Safety and Environmental Management

Safety for our volunteers, staff, contractors and skiers is a high priority for the the Canadian Birkebeiner Society (CBS).

A history of safe volunteering: For over 35 years, the cheery and encouraging attitude of our volunteers has been a recognized as a key part of the Birkie experience. Further, the long history of volunteer participation suggests that involvement in the Birkie is an enjoyable and meaningful volunteer experience, even in the middle of the Alberta winter!

Volunteering and provincial OHS legislation:  Although the Birkie has a proud history of caring for the safety and well-being of its volunteers and for recognizing their contributions, recent circumstances required the Canadian Birkebeiner Society (CBS) to develop a formalized Safety and Environmental Management (SEM) plan that is compliant with recent changes to Alberta OHS legislation and acceptable to Alberta Environment & Parks (AEP) under whose jurisdiction we run the Birkie Festival in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area.  In particular, as a not-for-profit and essentially volunteer organization, we had to address changes in the legislation that consider even unpaid volunteers to be “workers” under the terms of the amended OHS Act.

The new CBS SEM program: CBS was tasked with developing a SEM program, which is described in the CBS SEM Manual. The policies and procedures presented in Section 1 of this manual have been approved by the CBS Board of Directors and by AEP management. This Manual is a “living” document and the later technical Sections and Appendices will be subject to continual additions and revisions approved by the Safety Committee.

How our program works in practice: From an operational standpoint, access to the CBS SEM Manual on-line is the first step in providing our volunteers with the information needed to meet provincial OHS requirements.Specific postings of information by our Volunteer Leaders for the information of their volunteers groups will be the second step in this on-line orientation process. Finally, Volunteer Leaders will hold on-site Tailgate meetings with their volunteers as activities unfold during the Birkie Festival. Volunteers will also have access to hard copies of key documents on-site and will be asked to acknowledge their participation in Tailgate meetings and volunteer activities for the Birkie.

Click here for CBS SEM Forms