|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, court cases and board rulings that we covered in 2012 in the Safety Compliance Insider.
LAW OF THE YEAR
In April, the CSST released a guide, Health and safety on board fishing vessels. And to prevent fatalities as a result of falls overboard, the CSST now requires, as of the 2012 lobster fishing season, helpers to wear lifejackets at all times on deck and at least one way to identify a worker who falls overboard.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Videotaping of Safety Violations at Construction Site Upheld
After getting an anonymous call, CSST inspectors went to a construction site and filmed the workers. The employer was later convicted of safety violations. At trial, the videotape was introduced as evidence. The employer appealed, arguing that by videotaping the site, the inspectors engaged in a criminal investigation. The appeals court ruled that whether the inspectors were actively searching for evidence for criminal purposes was a question of fact, which had to be left to the trial judge. And even if the employer was right, it wouldn’t have affected the case’s outcome. When workers are on a construction site, they can be seen by anyone passing through the neighborhood. And even if the video evidence was excluded, the investigators would still be able to testify about the violations they’d seen. So the appeals court found that there wasn’t an error of law in the trial court’s decision [Construction Canadienne 2000 inc. c. Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail,  QCCA 333 (CanLII), Feb. 15, 2012].
OTHER NOTABLES CASES
Pregnant Substitute Teacher Tried to Abuse Reassignment Right
The Act respecting Occupational health and safety permits the reassignment of a pregnant worker and payment of CSST benefits if she can’t be reassigned and must cease work. An occasional substitute teacher became pregnant and got two certificates stating that her working conditions could represent a risk to her baby and herself. On ten subsequent occasions during her pregnancy, she received offers to work as a substitute teacher. Each time, she accepted the offer but immediately claimed that she couldn’t work due to her protective reassignment. She then tried to collect CSST benefits. The Commision sur les lésions professionnelles ruled that the substitute’s employment contract existed only during the period of the substitution and not during the periods in between each job. Here, she accepted offers for substitution work but never provided any work. And how can someone, in good faith, offer her services to an employer knowing in advance she won’t be able to render them and then ask to be compensated for said services? The court agreed and upheld this ruling [Dionne c. Commission scolaire des Patriotes,  QCCA 609 (CanLII), April 2, 2012].
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