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Occupational Health & Safety

WorkSafeBC imposes record total penalties of $4.4 million in 2009 against employers

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

WorkSafeBC imposed a record total penalty amount of more than $4.4 million in 2009 against employers for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act.

Key facts set out in the News Release, 2009 Penalty Report and Backgrounder issued by WorkSafeBC on March 11, 2010, include:

2009 Penalty Report  read more »

Bill C-487: An Act to prevent psychological harassment in the workplace and to amend Canada Labour Code tabled

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

A private members bill - C-276: An Act to prevent psychological harassment in the workplace and to amend the Canada Labour Code - was tabled in the House of Commons today by Brian Masee, a New Democratic Party of Canada Member of Parliament.

The text of the bill can be found here. Mr. Masse's January 29, 2010 news release on the bill can be read here.

Similar bills have been tabled several times previously, starting in 2003. Private members bills have little chance of being passed into legislation.

Update on the Bill C-45 health and safety amendments to the Criminal Code

Jurisdiction: - Quebec
Sector: - Manufacturing

The 2004 "Bill C-45" amendments to the Criminal Code opened the door for an organization to be charged criminally for not meeting its workplace health and safety obligations.

There has only been one criminal conviction under the amendments since they were introduced, according to an article on "Criminal Negligence and the Corporation" in the winter edition of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association magazine written by Toronto lawyer Pradeep Chand.

Transpave, Inc. , a concrete block manufacturer near Montreal, pled guilty to criminal negligence causing death in December 2007. The charges were brought in relation to a 2005 workplace accident in which a 23 year-old Transpave employee was crushed to death while trying to clear a jam in a machine.

Transpave was subsequently fined $100,000 by the Quebec court, which was the amount that Crown counsel and the lawyer for the company had jointly agreed was appropriate.

(Note: The federal government's Plain Language Guide to Bill C-45, which appears to have been written before it was passed, can be found here).

Ontario's "10th Annual Employment Law Summit"

I attended the Law Society of Upper Canada's "10th Annual Employment Law Summit" in Toronto today.

The keynote speaker was the Honourable Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein of the Supreme Court of Canada. He focused his comments on two recent cases in which the SCC has addressed fiduciary duties in the employment context:  read more »

Appeal Court rules that franchisee and its employees were carrying out Petro-Canada’s work for purposes of WCB Act

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Oil & Gas - Retail Trade

In Petro-Canada v. British Columbia (Workers' Compensation Board), 2009 BCCA 396, the BC Court of Appeal ruled that a franchisee and its employees were carrying out Petro-Canada’s work for purposes of WCB Act.  You can read a summary of the case ("Vicarious Liability - Franchisor as "Employer"") by Davis LLP here.

HRSDC launches newsletter for federally regulated employers

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.

Swine flu and and the obligation of employers to provide a safe workplace

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

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

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

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.