The US just ended a contentious national election. So we asked readers what role they thought politics plays in Canada in terms of workplace safety regulation. You said politics:
- Plays a major role (45%)
- Has some impact (35%)
- Has little impact (20%).
So what drives politicians to enact new safety regulations or modify existing ones?
Clearly, safety incidents that get a lot of media coverage and spur public—and union—protests often lead to increased or new safety regulation. Examples:
- Westray mining disaster – C-45
- Lori Dupont murder – Bill 168/workplace violence requirements in Ontario
- Christmas Eve scaffolding tragedy – Ontario OHS reform movement/Bill 160
- Death of gas station attendant Grant DePatie – BC’s Grant’s Law, which sets requirements for working alone at night.
Someone shouldn’t have to die before legislators decide workplace safety laws need improvement. But a tragedy often seems to be necessary before politicians take action.
Some jurisdictions, such as MB and SK, take a more proactive approach. They require regular reviews of the OHS laws and their enforcement (and sometimes the workers’ comp laws, too). And such reviews generally lead to changes in workplace safety requirements.
What do you think should be driving changes in the OHS laws? Do you think a proactive or reactive approach better protects workers?