This month, we introduce a new series focusing on occupational
health and safety ("OH&S") issues to help employers
ensure health and safety in the workplace and avoid penalties under
the Workers' Compensation Act and Occupational
Health and Safety Regulation (the "Regulation").
First, do you have a written Occupational Health & Safety
program? The Regulation requires that all employers with a
workforce of 50 or more workers, or with 20 or more workers in a
workplace with a high or moderate risk of injury must have a
written OH&S Program. (You can find out your
workplace's assigned hazard rating
here.) When investigating a workplace safety incident,
one of the primary considerations WorkSafeBC takes into account
when deciding whether to levy a penalty against an employer is
whether the employer has an OH&S Program that conforms to all
the requirements of the Regulation.
OH&S Programs must be generally designed to prevent injuries
and occupational diseases, and must include the following
a statement of the employer's aims and the responsibilities
of each of the employer, supervisor and workers;
regular inspections of the workplace, equipment, and work
practices at appropriate intervals, so that hazardous conditions
are promptly identified and corrected;
written instructions on safe work practices to supplement the
Regulation which are available for reference by all workers;
periodic management meetings to review health and safety
activities, incidents and trends, and to determine necessary
courses of action;
prompt investigation of OH&S incidents to determine how to
prevent their recurrence;
maintenance of records and statistics, including inspection
reports and incident investigation reports, and how this
information will be provided to the Joint Health and Safety
Committee or Health and Safety representative (as applicable);
instruction and supervision of workers on how to perform their
For workforces with less than 50 workers (or less than 20
workers in a moderate or high risk of workplace), employers are not
required to have a written OH&S Program with the above
provisions. Instead, employers must have a less formal program in
place, involving monthly meetings with workers to discuss health
and safety matters and correct unsafe conditions, and keep records
of the meetings.
To make sure that your business is fully compliant with the Act
and Regulation, we recommend that you regularly review your
OH&S Program, at least annually, and ensure it is up-to-date
whenever changes are made.
In the coming weeks, we will post on other key OH&S issues,
including bullying and harassment, young and new worker
orientations, and employees working alone. Stay tuned!
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).