How the British Columbia Golf Industry Addressed WorkSafeBC’s Proposed New Golf Cart Rules

By Trevor Smith, Allied Golf Association of British Columbia President

The current hot topic involves proposed regulations put forward by WorkSafeBC requiring rollover protection (ROPS) and seatbelts on all golf carts driven by workers. This very quickly became an item of interest for AGA-BC last October, as the rules were very complex, open to interpretation and potentially very costly to the industry with seemingly little benefit to employee safety.  Here linked is the AGA-BC Position on Proposed WorkSafeBC Rollover Protection and Seatbelts (ROPS) Regulations.

From experience dealing with government on previous issues, we knew our first step was to seek out the true nature and impact of the regulations and possible repercussions. AGA-BC addressed this by forming a working group tasked with reviewing proposed new rules, researching standards in other jurisdictions, contacting manufacturers and ultimately, requesting a face-to-face meeting with the regulator.

WorkSafeBC was very accepting of our request and provided an opportunity to meet face to face, twice eventually plus one public hearing. Up to this point, several stakeholders had made submissions during the industry consultation phase but it seemed no one really knew if golf was being captured inadvertently, if recent accident statistics were indicating increased concerns about golf cart rollovers, which golf carts would require ROPS and if ROPS were even available, along with many other questions. As a result, rumors were flying but nothing had been confirmed by WorkSafeBC.

AGA-BC’s goal was to separate fact from fiction and then develop an approach to resolve issues while working with, rather than against, WorkSafeBC. As a committee, we brought forward a series of questions pertaining to the regulations and our interpretation of the regulations. Those questions were answered and we were able to discern which regulations were going to have an impact on the industry. The meeting was very positive and the group was eager to work with us again. A second meeting to conclude our approach took place in early October.

Between those meetings the media got involved, highlighting golf operator concerns over proposed ROPS requirements on golf carts. Coverage resulted in further rumors, industry confusion and people looking for answers. As a committee, we were concerned that some in the golf industry assumed the issue had been put to bed as was implied by several media outlets and statements made by WorksafeBC in the process.

At the time, and as the only group we knew of who had a face-to-face meeting with Worksafe, there had been no indication of exclusion for golf carts. Confusion seemed to stem from a perspective that carts used by golfers would not need ROPS since Worksafe only regulates workers but this thought process did not seem to consider that those same carts are operated by golf course staff on a daily basis.

At this point, the AGA-BC Board voted to engage our former lobbyist, Mark Jiles and Bluestone Consulting, to guide us through the media impact and where the issue lay with both bureaucrats and politicians.

We then reached out to WorksafeBC for a second meeting to discuss any changes, bring forward our concerns, undertake an objective analysis of the incident and accident statistics and present our ask, a full exemption for operation of light frame/slow speed vehicles (Golf car, turf care utility vehicles).

At this meeting, we informed Worksafe that worldwide, no major golf cart manufacturer produces an engineered ROPS system for their golf carts and that any after-market system would void the manufacturer warranty. Much discussion ensued at this juncture and we were asked for letters of confirmation on the subject, which were subsequently provided.

On October 22nd, WorksafeBC let us know that under section 16.34 of the proposed amendments to Part 16 of the regulation ‘Mobile Equipment’, golf carts have been removed from the ROPS requirement(s).

This seems like a win for the industry and it’s very good news but as we have learned in the past 12 months of dealing with Worksafe, the “devil is in the details”. AGA-BC will continue to work with Worksafe to fully understand consequences of all the regulatory changes and how they will impact the golf industry including presenting our position paper at the upcoming four public hearings.

October 29, 2019Ramada Plaza
444 George Street
Prince George, BC
November 5, 2019Coast Hotels
1250 Rogers Way
Kamloops, BC
November 7, 2019Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort
100 Harbour Road
Victoria, BC
November 14, 2019Pacific Gateway Hotel
3500 Cessna Drive
Richmond, BC
Session Times:3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

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