The Federal Court has decided that federally-regulated employers
are not required to conduct inspections of places not under their
control where their employees work. The decision will be a
relief to federal employers whose employees regularly work away
from the employer's office.
The court rejected letter carriers' claim that Canada Post
was required to ensure that inspections were conducted of public
areas including the letter carriers' routes.
The provision in issue was section section 125(1)(z.12) of the
Canada Labour Code which provides:
125. (1) Without restricting the generality of section 124,
every employer shall, in respect of every work place controlled by
the employer and, in respect of every work activity carried out by
an employee in a work place that is not controlled by the employer,
to the extent that the employer controls the activity,
. . .
(z.12) ensure that the work place committee or the health
and safety representative inspects each month all or part of the
work place, so that every part of the work place is inspected at
least once each year;
The Court decided that that provision required inspections
of only workplaces actually controlled by the employer – not
workplaces, such as letter routes, that are not under the
employer's control. The Court upheld a federal Appeals
Officer's decision stating that employers cannot be required to
inspect workplaces over which they have no control and thus no
opportunity to fix hazards identified in the inspection.
The Court concluded:
"The Appeals Officer recognized that Parliament
intended to give the broadest possible protection to employees
including to those performing work in a place which the employer
may not control. In my view the Appeals Officer's
interpretation of subsection 125(1) and paragraph 125(1)(z.12)
demonstrates sensitivity to preserving the broad nature of the
employer's obligations to ensure the health and safety of its
employees without placing obligations upon the employer that the
latter would be unable to fulfill."
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