WorkSafeBC is rethinking its plan to require golf courses across the province to outfit all of their motorized equipment with seat belts and rollover protection bars, after an industry outcry about cost and impracticality of the move.
Golf course managers have been hearing about the new rule set to take effect in September. It’s not just for employees mowing fairways and driving refreshment carts, but for all their customer-rented power carts too. That’s because employees in company golf tournaments, or corporate teams in charity tournaments would potentially have access to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while playing, B.C. Liberal tourism critics Doug Clovechok and Michelle Stilwell say.
In a letter to Tourism Minister Lisa Beare, the MLAs for Revelstoke and Parksville said the requirement would cost the B.C. golf industry as much as $20 million to upgrade its equipment. The extra costs would be disastrous for B.C. tourism as prices rise and golfers can easily shift vacations to Alberta, Montana, Idaho or Washington.
Golf course operators say the idea is not only costly for the B.C. industry, it won’t work.
“It’s ridiculous to think that you’re going to hit a shot and then get in the cart and put a seat belt on, and then drive maybe 100 yards, take the seat belt off and keep doing that,” said Brian Schaal, B.C. representative on the board of the National Golf Course Owners Association.
Schaal is general manager of Copper Point Golf Club in Invermere. His facility has 138 power carts, plus beverage, marshall and other carts, and he estimates a retrofit would cost about $1,600 per cart, if it can be done at all. Conventional carts have loose seat cushions and are not designed for seat belts.
Stilwell and Clovechok said WorkSafeBC has refused to consider an exemption for corporate tournaments. They questioned if this is justified by actual injuries, since golf courses use curbs, fences, GPS controls and automatic speed limiters to keep golf carts safe.
After inquiries by Black Press, WorkSafeBC appears to be taking a mulligan on the plan.
WorkSafeBC is working on revisions to section 16 of its Occupational Health and Safety regulation, the part dealing with mobile equipment such as foklifts, all-terrain vehicles and golf carts, spokesman Ralph Eastman said in an email Friday. Consultation was conducted over the past year and more will be done.
“Based on stakeholder input, WorkSafeBC is reviewing the proposed revisions to the regulation, including how they will be applied to various vehicles and users,” Eastman said. “Additional consultation and public hearings will be conducted this fall. There is no specific date yet for when the new revisions will be completed.”