In a decision that affirms a broad definition of
"workplace" under the Ontario Occupational Health and
Safety Act, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled that
hydro trucks, including their aerial lift buckets, were
"workplaces" under that Act even while they were simply
being used to transport employees.
The trucks were on the way to work locations when they
were required to enter a Ministry of Transportation inspection area
beside a highway. Interestingly, a Ministry of Labour inspector was
also present at the inspection site and laid certain orders under
the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to the
trucks. The orders required the employer to provide certain
documentation, and also dealt with certain safety concerns relating
to the operation of the step system used to access the aerial lift
Hydro One argued that in order for a Ministry of
Labour inspector to have jurisdiction to issue an order under
the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the order must be
issued at the workplace where the equipment (here, the aerial lift
bucket apparatus) is to be used. Hydro One argued that aerial
lift bucket apparatus was not a "workplace" when the
truck was being used solely to tranport employees, although the
rest of the truck would be a "workplace" during the
The OLRB stated:
"The equipment [aerial lift bucket apparatus] in question
is physically incorporated into the vehicle; it is equipment that
is and was en route to being used by the very same employee
operating the vehicle in question . . . If the employer's
analysis is accepted, i.e. that an order (request) must issue at
the workplace and if that did not happen in the instant case, the
employer acknowledged that an inspector faced with an obvious
safety deficit could follow the vehicle in question to the
workplace where the derelict equipment was to be used and properly
issue an order there. I am unable to see how requiring an
inspector having full knowledge of facts otherwise warranting the
issuance of an order to follow the equipment in question to the
workplace before issuing an order is a sensible policy result. It
is difficult to see how the spectre of inspectors, whether by
stealth or in 'hot pursuit', following derelict equipment
along highways and thoroughfares and unable to intervene until the
inspector, the equipment and the employee in question are all at
the 'proper' workplace is consistent with the rational
administration and effective enforcement of the legislated
workplace safety scheme.
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