|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
New Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, which took effect on June 12, 2013, contain several new and amended requirements and replace the Blasting Safety Regulations, Fall Protection and Scaffolding Regulations, Occupational Safety General Regulations and Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Regulations.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Inn Penalized More than $75,000 for Young Boy’s Death
A 12-year-old boy was riding his bicycle near an inn undergoing renovations when he was run over by a boom truck and killed. The company that owns the inn pleaded guilty to failing to take adequate precautions to protect pedestrians in the area and was fined more than $28,000. The court also ordered it to spend $25,000 on OHS training and to donate about $21,000 to various organizations [5823 NWT Ltd., May 16, 2013].
Smell of Pot in Truck Wasn’t Enough to Require Laborer to Take a Drug Test
A supervisor thought he smelled marijuana in a city truck in which a laborer was the passenger. He asked the laborer to take a drug test. The laborer refused, saying he smoked pot outside of work. The city suspended and then fired him. An arbitrator ruled that the city didn’t have just cause to fire the laborer and ordered it to reinstate him, so the city appealed. The city policy permitted drug tests when a supervisor had reasonable cause to believe a worker was using drugs. Here, the supervisor merely thought he smelled pot in the truck, which alone wasn’t enough to justify a request for a drug test [Halifax (Regional Municipality) v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 108,  NSSC 164 (CanLII), May 28, 2013].
Workers’ Comp Claim for Stress Due to Workplace Fatality Rejected
A worker filed a workers’ comp claim for mental stress he said was the result of exposure to a workplace fatality. But the Appeals Tribunal rejected the claim. The worker wasn’t present when the fatality occurred. In addition, although he found his job stressful both before and after the workplace fatality, there was little, if any, evidence that his general stress levels increased after the tragedy. And because there was no evidence that he suffered an acute reaction to the fatality, his claim wasn’t compensable, concluded the Tribunal [2012-697-AD (Re),  CanLII 80890 (NS WCAT), Dec. 12, 2012].
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