|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, court cases and board rulings that we covered in 2013 in the OHS Insider newsletter.
[box]Newfoundland and Labrador[/box]
CASE OF THE YEAR
Largest Fine in Province’s History Imposed on Mine for Worker’s Death
A mine worker died after falling almost seven metres when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed. Another worker was seriously injured. The mining company pleaded guilty to three violations of the OHS Act. The government asked for a $500,000 fine. But the court fined the mine $350,000, which was still the largest fine ever imposed in a safety case in the province [The Iron Ore Company of Canada, Dec. 31, 2012].
Workers’ Comp Law Bars Negligence Lawsuit in Death of Fishermen
Two brothers from NL died when their fishing vessel capsized on the way back from a fishing trip. Their widows and dependents got compensation under the workers’ comp system. They then sued various parties for negligence. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing it was barred by workers’ comp law. The WHSCC ruled that workers’ comp law did bar the lawsuit and the Supreme Court of Canada agreed. The fishermen died in the course of their employment and so the workers’ comp law applied. And the bar against workers suing employers applied to all employers who contribute to the workers’ comp system—not just those in a direct employment relationship with these particular workers. Lastly, the Court found that the Commission’s ruling was reasonable and didn’t conflict with federal maritime law [Marine Services International Ltd. v. Ryan Estate,  SCC 44 (CanLII), Aug. 2, 2013].
Company Penalized $40,000 for Serious Injuries to Bystander by Forklift
At a wharf, a fisherman who wasn’t a company employee was struck by a forklift and sustained serious injuries that severely restricted his mobility. The company pleaded guilty to two OHS violations, including failing to conduct the undertaking so that persons not in their employ weren’t exposed to hazards. The court fined it $35,000 and ordered it to contribute $5,000 for the purpose of public education [Barry Group Inc., Govt. News Release, July 26, 2013].
Worker & Company Convicted and Fined for Unsafe Operation of Equipment
An excavation company’s worker operated an excavator in an unsafe manner while removing asphalt from a parking lot that was being repaved. No one was injured. The company was convicted of two OHS violations and fined $6,000. The worker, who had both operator and supervisory duties, was also convicted of two safety offences and fined $2,000 [Farrell’s Excavating Ltd., Govt. News Release, Dec. 18, 2012].
Court Restricts Environmental Protesters to Safety Zone
Environmental protesters were interfering with the construction of a hydro project by blockading the site. The project developer asked the court for a permanent injunction confining the protesters to a “designated safety zone.” The court issued the injunction, noting the presence of protesters at the construction site endangered not only the protesters but also the workers there. Thus, the establishment of a safety zone for protesters was reasonable. The court also established a “protest-free” buffer zone near the access road to the site for safety reasons [Nalcor Energy v. NunatuKavut Community Council Inc.,  CanLII 73234 (NL SCTD), Nov. 27, 2012].
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