|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
On Jan. 1, 2013, a new regulation took effect that empowers OHS officers to issue summary offence tickets for OHS violations to employers, contractors, owners, suppliers, supervisors, the self-employed and workers. Tickets can be issued for 71 types of safety violations, with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
OTHER NOTABLE REGULATORY CHANGES
Changes to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2012, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2014:
New Late Night Retail Regulations
New regulations designed to protect workers working at late night retail premises, such as gas stations and convenience stores, took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Employers with workplaces open to the public between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. must, among other things, conduct hazard assessments and have a check-in system and written check-in procedure as well as a personal emergency transmitter for workers who work alone during late night hours.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Health Region Fined $154,000 after Carbon Monoxide Kills Three Seniors
At a seniors home, residents and workers began getting sick. After someone suggested that it might be a gas leak, they opened some windows. But some people closed the windows because they were cold. When they finally decided to evacuate, it took an hour to start emptying the building. As a result, three elderly residents died and 22 residents, five workers and two visitors were treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the home because they weren’t required under the building code. The health region pleaded guilty to two OHS violations for failing to ensure workers were properly trained on the boiler and ventilation systems and to arrange regular inspections and was fined $154,000 [Saskatoon Health Region, Govt. News Release, July 16, 2012].
Driver Convicted of Off Duty DUI Should Be Restored to Prior Position
A driver for a transportation company pleaded guilty to DUI of his personal vehicle outside of work and was barred from driving for a year. He immediately told his supervisor and took a non-driving position at a sizable pay cut. When his licence was restored, he applied for reinstatement to an available driver’s position. But the risk committee reviewed his DUI conviction and refused to consider reinstatement for five years. The union filed a grievance. The arbitrator found that the risk committee should’ve reviewed the driver’s criminal conviction as soon as he reported it. By waiting, it denied the driver the ability to make informed decisions about his future with the company, such as whether he should stay and take a big pay cut. And given the driver’s record and employment history, the committee’s decision was unreasonable, said the arbitrator. So it ordered the company to reinstate him to a driver’s position subject to drug and alcohol testing for 18 months [Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1374 v. Saskatchewan Transportation Co. (McDonald Grievance),  S.L.A.A. No. 15, Aug. 28, 2013].
Company Fined $46,000 after Worker Dies in Fall Through Ice on Equipment
A worker was clearing a drill pad with a crawler tractor at an exploration drilling site on Cree Lake when it broke through the ice. He died. The drilling company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that all work was sufficiently and competently supervised and was fined $46,000 [D.J. Drilling (2004) Ltd., Govt. News Release, July 8, 2012].
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