On February 11, 2015, the B.C. Government tabled Bill 9, the Workers' Compensation Amendment Act,
2015 which if passed, significantly expands
WorkSafeBC's powers to deal with non-compliance and increases
employers' obligations in respect of workplace health and
The purpose of the legislation is to strengthen WorkSafeBC's
ability to promote and enforce occupational health and safety
compliance, particularly in the area of inspections and
investigations. The increased powers to WorkSafeBC to deal with
non-complying employers include:
the power to issue a stop work order
at one or several workplaces belonging to an employer where a high
risk to workers or reoccurring non-compliance with a provision is
the power to seek a court order
restraining the most egregious employers from operating in an
on the spot fines up to $1000 for
less serious contraventions; and,
the ability to enter into a
Compliance Agreement with employers found in non-compliance.
In addition, significant changes were made to employers'
regulatory obligation in respect of incident investigations and
reporting. Recall that incident investigations are required not
only for incidents resulting in serious injury to a worker, but
also those that have the potential for causing serious injury. The
new obligations are quite onerous and include the introduction of a
two part incident investigation requirement wherein employers must
conduct a Preliminary Investigation and rectify any unsafe
conditions, acts or procedures within 48 hours, followed by Full
Investigation of which a copy of the investigation report must be
provided to WorkSafeBC within 30 days of the incident. Failure to
comply could result in financial penalties.
In light of the proposed amendments, employers should
familiarize themselves with the new regulatory requirements and
prepare to revise their internal incident investigation policies as
necessary. If the legislation is passed as is, we expect incident
investigations will attract a heightened level of attention from
WorkSafeBC. Failure to comply with the new requirements could
result in an employer being the subject of WorkSafeBC's
increased enforcement powers.
Lawson Lundell will continue to monitor the passing of the
legislation and provide updates on any significant amendments. As
always, we are happy to provide your business with a more in depth
review of the bill and its implications for your operations.
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.
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