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Category Archives: Workers Compensation

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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

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
Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

WorkSafeBC Announces Increase in Workers’ Compensation Premiums for 2014

Posted in Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC recently announced that there will be rate hikes again in 2014.  This will mean that most employers in British Columbia can expect to pay higher premium costs for the second year in a row.  WorkSafeBC projects that employers will pay an average base premium rate of 4.8% more in 2014.  This is close to the increase employers experienced last year (5% in 2013).  In dollar terms, this means that on average, the 2014 average premium rate will be $1.70 for every $100 of assessable payroll (which is up 7 cents from $1.63 in 2013).

WorkSafeBC reports that the two … 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

Why DSM-5 is Important to Employers

Posted in Discrimination, Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

The long awaited DSM-5 has arrived and the controversy rages. Meanwhile, no matter what employers may think about the changes, they have no choice but to deal with the inevitable fallout.

DSM-5 is the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” as newly revised from the previous DSM-IV. It was formally introduced this week by the American Psychiatric Association and it becomes the authoritative source in North America for diagnosing mental disorders. (An earlier post talked about some of the controversy in the making of DSM-5.)

Why is it important to employers in BC?

First – it is authoritative – … Continue Reading

WorkSafeBC Approves New Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policies

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors has just published 3 new Occupational Health and Safety policies concerning workplace bullying and harassment.  The following new policies take effect on November 1, 2013:

 

 

·    Employer Duties – Workplace Bullying and Harassment – D3-115-2;

·    Worker Duties – Workplace Bullying and Harassment – D3-116-1; and

·    Supervisor Duties – Workplace Bullying and Harassment – D3-117-2.

The new policies can be reviewed at: WorkSafeBC Regulation and Policy.

The new policies set out the general duties and obligations of employers, workers and supervisors in connection with bulling and harassment in the workplace.

Effective November … Continue Reading

Bullying and Harassment, or Not

Time to Step Back and Consider

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Obligations, Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

Tragic cases and more mundane legislative changes have everyone talking about bullying and harassment.  For employers it is necessary to take a step back and consider what is not workplace bullying and harassment.

In BC in particular, with the advent of the new mental disorder provisions of the Workers Compensation Act, there has been a surge of uninformed discussion creating an expectation of many employees that anything they don’t like in the workplace can be turned into a claim with WorkSafeBC.

This is largely the fault of Bill 14  (the legislation that changed section 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Continue Reading

“Workplace Investigations – Part 3”

Posted in Discipline, Discrimination, Human Rights, Investigations, Just Cause, Termination, Workers Compensation, Wrongful Dismissal

In earlier posts, here and here, we discussed some legal issues that arise in workplace investigations. In this post, we will discuss some of the privacy issues that can arise.

The investigator is often asked by nervous employees whether their identity and the information they give will be kept confidential. This cannot be guaranteed.  Employees being interviewed should be made to understand that the information they give may be disclosed, in whole or in part, to other parties in an investigation as necessary.

It may not be necessary to share the identity of witnesses with other parties when, for … Continue Reading

Workplace Investigations – Part 2

Posted in Damages, Discipline, Human Rights, Investigations, Just Cause, Termination, Workers Compensation, Wrongful Dismissal

In an earlier post, we discussed when employers may wish to conduct workplace investigations.  In this post we’ll discuss who should conduct the investigation.

Being lawyers, we usually have a quick answer to this:  legal counsel. We recognize, however, that clients don’t have unlimited funds.  So practically speaking, each situation will have to be assessed on its own facts.

In situations where a simple fact finding determination and assessment of credibility are all that is needed, the skilled manager can suffice, with counsel in the background to point them in the right direction and give legal advice based on any … Continue Reading

Mental Illness at Work

New Diagnoses May Affect Employers

Posted in Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

A recent piece in the Vancouver Sun highlights some concerns with new mental illness diagnoses that likely are coming to your workplace.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is being revised.  When DSM V comes out next May we will see new mental disorders and broadened definitions of existing disorders.  It’s important because the DSM is basically the “bible” of psychiatry and is relied on by the medical profession, insurers and regulators for identifying mental illness and for verifying specific diagnoses.  For one example, the DSM is specifically referred to in BC’s Workers Compensation Act and will be … Continue Reading

Employee Responsibility for Safety

Charge for failing to report unsafe work

Posted in Employee Obligations, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

An employee in Ontario is facing a charge under that province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.  It is not for causing an injury.  It is not for participating in unsafe work practices.  He is being charged for failing to report an unsafe work situation that he observed.

This is not a BC case, so it does not have direct application to employers in BC.  But it is remarkable as an example of putting some teeth behind the often forgotten duty of both employers and employees to work safely and promote safe work practices.

We know that employers always have … Continue Reading

Month in Review

Posted in Accommodation, Age, Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Damages, Discipline, Discrimination, Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Family Status, Human Capital, Human Rights, Immigration, Investigations, Just Cause, Labour Relations, Litigation, Murphy's Laws of HR, Privacy, Recruiting, Termination, Unions, US vs.Canadian Employment Law, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation, Wrongful Dismissal

The bloggers of BC Employer Advisor issued our first Month in Review to summarize our most recent posts.

Visit the summary here.

 … Continue Reading

Mental Stress, Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Discrimination, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

The British Columbia government has introduced legislation to modify the WorkSafe BC approach to mental stress, and to compensate for bullying and harassment in the workplace.

The proposed amendment to the Workers Compensation Act (British Columbia) is significant and will result in new types of claims for compensation under the Act.  It is hard to predict the full impact, but it is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars per year.

The important change is in the test for determining whether the mental disorder is compensable.  Under the current law, workers can only claim for “an acute Continue Reading