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British Columbia Employer Advisor Keeping Employers Posted on Developments in Labour and Employment Law

Category Archives: Occupational Health and Safety

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These heels weren’t made for workin’… BC bans mandatory high heeled shoes in workplace

Posted in Discrimination, Employer Obligations, Human Rights, Legislative Changes, Legislative Requirements, Occupational Health and Safety, WorkSafeBC

On April 7, 2017, the BC Government issued a press release on having fulfilled its promise to ban mandatory high heels from BC workplaces. The change was made by amending section 8.22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (“OHS Regulation”), and is explained by WorkSafeBC’s recently adopted OHS Guideline G8.22Footwear regarding section 8.22 of the OHS Regulation.

The Guideline provides that “footwear must both allow the workers to perform their work safely and provide the protection required for the particular environment.” Employers must conduct an assessment of the risks present in their particular workplace and duties of the employee … Continue Reading

New WorkSafeBC regulations for joint occupational health and safety committees effective April 3, 2017

Posted in Employer Obligations, Legislative Changes, Occupational Health and Safety, WorkSafeBC

In British Columbia, a workplace with 20 or more workers must have a joint occupational health and safety committee (“Committee”), and a workplace with 10-19 workers must have a worker health and safety representative. Effective April 3, 2017, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation will require the following:

  1. Employers must ensure that a written evaluation is conducted annually to measure the effectiveness of the Committee. Section 3.26(b) of the Regulation sets out who can conduct the evaluation, and section 3.26(3) of the Regulation sets out what information must be covered by the evaluation. WorkSafeBC reports that it 
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Canada is one step closer to legalizing cannabis and workplace safety is top of mind

Posted in Legislative Changes, Occupational Health and Safety

On November 30, 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation presented its Final Report to the federal government. The Report sets out recommendations to the federal government “on the design of a new system to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.” This brings the federal government one step closer to legalizing cannabis in Canada.

The full report, titled A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada: The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, is now available for download.  Noteworthy to employers are the Task Force’s … Continue Reading

Have your say – potential changes to Workers’ Compensation Act regulations

Posted in Legislative Changes, Legislative Requirements, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC recently announced public consultation and hearings into proposed changes to regulations under the Workers’ Compensation Act, including environmental tobacco smoke, e-cigarette vapour and joint health and safety committees. Details of the proposed changes, together with explanatory notes, can be found at the foregoing link.

WorkSafeBC is accepting public feedback until October 7, 2016, which can be provided online, by email, fax or by mail (details in the link provided).

A number of public hearings will also be held throughout British Columbia, commencing September 21, 2016.

Consider taking this opportunity to review the potential impacts of the proposed changes … Continue Reading

New Investigation Requirements, On-The-Spot Financial Penalties and Work-Stop Orders In Wake Of Babine and Lakeland Sawmill Disasters

Posted in Investigations, Legislative Changes, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

Before the Babine and Lakeland sawmill disasters in 2012, employers were already under an obligation to investigate any workplace incident involving serious injury or death, major structural failure or collapse, major release of a hazardous substance, a blasting accident that caused personal injury, a dangerous incident involving explosive, a diving accident, any accident or other incident that resulted in injury to a worker requiring medical treatment, and any near misses.

Now, as a result of amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA), following Royal Assent to Bill C-9 on May 14, 2015, the manner in which employers carry … Continue Reading

McCarthy Tétrault launches Alberta Employer Advisor blog

Posted in Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions

McCarthy Tétrault launched its 13th blog today, Alberta Employer Advisor, to help clients manage the challenges they face in today’s workplace. The blog provides employers and HR professionals with analysis of the latest legal issues that affect employment-related practices, labour and human resources policies. In addition to providing clients with insights on the implications of new case law, as well as updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments, the blog will be regularly updated with practical tips, specifically relevant in the Alberta marketplace. We encourage you to visit the blog and subscribe for regular updates.… Continue Reading

Holiday Parties – Keep the Season Jolly

Posted in Discrimination, Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Workplace Training

Our colleague in Toronto, Melissa Kennedy, recently posted about the joys and legal perils of workplace holiday parties. Her post is an excellent reminder of best practices every employer should undertake to make sure that a holiday party does not lead to less jolly legal consequences. We reproduce Melissa’s post below.

 

With the holiday season fast approaching, many organizations are in the midst of planning their annual holiday parties, meant to recognize the culmination of a year of hard work by employees and celebrate the holiday season. Although this time of year is marked with celebration and provides … Continue Reading

OH&S Month Part 4: The Loneliest Number? Regulations for Employees Working Alone

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, Workplace Training, WorkSafeBC

Many employees work alone or in isolation, whether from time to time or as a regular part of their work. In addition to an employer’s general statutory obligation to ensure a safe work environment under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have additional specific obligations to protect employees who work alone or in isolation under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the “Regulation”).

Under the Regulations, “working alone or in isolation” means to work in circumstances where assistance would not be readily available to the employee, either in the case of an emergency, or if the employee is injured or … Continue Reading

OH&S Month Part 3: Annual Review Of Your Bullying and Harassment Policies

Posted in Investigations, Litigation, Murphy's Laws of HR, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, Workplace Training, WorkSafeBC

The deadline for compliance with WorkSafeBC’s bullying and harassment policies was last November 1, 2013.  We’d like to remind all BC employers that certain obligations under the policies require an annual review.

As we discussed in an earlier post, the policies set out nine requirements for employers to meet:

 

  1. Develop a policy statement about workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated.
  2. Take steps to prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment.
  3. Develop and implement procedures for reporting bullying and harassment, and specifically provide for reporting an incident when the alleged harasser is the employer, a superviosr
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OH&S Month Part 2: Unsafe Work Refusals, Now Narrower for Federal Workers

Posted in Investigations, Labour Relations, Legislative Changes, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions, Workers Compensation

In every jurisdiction in Canada, employees and employers share the responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. In British Columbia, employers are required by the Workers Compensation Act [WCA], to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others working at their work place, which includes investigating safety risks and advising employees of same, and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate identified risks. Likewise, employees have obligations to protect their own and others’ health and safety, including reporting fit to work, wearing protective equipment, following safety procedures, and reporting any safety risks.

One aspect of … Continue Reading

Introducing Occupational Health & Safety Month!

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, Workplace Training, WorkSafeBC

This month, we introduce a new series focusing on occupational health and safety (“OH&S”) issues to help employers ensure health and safety in the workplace and avoid penalties under the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the “Regulation”).

First, do you have a written Occupational Health & Safety program? The Regulation requires that all employers with a workforce of 50 or more workers, or with 20 or more workers in a workplace with a high or moderate risk of injury must have a written OH&S Program.  (You can find out your workplace’s assigned hazard rating here.)  … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager: Spring Cleaning – Performing an HR Audit

Posted in Discipline, Employment Standards, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Termination, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

Our colleagues in Ontario recently posted a very useful outline of an HR audit that will help BC employers ensure they stay up-to-date and on top of the wide variety of employment-related demands in their operations. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.… Continue Reading

Suncor Loses on Random Alcohol and Drug Testing

Issues about required evidence

Posted in Human Rights, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

The long-awaited arbitration decision is in, and the result is a loss for random alcohol and drug testing.  (See the Decision here and the Dissent here.)

Suncor had tried to implement a random drug and alcohol testing policy with respect to all of its  safety-sensitive employees in the oil sands.  The union resisted and was able to get an injunction from the Alberta courts to prevent implementation of the policy until the arbitration was completed.

A majority of the three member arbitration panel ruled against Suncor.  They found that there was insufficient evidence of a problem with alcohol and … Continue Reading

Teck Allowed to Proceed with Random Testing

New development in drug and alcohol testing

Posted in Employee Obligations, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Teck Coal will be allowed to continue to implement its random alcohol and drug testing policy while the union pursues its grievance to overturn the policy.  Arbitrator Colin Taylor had previously denied the union an interim order to stop implementation of the policy (see our previous post here) and the BC Labour Relations Board has dismissed the union’s appeal of that decision.  The decision is Teck Coal Limited, BCLRB No. B28/2014.

This means Teck will be allowed to follow its policy for now and the matter will go to arbitration for a decision as to whether the policy … Continue Reading

Proposed Employment Law Reform in Ontario

Bill 146 Worth Watching

Posted in Employment Standards, Immigration, Investigations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation

The Ontario government has introduced a bill to make significant changes to employment law in that province.  Every BC employer with employees in Ontario should follow the course of these proposed changes.

As our colleagues in Ontario note, the Bill may not become law under the current government, but the proposals are wide-ranging and follow earlier Law Reform Commission recommendations.  See their analysis here.… Continue Reading

Pick of the Blogs

Items of Interest for BC Employers

Posted in Employee Obligations, Labour Relations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Other McCarthy Tétrault blogs regularly touch on issues of importance for BC employers.  Here is a selection from the last month.

Managing the risks of holiday parties.  The office party season can be interesting.  Think about how you can manage the risks.

It’s flu season.   Tips for dealing with sickness in the workplace.

Trespassing on private property?  Maybe not.  Think picketing and leafleting.  A business’s property rights – and the ability to control trespassing – may not be as clear as you think, especially if the business invites the public on its property or operates in a publicly accessible area.… Continue Reading

Drug and Alcohol Testing: Safety vs. Privacy

Safety Wins For Now

Posted in Labour Relations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Random alcohol and drug testing causes irreparable harm to privacy interests, but not allowing it creates a risk of even greater irreparable harm to safety.  That was the decision reached by an Arbitrator who was asked by a union to make an interim order to prevent the employer from implementing its new testing policy.  (The decision is Teck Coal Limited, Unreported Arbitration Award, May 9, 2013 (Taylor)).

This is NOT a finding that random alcohol and drug testing is allowed.  That is still very much in dispute and this decision was on the narrow issue of whether the employer … Continue Reading

BC Employers Face Bullying and Harassment Deadline

WorkSafeBC Policy Takes Effect November 1

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

It’s not too late, and it’s not too hard to comply, but the deadline is looming.  WorkSafeBC’s policy regarding compliance with the bullying and harassment law enacted in 2012 will come into force on November 1.

We have previously described the legislation, and we have set out a plan for compliance.  We can help employers get ready by November 1, and we can help in the training and the follow up that is required.  Employers can also find help on the WorkSafeBC website which has a toolkit of materials to review and adapt.

 … Continue Reading

Criminal Consequence of Safety Violations

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety

In R. v. Metron Construction Corp., the Ontario Court of Appeal dramatically increased a fine imposed on the defendant Metron following its guilty plea to a charge of criminal negligence causing death, from $200,000 to $750,000.

Metron had entered into an agreement to restore concrete balconies on two highrise buildings. To perform this work, it acquired “swing stages”. Each swing stage was 40 feet long and consisted of four 10 foot long modules held together by plates and bolts. One of the swing stages collapsed at the end of the working day with five workers and a site supervisor on … Continue Reading

November 1 Deadline for Bullying Policy

Policy and Other Steps Required

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC’s requirements for establishing and implementing a policy on bullying and harassment take effect on November 1.

The policy sets out 9 specific requirements and we have previously suggested an approach to ensure you are in compliance as of November 1.

Meanwhile, WorkSafeBC has promised a tool kit and guideline to assist employers.  The tool kit is scheduled for publication on October 2.  You should be able to find it and other resources on the WorkSafeBC website.… Continue Reading

Google Glass Coming to Your Workplace

Are you ready?

Posted in Employee Obligations, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy

Wearable computing is creating quite a stir, and its likely introduction into the workplace is worth preparing for.

Google Glass is still in field trials and not generally available, but already it has been banned from places that don’t want people to be able to compute, take photos, record, access the internet, and generally be a walking computer, through a pair of glasses.

Privacy authorities in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Israel are concerned.  They have written to Google to remind them of the law on collecting, using and disclosing personal information, and to chastise Google for not … Continue Reading

Worker Cannot Sue for Workplace Injury

"Historic trade-off" affirmed

Posted in Employee Obligations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety

Workers’ rights to sue over workplace accidents are severly restricted by workers compensation schemes across the country.  Statutes like the Workers Compensation Act of BC provide workers with access to an insurance scheme that does not depend on finding fault or the ability of the employer to pay for a workplace injury, illness or death.  But in exchange, workers cannot sue the employer or other workers.  That has been described as the “historic trade-off” and the Supreme Court of Canada recently re-affirmed the principle.

The case of Marine Services International v. Ryan Estate is mostly about the interplay of federal … Continue Reading

Bullying and Harassment Policy

November 1 Effective Date

Posted in Investigations, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

Employers in British Columbia should be thinking about how to meet WorkSafeBC policies on workplace bullying and harassment that take effect November 1, 2013.  (See our previous posts on the policy and the new legislation.)

WorkSafeBC has promised new guidelines and a toolkit to help employers comply, but there are some things to start thinking about.

The policies set out nine requirements for employers to meet:

  1. Develop a policy statement about workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated.
  2. Take steps to prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment.
  3. Develop and implement procedures for reporting bullying and harassment,
Continue Reading