worksafe isn’t possible due to material physics limitations.  In other words, equipment made to meet the new standards would be too heavy to operate.  Also, concern was expressed over the ambiguity of the proposed amendments that would leave interpretation up to individual WorkSafe officers.

Any questions?

I thought proposed WorksafeBC regulations for golf carts apply just to golf course workers, right?
Wrong.  Anyone who can access the compensation system is protected by the regulation.  This captures anyone being paid that is on your site and even volunteers.  They can also be from out-of-province.

Are there any exceptions?
Yes.  If a Qualified Person (QP) performs a site assessment and determines there is no significant risk of roll-over, then ROPS will not be required.

No significant hazard of rollover means “an area in which there are no grades exceeding 10%, no operating areas with open edges, no open ramps, loading docks, ditches or other similar hazards which might cause a rollover.”

What is a Qualified Person?
Defined in Part 1 of regulation:
“qualified” means being knowledgeable of the work, the hazards involved and the means to control the hazards, by reason of education, training, experience or a combination thereof;

Tim McCarthy, Senior Policy Analyst for WorksafeBC says this can be a local expert meaning a golf professional, superintendent or perhaps the course architect.

Food for thought

• If roll bars are required on golf carts to protect workers, including non-golf course employees playing in a corporate golf event, this could mean fire extinguishers, hard hats and adequate training and supervision would also be required but it doesn’t appear WCB will go that far, at least not yet.

• Certainly, beverage carts will be required to have ROPS under the new regulations.

• If a person playing golf at a corporate event is being paid to do so and therefore considered by WorksafeBC to be a worker, how does that affect consumption of alcohol supplied by the golf course?

Originally published by the Western Canada Turf Grass Association

WorkSafeBC Online Feedback Form

As prepared by Keith Lyall of the BC Golf Course Superintendents Association:

The definition for golf equipment and carts will fall under two categories, Mobile Equipment (ME)and Prime Movers (PM) but are effectively one and the same. Subsections that will have a relevance to golf course operations are as follows.

  • 16.3 Pre-operational inspection and monitoring, essentially every ME and PM will need documented inspections and records of repair for 2 years.
  • 16.4 Secure objects and clean surfaces: ensure there are no slippery surfaces, tripping hazards and stored objects or tools are stored securely.
  • 16.5 and 16.21 Seat belt use, get ready for this: All riders in ME must wear seat belts when equipment is in motion or if it has Rollover protective structure (ROPS) AKA, roll bar. To make it more difficult and expensive, all equipment with ROPS will require a 3-point seat belt from the manufacturer 2 years after this proposed change becomes law. At this point there is no exemption to golf carts, F&B carts or maintenance carts.
  • 16.15 Control on grades, in steep grades where brakes won’t be sufficient to stop you must have restraints to maintain control. The use of a cable to an anchor point similar to winch cats on a ski hill operation. Any slope over 25° would be considered too steep without a restraint.
  • 16.16 Tire servicing, basically all tire servicing including inspections, mounting, inflating, installing or removing must have safe work procedures for each task.
  • 16.27 Lights, must have lights if operated ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise.
  • 16.31 Load ratings, for equipment used to load or lift, must be permanently mounted and visible to the operator, i.e. skid steers, hoists and tractors.
  • 16.34 Rollover protective structure (ROPS):
    • A Rollover Risk Assessment must include the following factors
    • Machine stability
    • Ditches
    • Drop-offs
    • Soft spots
    • Mounds
    • Grades
    • Type of activity
  • ROPS must be used on tractors, dozers and loaders unless:
    • A qualified person has performed a written rollover risk assessment and determined there is no significant risk to the operator of the equipment rollover
    • Is a snowmobile, ATV or any other mobile equipment designed for a standing operator or with a straddle seat
    • Sit-down, ride-on turf care equipment heavier than 400 kg (882 lbs), manufactured after (date of coming into in force), 2020
    • Until January 1, 2025, ROPS does not apply to a golf cart if the golf cart is being used by a golf course patron who is a worker.
  • 16.35 ROPS standards, must meet specific requirements

The complete proposed amendments document for part 16, mobile equipment with the changes indicated can be located here.

Voice Your Concerns | Provide Feedback

As an industry we have the ability to voice our concerns and feedback on the proposed changes. WorksafeBC has opened an online feedback form for both workers and employers plus industry groups to offer their perspective, this form is open for input till May 10th at 4:30pm PST only. The AGA-BC will be submitting on behalf of the golf industry in British Columbia but individual associations and golf courses are also invited to submit your feedback during this process.

WorkSafeBC Online Feedback Form