Occupational Health & Safety
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) has started publishing an electronic newsletter - the Labour Focus Newsletter - that federally regulated employers will want to read.
Volume 1, Issue 1 of the newsletter was published last week and includes a bulletin from the Labour Program that discusses the H1N1 flu virus (the swine flu) and an employer's obligation under the Canada Labour Code, Part II to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace.
As I noted in a post a few weeks ago, this article from the Vancouver Sun also contains advice for employers on how to respond to the virus and other outbreaks like it.
Given that the courts require employers to provide a safe workplace, how should employers respond to the swine flu outbreak? An article in yesterday's Vancouver Sun by a senior labour and employment lawyer provides some practical advice.
Ontario introduces Bill 168 which will require employers to take action to combat workplace violence and harassment
The Ontario government introduced Bill 168 on April 20, 2009. If passed, the Bill will amend the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and set out requirements that employer's must follow to combat violence and certain forms of harassment in the workplace. You can read more about Bill 168 in an article written by McCarthy Tetrault that can be found here.
WorksafeBC released its 2008 Penalty Report today.
According to the accompanying media release, WorkSafeBC imposed 152 penalties in 2008 totaling more than $2.7 million for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act (the Act). Individual penalties ranged from $1,000 up to $150,000".
A fatality was involved in 13 of the incidents that led to penalities, including the penalty for $150,000.
There have been a few new developments concerning smoking in the workplace over the last 12 months.
First, new regulations under the Tobacco Control Act came into effect March 31, 2008. Among other things, the new regulations ban:
- Smoking in all indoor public spaces and work places (with exemptions made for the ceremonial use of tobacco by Aboriginal people); and
- Smoking within three metres of public and workplace doorways, open windows or air intakes.
Second, sections 4.81 and 4.82 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (under the Workers Compensation Act), which relate to environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace, were amended in order to harmonize the OHSR with the new tobacco laws. The OHSR amendments came into effect on January 1, 2009.
Third, WorksafeBC issued revised (as of January 1, 2009) guidelines on "Controlling exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)" that reflect the above developments. read more »
New "Violence Prevention in the Work Place" regulations impose duties on federally-regulated employers
Part XX of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, entitled Violence Prevention in the Work Place, came into effect on May 28, 2008.
The Part XX provisions prescribe steps that federally-regulated employers in Canada must implement in their work place to protect employees against violence.
The definition of "work place violence" is any action, conduct, threat or gesture of a person towards an employee in their work place that can reasonably be expected to cause harm, injury or illness to that employee.
Stikeman Elliot's May 2008 Employment Law Update is on "The Whistleblower and his Obligation of Loyalty". The article discusses the duty of loyalty owed by an employee in Quebec under article 2088 of the Quebec Civil Code and a case in which an employee was dismissed for disclosing to a journalist the presence of asbestos in government buildings and the existence of cases of asbestosis.
Starting July 26, 2007, employers in British Columbia must provide young or new workers with a health and safety orientation and training specific to the workplace, and must record and document that training.
A young worker is anyone under the age of 25, while a new worker can be any age and includes workers who are:
- new to the workplace;
- returning to a workplace where the hazards in that workplace have changed during the worker's absence;
- affected by a change in the hazards of a workplace; or
- relocated to a new workplace if the hazards in that workplace are different from the hazards in the worker's previous workplace.
Employers have had these responsibilities before, but for the first time they are collected in one place and detailed in clear, concise language.
The new requirments are a result of amendments in sections 3.22 to 3.25 (Part 3) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. read more »
The Nova Scotia government issued the following news release yesterday:
Workplace Violence Strategy Released
A government strategy to reduce the number of violent incidents at work is being unveiled to Nova Scotians today, April 26.
The Workplace Violence Prevention Strategy covers education and awareness, legislation and regulation, compliance promotion, partnership development, information sharing, and evaluation and research. It was developed with public input, and will continue to reflect the experiences and advice of workplaces that implement it. read more »