Canadian Consulting Engineer

B.C. engineers investigate after scathing report on forestry roads

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. together with the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) has promised to undertake any necessary discipline proceedings following a finding that bridges in B.C. forests...

April 1, 2014  Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. together with the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) has promised to undertake any necessary discipline proceedings following a finding that bridges in B.C. forests are not being built to safety standards.

The province’s Forest Practices Board, which is an independent watchdog, carried out an investigation of 216 bridges constructed since 2010 in five districts and found that 19 of them were “obviously unsafe,” while another 13 bridges were “questionable.” Meanwhile, 40% of all the bridges did not have complete plans and 74 did not have the required sign off by a professional.

The board said it had become concerned with the growing number of non-compliant bridges that had shown up in its audit reports, especially since many involved unsafe bridges. Based on these findings, the board undertook a special investigation and issued a report on March 5.

In the introduction to that report, the board asks the professional associations to respond: ‘The Board requests that the Joint Practices Board of the Association of BC Forest Professionals and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia advise it of the steps planned or taken to address the professional practice issues identified in this report by October 31, 2014.”

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The board’s report also said, “This report is a wake-up call to those who are not complying with the law or the professional practice guidelines.”

It suggested that while the bridges examined were in the districts of Chilliwack, Vanderhoof, Rocky Mountain, Okanagan Shuswap and Cariboo Chilcotin, they were just a sample of what could be expected to be found throughout the province.

APEGBC and ABCFP responded to the board’s findings the same day, saying: “In the coming weeks APEGBC and ABCFP will be actively determining the facts involving professional practice or unsafe conditions that may have contributed to the problem bridge structures identified by the FPB. Where it’s appropriate, APEGBC and ABCFP will follow up with their respective enforcement and discipline systems.

In addition the associations plan to update the current professional practice guidelines: “Guidelines for Professional Services in the Forest Sector – Crossings” which they established in 2005 and were last revised in 2008. The associations agree that “a number of professionals have not been following the guidelines.” They plan to “identify the necessary skills and competencies required for this work” and to “undertake specialized professional development with members in this area of practice.”

To read the Forestry Board Report, click here.

To read the APEGBC and ABCFP response, click here.


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