Could Golf Carts in BC Require Roll Bars by 2019?

By WCTA Staff

WorksafeBC’s ‘Policy, Regulation and Research Division’, is requesting feedback on the proposed amendments to Part 16, Mobile Equipment, together with consequential amendments to 9 other parts of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

This consultation phase provides stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback prior to the proposed amendments being taken to public hearing in spring of 2019.  The deadline to respond is October 10, 2018.

https://www.worksafebc.com/en/law-policy/public-hearings-consultations/current-public-hearings-and-consultations/proposed-amendments-occupational-health-safety-regulation-part-16 

Could golf carts in BC require roll-over protection (ROPS)?  

For workers, yes, this definition includes golf carts so roll bars would be required under the proposed changes unless a ‘Qualified Person (QP)’ performs a site assessment and determines there is no significant risk of roll-over.  

Non-golf course workers are also captured under this provision.  Specifically, an employee who is playing in a corporate or charity event where the employer pays the entry or green fee would be considered a worker under this policy.  In this case the same rule would apply where a qualified person would need to determine risk and whether ROPS are needed in the golf cart.

There may be other scenarios where this rule would apply, ie. a golf pro or other staff employed at Golf Course A playing golf at Course B.

For other regular golf course patrons, no, Worksafe rules do not apply.

I thought 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 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.
Most 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, does that mean drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis is not allowed?

What can golf industry personnel do?

1. Respond to the consultation.
2. Ask their golf industry organizations to lobby the government on this issue.
3. Seek legal counsel.  In particular, ask whether or not having a golf course employee perform a safety assessment increases the risk of liability to the golf course.  Also look into more comprehensive golf cart waivers designed specifically for corporate events.
4. Ask golf cart manufacturers if they have any plans to design enhanced safety features into their products.
5. Manage their property by identifying/restricting cart access to potentially dangerous areas.  Add generic and specific safety signage on golf carts and throughout the property.  Ensure cart speeds are set for <15km/hour.
6. Have corporate players pay green fees individually.
7. Maintain a separate golf cart fleet with roll bars for corporate events.
8. Ensure all corporate tournament players are on their day off😀

Risk Stats

Risk was not substantial according to Tim McCarthy, however:

738 worker injury claims in 10 years relating to golf carts.
7 were roll-overs.
No [worker] fatalities.

Also according to Mr. McCarthy, golf cart accidents are on the rise in the USA and is a concern here.  He noted that more injuries occur from ejection and side rail seat design encourages axis rotation upon ejection.  Hitting trees and other objects, hitting people and disembarking are also common injury claims.