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Occupational Health & Safety

Update on law concerning smoking in the workplace in BC

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

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

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

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.

The federal government has issued a publication on Part XX. Among other things, it sets out what an employer should include in its work place violence prevention policy.  read more »

"The Whistleblower and his Obligation of Loyalty"

Jurisdiction: - Quebec

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.

"Attendance Management Guide"

Law firm Hicks Morley has published a comprehensive "Attendance Management Guide" that addresses the range of legal issues an employer must consider/address when managing attendance problems. 

New requirements in BC to train workers who are young or new to the workplace

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

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 »

Nova Scotia government releases "Workplace Violence Strategy"

Jurisdiction: - Nova Scotia

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 »

"Tell Me Where It Hurts”: Workplace Sexual Harassment Compensation and the Regulation of Hysterical Victims"

Jurisdiction: - Quebec

Finn Makela has written a paper entitled, “Tell Me Where It Hurts”: Workplace Sexual Harassment Compensation and the Regulation of Hysterical Victims" that was published in the McGill Law Journal (2006) 51 McGill L.J. 27. Ms. Makela is a lawyer at Melançon, Marceau, Grenier et Sciortinoin Montreal.

The paper's summary provides:  read more »

New legislation prohibits smoking in Ontario workplaces

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion issued this news release today:

Ontario Goes Smoke-Free

Historic Law To Protect Ontarians Health

QUEEN'S PARK - Ontarians' right to be free from second-hand smoke is now law.

"The McGuinty government is on the side of Ontarians who are concerned about their health. This unprecedented action is the cornerstone of our Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy," said Minister of Health Promotion Jim Watson. "Tobacco causes about one preventable death in Ontario every 30 minutes; that's16,000 lives in Ontario every year."  read more »

Arbitrator upholds dismissal of 19 year employee who made reference to "going postal" and obtaining shotgun

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Transportation

Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission [2005] O.L.A.A. No. 743 (Springate) (December 28, 2005)

"The Hostile Workplace and Employer Liability"

A lawyer at Davis LLP has written a paper entitled "The Hostile Workplace and Employer Liability".

This very comprehensive paper, "examines some of the protections the British Columbia Courts have identified to address psychological harassment in the non-union workplace, including looking at the limits of those protections." Specifically, the author considers:

  1. claims in contract, and in particular, claims for constructive dismissal and consequential damages;
  2. claims in tort, and in particular the claim of tort in intentional infliction of mental suffering; and
  3. claims under statute, and in particular the availability of workers' compensation benefits for stress leave.

The paper also contains on overview of Quebec's psychological harassment provisions.