|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, court cases and board rulings that we covered in 2013 in the OHS Insider newsletter.
LAW OF THE YEAR
Amendments to the province’s OHS Act, which will take effect on June 1, 2014:
OTHER NOTABLE REGULATORY CHANGES
Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act, which will take effect on June 1, 2014, clarify and modernize employer and worker obligations to report injuries and establish clearer limitation periods for claims.
Safety Training Requirements
New safety training requirements took effect on April 1 for operators of private trucks working on highway projects and contracts. Such operators must complete OHS Orientation, WHMIS training and Work Area Traffic Control Manual Awareness Training. They’re also required to perform a daily pre-trip inspection on their trucks. And contractors must confirm that operators have taken the required training.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Worker Fired for Safety Infraction Gets Nearly $60,000 in Damages
After a near miss involving other workers, the employer warned all staff that violating safety rules would lead to termination. Afterwards, a 23-year employee reached through a safety curtain on the assembly line to adjust a bottle when the equipment activated, cutting two of his fingers. The employer fired him; he claimed wrongful dismissal. The court noted that although there was no evidence of the type of safety training given at the plant, the employer seemed to take safety seriously. But termination of the worker based on this safety incident was too strong of a response and not proportionate. So the court ordered the employer to pay him almost $60,000 in damages [Capson v. Amcor Packaging Canada Inc.,  N.B.J. No. 172, June 24, 2013].
Employer Fined $72,050 after Worker Is Crushed to Death by Bale of Paper
Back Injury Suffered in Stuck Elevator Was Covered by Workers’ Comp
On her way to take a break, a worker got trapped in an elevator for four hours, during which she either stood, crouched or sat on the floor. Afterwards, she started suffering back pain and was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Her workers’ comp claim was denied. But the Appeals Tribunal ruled that her injury was work-related. She was injured on the employer’s premises, during her shift and while making reasonable and appropriate use of the employer’s facilities, i.e., the elevator [20136736 (Re),  CanLII 7328 (NB WHSCC), Feb. 11, 2013].
Employer Fined $12,000 for Worker’s Burns from Improperly Modified Line
A maintenance crew tried to cool a partially plugged and overheating line containing a liquid by-product from the pulp process by adding an auxiliary line to the system’s cooler unit. To do so, they modified fittings and used coupling mechanisms not according to industry standards. When they charged the line, pressure forced the hose off the modified fitting and a worker was burned by the liquid. The employer pleaded guilty to an OHS violation and was fined $12,000 [AV Nackawic Inc., Govt. News Release, April 24, 2013].
Lockout Violation Results in Hand Injury & $10,000 Fine
To release a stuck bin on a lumber sorting line, a worker locked out every part of the machine except the hydraulics controlling the bin’s movement. He entered the stuck bin and hit it with a sledgehammer to release it. But the bin moved upward, catching his hand between the bin and the frame and causing serious injury. The employer pleaded guilty to a lockout violation and was fined $10,000 [J.D. Irving Ltd., Govt. News Release, Aug. 15, 2013].
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