Within municipal government, we all are familiar with coordinating contractors when completing infrastructure based construction projects or road maintenance. But, when you think about your next community event, how certain are you that you are complying with all the necessary safe workplace regulations?

Recreation departments are often thought to be all about ‘fun and games,’ however contractor coordination is a critical (and less glamorous) step in hosting special events. When it comes to corralling the numerous volunteers, organizations, and businesses it takes to pull off an exciting action packed event, it’s a whole new ball game!

The City of Fort St. John recently reviewed our own event coordinator processes and determined that, in fact, we needed to close some gaps to ensure the health and safety of our contractors, service groups, not for profits, event volunteers, as well as the members of our community. In order to do this, we decided it was necessary to develop and implement a new program that ensured workplace safety regulation compliance.

From our internal review the Contractor Coordination Program was created, and designed to better align with provincial Occupational Health and Safety legislation and WorkSafeBC regulations.

What we learned is, special events are unique and each volunteer, organization, and business needs to be treated individually depending on their make-up and structure. When considering hiring local entertainers or service providers that are new to you, it’s important to ask:

  • Do they comply with Work Safe BC and Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Regulations?
  • Do you ensure that everyone you hire has and adheres to safe work procedures?

Whether it’s a fire show, traffic control, fishing derby, or face painting, it’s up to you! As the event host you must review, suggest, and ensure that everyone you are bringing on-site has created safe work procedures to minimize the “what if’s”.

We’ve also learned that the administration of our new program is very paperwork-heavy and requires recreation programming staff to know the program well and work closely with the their(?) Health & Safety department so everyone is well versed in Work Safe BC regulations and OH&S regulations.

In many cases there are only a handful of organizations that fit the standard contractor and are able to comply with program requirements. The rest is where it gets tricky!

This past summer we experienced an incident between a hired contractor and a member of the public. Even though we had hired a reputable contractor to complete the work, we found ourselves in a debacle and missed some crucial planning steps along the way. This incident turned out to be the most profound learning tool we could have asked for and gave us valuable lessons to implement into our process of planning future events.

As a result of this, our Contractor Coordination program now includes steps to:

  • Pre-qualify contractors with a questionnaire;
  • Retain a copy of our certificate of liability insurance, naming the City as additionally insured;
  • Review the OH&S program and/ or applicable Safe Work Procedures;
  • Retain a training matrix for worker’s conducting work for the City;
  • Retain a Clearance Letter from Worksafe BC;
  • Retain a Worksafe BC 5-year history Employers Report;
  • Attain a completed Prime Contractor, Service or Volunteer Agreement that is specific to the organization or person;
  • Arrange a contractor orientation / pre-meeting and maintain confirmation of detailed notes of roles and responsibilities;
  • Complete a daily site inspection and other action items;
  • Retain pre-job Safety Meeting Minutes from the contractor;
  • Conduct an Event Safety Briefing for ALL contractors, service providers, staff, supervisors, and volunteers prior to the event;
  • Require all contractors/ employees/ volunteers to complete an orientation and sign in/ out.

If you are responsible for hosting special events, I urge you to conduct a review of your own contractor coordination program or event workplace compliance practices. How do you think you would score?


Kylah Bryde is the Recreation Manager for the City of Fort St John, the hub of Northern BC known as the ‘Energetic City’. With seven or eight months of winter each year, Kyla is happy to support the city’s commitment to developing unique winter city strategies that focus on enticing citizens to embrace northern living and remain active year-round. Kylah can be reached at KBryde@fortstjohn.ca.

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