Does the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the
"Act") apply if a customer dies in your workplace? The
Ontario Labour Relations Board (the "OLRB") and the
Divisional Court may say yes.
In December, 2007, a guest staying at Blue Mountain Resorts
drowned in an unsupervised swimming pool. No workers were present
and Blue Mountain did not notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour of
the death. More than two months later, a Ministry of Labour
inspector conducting a field visit at Blue Mountain Resorts learned
of the drowning incident and issued an order under the Act that
Blue Mountain report the death under section 51(1) of the Act.
Blue Mountain appealed the inspector's order to the OLRB,
arguing that the inspector's decision was incorrect as the
drowning incident did not involve a "worker" or
"workplace". The OLRB upheld the inspector's decision
and stated that the ordinary meaning of "person" as set
out in section 51(1) of the Act is not synonymous with
"worker". Furthermore, the absence of a worker from a
particular area does not render that area something other than a
"workplace". Blue Mountain's application for judicial
review was dismissed by the Divisional Court.
As a result, every place may be a "workplace", and
every injury or accident, whether or not involving a
"worker", may trigger the reporting obligations in
section 51(1) of the Act. Reports to the Ministry of
Labour may be regular given the nature of some workplaces, such as
hospitals, nursing homes and workplaces in the infrastructure
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