|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, court cases and board rulings that we covered in 2013 in the OHS Insider newsletter.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Harassment Wasn’t an ‘Unusual Danger’ Justifying Refusal under the OHS Laws
A biologist for the government complained of harassment by a co-worker to her manager. As a result, the co-worker was suspended three times. The biologist finally refused to work because of the continuing harassment. A Safety Officer investigated and concluded that the refusal was justified because harassment constituted an “unusual danger.” The government appealed. The court noted that the OHS law in the territory doesn’t address workplace harassment or violence. So the Officer overstepped his authority. But the court observed that “the attitude to workplace harassment has changed over the years.” And although there are arguments to support the inclusion of workplace violence and harassment provisions in the OHS laws, it’s ultimately for the Legislature to decide whether to do so, explained the court [Nunavut (Minister of the Environment) v. WSCC,  NUCJ 11 (CanLII), July 16, 2013].
Charges Against Construction Company in Tank Fire Case Resolved
Two workers were doing cleaning work inside a mainly empty fuel tank when a fire erupted. They were able to get out without serious injury. The construction company they worked for was charged with eight violations of the Safety Act. On the eve of trial, the defence and government agreed to an “alternative measures agreement,” which required the company’s officers and directors, supervisors, managers and workers to complete designated safety courses. The company must also provide an orientation plan for new workers for each job site and/or job type to the WSCC [Nunavut Construction Ltd., Sept. 19, 2013].
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