An employer's appeal of a Ministry of Labour inspector's
compliance orders may proceed, despite the inspector's ongoing
investigation into possible charges, the Ontario Labour Relations
Board has ruled.
The inspector's compliance orders dealt with the wearing of
personal protective equipment and the training of workers regarding
hazards associated with moving vehicles or equipment. The employer
appealed the orders to the OLRB. At the same time, the inspector
continued an investigation that could result in potential charges
against the employer under the Occupational Health and Safety
Interestingly, it was the Ministry of Labour – not the
employer – that asked the OLRB to adjourn the employer's
appeal until the inspector's investigation had been completed.
The Ministry argued that it would not be proper to address issues
in the OLRB's pre-hearing in employer's appeal, or in the
course of the appeal itself, which may involve other workplace
parties such as the union and a particular worker who were
participating in the inspector's investigation into possible
The OLRB rejected the Ministry's request, stating that the
employer, which was represented by counsel, wished to proceed with
the appeal and had not yet been charged with offences under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act. Further, at least at
the pre-hearing stage of the employer's OLRB appeal, the
employer would not be required to provide any information to the
Ministry against its will which could prejudice the employer if it
were charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
after the inspector completed the investigation.
Lastly, the OLRB stated that any concerns about prejudice would
be more persuasively raised by an employer whose interests were
potentially at risk, rather than by the Ministry.
In the result, the employer was permitted to proceed with its
appeal of the Ministry inspector's compliance orders. The
Ministry's request for reconsideration of the OLRB's
decision was also dismissed.
This is a welcome decision that permits employers to challenge
Ministry inspectors' compliance orders without having to wait
until the inspector has completed his or her investigation.
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