Variance requests

A variance allows an employer to take an alternative approach to a requirement in the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, if the alternative gives equal or greater protection to workers than the original requirements.

Variances are not commonly granted and usually only in exceptional circumstances.

You must be able to satisfy the board that the alternative protection is equal to or greater than the protection provided by the requirement being varied.

The board may grant a variance only on the following two grounds:

  • the availability of equipment improvements, or
  • the availability of alternate processes or procedures.

Apply for a variance

Any application for variance must clearly demonstrate how the requested variance will provide an equal or greater level of protection for worker health and safety than the protection provided by the requirement being varied.

To apply for a variance, complete and submit an application to the board. You can use this template Application for Variance to provide the following information:

  • a detailed hazard assessment of the proposed work process;
  • a comparison of the proposed work process to the current work process that is required by regulation;
  • information on other approaches to the work process that were considered;
  • a training plan detailing what training will be provided, by who, to who, the methods used for training;
  • information on how supervision of the proposed process will be maintained; and
  • the record of consultation with affected workers and (if there is one) the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.

We may also require, at your expense, written evidence from a professional engineer, safety professional, hygienist or an expert in the related industry or occupation, that the protection for the health and safety of workers will be equal or greater under the proposed process compared to the requirement being varied.

Submit your application well in advance of when you need a decision as it can take up to 45 days for the board to process a request for variance.

More information

Contact us if you have any questions about the application.