The Bill 160 Translation Service: From Legalese to English
OHS Enforcement Policies
What the Bill Says:
3. Section 6 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:
(3) A Director may establish written policies respecting the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the Act.
First of all, a “Director” means a person appointed as an inspector to administer and enforce the Act.
Section 6 gives the Deputy Minister’s authority to appoint individuals as Directors.
The proposed addition of subsection (3) would give appointed Directors a new power: authority to create written policies on interpreting, administering and enforcing the Act.
Impact on You
Sounds like a bunch of gobbled-gook. But it has potentially enormous ramifications. That’s because Directors could use this new authority to issue written policies to implement sweeping changes in OHS enforcement recommended by the Dean Report, potentially including:
- After-hours and weekend inspections especially of construction and other sites that employ “vulnerable workers”;
- Guidelines on laying charges against employers for engaging in reprisals against workers who raise safety concerns;
- New penalties for violations perhaps including Administrative Monetary Penalties for wilful and repeat offences;
The new powers could also be used for purposes that are positive to employers, such as:
- Cleaning up abuses by individual MOL inspectors;
- Ensuring more consistency from inspector to inspector; and
- Development of outreach programs designed to help employers understand and comply with the law rather than trying to catch them in violations.
What to Expect
Some experts believe that the new Section 6(3) isn’t necessary and that the MOL already has the authority to implement these Dean initiatives under the existing OHS Act. But if and when Bill 160 is adopted, all argument will be removed. And once Section 6(3) is on the books, the MOL will be able to implement sweeping new inspection and enforcement policies unilaterally without going through the legislative process.
If you find giving the MOL so much authority a troublesome prospect, join the club.