Canada: Additional WorkSafeBC Powers And Employer Obligations Come Into Effect

Last Updated: October 27 2015
Article by Eric Ito

Increased powers granted by the BC Government to WorkSafeBC, the provincial workers' compensation insurer, are now in effect. Along with these changes, employers are now under additional obligations with respect to workplace incident investigation and reporting.

These changes come by way of the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2015 ("Bill 9") and enact several recommendations made to the provincial government in the wake of two tragic sawmill explosions which claimed the lives of four workers in 2012.

Bill 9 was introduced in two waves, with the first in effect on May 14, 2015, and the second in effect on September 15, 2015. An additional compliance measure, discussed below, is currently in force but is not expected to be implemented until early 2016. What follows is an overview of these changes and what they mean for employers.

For Employers

For employers the substantive occupational health and safety standards which exist will remain unchanged. What has changed however are the steps employers must now take when a workplace safety incident has occurred.

When an incident requiring an employer investigation happens, such as a serious injury, fatality, or near-miss, employers must now conduct a two-part investigation:

  1. Preliminary Investigation and Report: Within 48 hours of the incident, employers must identify (as far as possible) any unsafe conditions or acts which contributed to the incident and prepare a report summarizing their findings. More importantly, the report must also identify what interim corrective action the employer plans to take between the date of the incident and the time the full report is due.
  2. Full Investigation and Report: Within 30 days of the incident, employers must complete a full investigation report and submit it to WorkSafeBC. The final report should expand on the findings made in the preliminary report to include any additional or more detailed findings on the conditions which led to the incident and the steps taken to rectify them. The final report must also identify the people who are responsible for implementing the final corrective action and the date it was taken.

In addition to these reporting obligations, Bill 9 has shortened the time window employers have to request a review of decisions related to prevention orders and penalties from 90 days to 45 days. As with before, an employer may avoid an administrative penalty if it is able to demonstrate it exercised due diligence. In practice the onus has always lied with the employer to demonstrate due diligence, however this has now been codified by Bill 9.

Expanded WorkSafeBC Powers

Bill 9 has both enhanced and expanded the tools available to WorkSafeBC to ensure compliance.

Stop Work Orders. Stop work orders have long been an important measure available to WorkSafeBC to protect workers from the risk of serious injury or illness. Bill 9 has lowered the threshold required to trigger a stop work order, which may now occur in either of two instances:

  1. if there is a "high risk" to workers of a serious injury, illness, or death (the threshold was previously "immediate risk"); or
  2. if an employer has a previous violation and there is a risk of serious injury, illness, or death.

Additionally, the scope of stop work orders is no longer limited to a single location and may now extend to other workplaces of the employer if there are reasonable grounds to believe similar unsafe working conditions exist.

Injunctions. Previously, WorkSafeBC had the ability to make an application to the BC Supreme Court to seek an injunction restraining a party from continuing contraventions of workplace safety laws. As with stop work orders, the scope of the available injunctions has expanded and may now restrain parties from carrying on an activity or from working in an industry generally.

Injunctions are available as a last-resort mechanism aimed at individuals who continue to fail to comply with workplace safety laws and will only be issued when WorkSafeBC has exhausted all other enforcement mechanisms.

Employer Citations. A new enforcement tool which will become available in early 2016 is an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 which WorkSafeBC will be able to issue more quickly and efficiently than the penalties it currently uses. Employers may be issued these citations if they commit a non-high risk violation of workplace safety laws. WorkSafeBC has been in consultation with various stakeholders on the new measures, and the enabling regulations are expected to be implemented in early 2016.

Compliance Agreements

One important introduction effective September 15, 2015 is the ability for employers and WorkSafeBC to enter into compliance agreements. These agreements, voluntarily signed by the employers, outline the steps an employer will take in order to meet occupational health and safety standards. Previously, WorkSafeBC employed a 'top-down' approach when it came to workplace safety violations where it would issue a compliance order mandatorily requiring an employer to take one or more specified actions; non-compliance with these orders typically resulted in further sanction. While compliance orders still exist, these agreements function as an alternative.

Compliance agreements are not an automatic right granted to employers; they are offered by WorkSafeBC when it believes it is appropriate to do so. The criteria that an officer will consider before offering a compliance agreement includes:

  • the violation must not be "high-risk" (as defined under WorkSafeBC policies);
  • the officer must believe the employer is likely to fulfill its obligations under the agreement;
  • the employer must not have violated the same provision of the Act or Regulation in the previous 12 months; and
  • no previous compliance agreements with the employer have been cancelled in the last 3 years.

Note that compliance agreements are largely discretionary; in addition to the above criteria, an officer will also consider the employer's overall compliance history and willingness to enter into an agreement, the information provided by workers and union representatives, the overall effectiveness of the employer's workplace safety measures, and the likelihood of another incident occurring.

A compliance agreement will outline the specific measures an employer promises to take to achieve compliance and will provide a timeline for meeting them. Employers who enter into compliance agreements are required to report back to WorkSafeBC. Once satisfied, WorkSafeBC will not take any further enforcement activity in relation to that violation.


Employers would be well-advised to pay close attention to the preliminary investigation requirements discussed above. Even though preliminary, the responsibilities at this stage should not be taken lightly; if an employer is able to identify only some of the unsafe conditions which brought about a workplace incident, or can only describe them in general terms, WorkSafeBC has indicated the interim corrective action may require a full or partial shutdown of a workplace, removing equipment, or reassigning workers. In doing so, WorkSafeBC has signalled it expects employers to be diligent and proactive in conducting incident investigations.

The benefit for employers, however, is that in addition to complying with workplace safety laws, a proactive and diligent workplace safety investigation makes for good practice. When conducted properly, a robust incident investigation will help employers by providing an accurate and reliable picture of the facts, securing any evidence they may later require, and may ultimately help demonstrate due diligence in order to avoid an administrative penalty. If an administrative penalty is issued nonetheless, it is important to note that the time to request a review has been halved from 90 to 45 days, and exceptions are granted in limited circumstances.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
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).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions