Key Initiatives: Business Transformation
As COVID-19 pushed industries around the world to adopt digital tools, Technical Safety BC looked inward to make sure our technological framework puts people first. That’s why our focus coming into 2021 was to make participation in the safety system simpler and more effective by providing tools that empower our employees and clients.
In 2021, we took new steps to expand accessibility of safety information, key services, and products. We improved the experience of online certification exams, expanded our design registration online portal, piloted new automation processes to serve clients, and took an iterative approach to assessments that optimizes risk-based safety oversight. We also continued our multi-faceted business transformation project which will streamline the safety system for all British Columbians.
Faster, more efficient design registration
In 2021, Technical Safety BC launched a new online portal dedicated to the submission and registration of technical equipment designs. Design registration is an important first step in the safety system because the majority of new or modified equipment originates from outside British Columbia. In 2021, we received over 4,000 submissions (compared to an average of 2,000 to 3,000 submissions from 600 global clients every year), reflecting increased investment in technical systems in the province.
Prior to the launch of our new online design registration portal, asset owners looking to modify or create new technical equipment had to courier their design plans to our Vancouver office to have them registered for approval and certification. With our new system, manufacturers, professional engineers, and designers can submit their designs digitally. This makes the registration process more transparent for clients who want to view the status of their request. Frontline operators can also immediately access their designs and correspond with safety officers throughout each phase of the process.
By removing barriers in the design registration process, we have cut turnaround times from an average of eight weeks to just four-to-six weeks, enabling clients to gain certification and implement their designs faster while using fewer resources. We are the first regulator in Canada to allow clients to submit their designs 100% electronically.
Digital assessments optimize safety oversight
Since 2020, we have used a Structured Resource Allocation (SRA) machine learning model to generate predictive insights from historical records of safety assessment data. Those insights inform the decisions of our safety officers about what they will assess in the field, enabling them to focus on the assessments where they are most likely to find a safety hazard.
As the algorithm receives more feedback from the field, it adapts and improves safety officers’ assessment work to where it was needed most. Our safety officers can identify levels of risk and optimize safety oversight while keeping clients better informed and prepared for safety assessments.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, we launched remote assessments so that safety officers could continue delivering safety services despite the pandemic. They used digital applications in collaboration with asset owners and duty holders to perform assessments remotely.
In 2021, we expanded the program by developing digital tools that help clients more efficiently upload images, communicate virtually, and better prepare for assessments before contacting safety officers. Safety officers continued to perform in-person inspections at high-hazard sites and where there were opportunities to educate communities about systemic issues.
Improved online certification exams
In 2020, Technical Safety BC launched an online exam pilot program. Previously, exams had been administered in offices located throughout the province. By moving most of our exams online we were able to adhere to public health guidelines and support our clients in earning certification.
This year, we took steps to expand our offering of certification exams to align with new code change requirements and created procedures that are equitable for clients across the province. After receiving feedback from our clients, we refined our online exam experience with improved accessibility, special accomodations, a flexible exam schedule, and faster results.
Online exams have opened up access to certification programs across the province and fostered confidence among clients and duty holders. Throughout the year, over 2,364 clients took an online exam while 2,094 took an exam in person.
In 2021, Technical Safety BC advanced our goal of creating a more efficient, responsive safety system. When we launched our multi-year business transformation project in 2020, our goals were to:
- decrease the time to make changes in the safety system;
- increase responsiveness to advances in technical systems;
- reduce complexity and foster confidence; and
- improve safety-minded decision-making among duty holders and the public.
Looking forward, our focus will shift to data integration and consolidation in order to analyze and rapidly respond to new risks as they arise. As we develop and refine our technological framework, we aim to develop a platform that supports our organization to put the safety of British Columbians above all else.