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British Columbia banned mandatory high heels in the workplace with an amendment to the existing footwear section of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act.
The requirement is a workplace health and safety issue creating a risk of physical injury from slipping or falling, as well as possible foot, leg and back damage, Shirley Bond, the minister for jobs, tourism and skills training and minister of labor, said in an April 7 statement
“This change will let employers know that the most critical part of an employee’s footwear is that it is safe,” Bond said. “I expect employers to recognize this very clear signal that forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable.”
Provincial regulator WorkSafeBC will develop a workplace guideline for employers and employees to support the amended regulation. That guideline is expected to be available by the end of April.
The ministry said the amended regulation ensures workplace footwear is of design, construction and material that allows workers to safely perform their work. The amendment was made by a cabinet order called an order in council.
To determine appropriate footwear, the amendment said employers must consider “slipping, tripping, uneven terrain, abrasion, ankle protection and foot support, crushing potential, potential for musculoskeletal injury, temperature extremes, corrosive substances, puncture hazards, electrical shock and any other recognizable hazard.”
Ian Tostenson, president of the British Columbia Restaurant & Foodservices Association, told Bloomberg BNA April 10 that wearing heels has been considered almost cruel.
He said the industry has embraced the change.
“We think this is the right regulation to bring in,” he said. “From the health and safety point of view, it’s entirely sensible.”
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