An Ontario court has held that an employer had no duty to
provide safety training to a medical manager on a function
– the use of ladders – that was outside of the
manager's job duties.
The case involved the Emergency Medical Services Manager with
the Parry Sound Health Centre. The manager took an extension
ladder, leaned the ladder against the outside of a building, then
climbed the ladder to check a heating and air conditioning roof
unit that was not working properly. When the manager was 15
or 20 feet up, the ladder gave way and he fell to the ground and
was seriously injured.
The Ministry of Labour laid an Occupational Health and Safety
Act charge against the employer, alleging a failure to properly
train the medical manager on ladder use.
Justice of the Peace Tenant, in the Ontario Court of Justice,
held that the employer was not guilty. He found that ladder
use "had nothing to do with" the medical manager's
job; that the manager should not have been using a ladder; that it
was not foreseeable that he would use the ladder; that he was not
asked by the employer to use the ladder or to repair the roof unit;
and that he was aware that the proper procedure was to call a
The court asked, rhetorically, whether it would be
"reasonable and necessary to provide information, instruction
and supervision to a maintenance worker on the proper use of a
hypodermic syringe?" and whether, if a nurse was injured
hanging a piece of art, would the employer be required to train all
nurses in the use of hammers?
In closing, the court stated that it does not require
"super-human efforts" to raise a due diligence defence to
Occupational Health and Safety Act charges, and the Act and
regulations do not "mandate or seek to achieve the impossible
entirely risk-free work environment".
R. v. West Parry Sound Health Centre, 2012 CarswellOnt 7703
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