A maintenance electrician had "worked on" a stuck
shipping door when he simply "inspected" it, even though
he had not actually performed maintenance on it, a court has ruled.
He was injured when the door fell on him. The employer was found
guilty of failing to ensure that the door was "blocked"
before employees worked on it.
The maintenance employee testified that he "took a look at
the controller [for the door] just to make sure, looked in to make
sure that the P-L-C was powered up". He agreed that he was
"merely inspecting, trying to determine what the problem
The trial justice found that "some level of work" took
place, and therefore that the employer was guilty of the offence of
failing to ensure that the shipping door was blocked before it was
"adjusted, repaired, or [had] work performed on it",
contrary to the Industrial Establishments regulation under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The appeal judge agreed and upheld the conviction. He stated
that the OHSA did not require that a "minimum or threshold
amount of work be performed" before the requirements of the
OHSA are triggered. The maintenance employee's checks of the
electrical system for the door amounted to "some work"
and therefore the obligation to "block" the door had been
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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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