Justice system failed the victims of Radiohead stage collapse

October 08, 2017 - by: Norm Keith 0 COMMENTS

by Norm Keith

On September 5, 2017, Justice Nelson of the Ontario Court of Justice stayed all charges against the accused in the deadly stage collapse at the Radiohead concert in Downsview Park on June 16, 2012. These charges under the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) are the latest in a series of serious regulatory and criminal charges across Canada that have been stayed for unreasonable delay as a result of the Jordan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Radiohead, a British band, was scheduled to perform at a concert in Toronto at Downsview Park. A number of hours before the start of the concert, the stage superstructure collapsed. Scott Johnson, a drum technician was fatally injured. Others were seriously injured.

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Upgrading your occupational health and safety management systems

May 07, 2017 - by: Cathy Chandler 0 COMMENTS

by Cathy Chandler

Two workers die each day in Canada from a work-related accident or disease. Hundreds more experience a work-related injury, according to the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada 2015 Statistical Report. The statistics are not improving significantly despite an increased focus from regulators, unions, and industry associations on improving occupational health and safety systems. Is the implementation of a more effective occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) the key to accident prevention?

An OHSMS provides a systematic way to identify hazards and control risks while maintaining assurance that these risk controls are effective. If implemented effectively, an OHSMS will reduce workplace accidents. It will also help organizations avoid costly prosecutions, reduce workers compensation insurance costs, and create a positive safety culture in the organization.

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OHS prosecutions: When the regulator mischaracterizes a party’s role

October 30, 2016 - by: Carla Oliver 0 COMMENTS

by Carla Oliver

When a person applies for a job, the job generally comes with a title that an employer believes to be descriptive of the role and reflective of the duties and responsibilities of the position. In many cases, an employer’s assignment of a job title to a particular role is done without a great deal of detailed thought.

It is important to remember, however, that occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in each Canadian jurisdiction sets out the obligations of various individual parties regarding health and safety in the workplace. While the specifics of the legislation vary somewhat between jurisdictions, generally speaking, “supervisors,” “employers,” “constructors,” and other groups each have defined obligations under health and safety legislation that are triggered by virtue of their particular role in relation to the workplace.

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Mandatory employee medical examinations—employer gets it right

September 11, 2016 - by: Chuck Harrison 0 COMMENTS

by Chuck Harrison

A recent labor arbitration decision in Canada provides a guide for employers to “get it right” when balancing occupational safety and health obligations against employee privacy rights. read more…

Reconsidering random drug and alcohol testing in Canada

July 10, 2016 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

Random workplace drug and alcohol testing is generally prohibited by Canadian employers in Canada. However, there are limited circumstances in which it may be permitted. A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Suncor Energy Inc. v. Unifor Local 707A, provides some further guidance for employers operating in Canada. And provides them with a glimmer of hope. read more…

Overcoming the hurdles in managing workers’ compensation claims

June 12, 2016 - by: David Marchione 0 COMMENTS

by David Marchione, OHS Consultant/Paralegal

Many employers struggle to efficiently manage workers’ compensation claims. Most provincial experience rating programs established by workers’ compensation boards are based on two things: claim costs and claim duration. Thus, a failure by an employer to efficiently manage a claim can result in increased costs and increased duration of the claim, thus leading to a negative impact on the employer’s experience rating. The situation is further complicated by the fact that managing a worker’s return to work often becomes more difficult as time passes. read more…

Healthcare workers’ longer hours don’t necessarily increase health, safety risks

May 15, 2016 - by: Rosalind Cooper 0 COMMENTS

by Rosalind H. Cooper

Most employers know that there are restrictions under employment standards legislation regarding maximum hours of work for their employees. In certain circumstances, it is possible to exceed these daily or weekly maximums. However, care must be exercised when doing so in order to avoid a breach of the employer’s duties under occupational health and safety legislation. This issue was explored in the recent Ontario decision of Durham (Regional Municipality) v. Canadian Union of Public Employees. read more…

Workplace health through a new lens: steps to promote psychological well-being

February 14, 2016 - by: Cathy Chandler 0 COMMENTS

by Cathy Chandler

The workplace can play an essential role in helping individuals maintain positive mental health. However, it also can be a stressful environment that may contribute to mental health issues and illness. In a 2009 study three out of 10 Canadian employees reported that their work environments were not psychologically safe or healthy. Mental health is an important occupational health and safety issue, but many organizations have no system or process in place to address workplace psychological risks and stressors.

Employers’ legal obligations

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Project manager sentenced to 3.5-year jail term in Metron swing stage collapse

January 31, 2016 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Norm Keith, Christina Hall, and Shane Todd

“… [A] significant term of imprisonment is necessary to reflect the terrible consequences of the offences and to make it unequivocally clear that persons in positions of authority in potentially dangerous workplaces have a serious obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that those who arrive for work in the morning will make it safely back to their homes and families …” – R. v Vadim Kazenelson, 2016 ONSC 25 (CanLII), para. 45

These scathing words were written by Justice MacDonnell in the January 11, 2016, sentencing decision in R. v Vadim Kazenelson. In this decision, Kazenelson, a construction project manager, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for five convictions of criminal negligence relating to the collapse of a swing stage that led to the death of four construction workers in Ontario. Kazenelson had earlier been found guilty of committing these offenses following a trial. read more…

Managing the risks posed by distracted driving

December 20, 2015 - by: Carla Oliver 0 COMMENTS

by Carla Oliver

We’ve all seen it. Maybe when looking around while stuck in stop-and-go traffic on a highway. Maybe when noticing that a car in front of us doesn’t move when the traffic light turns green. It’s the distracted driver—texting away on his or her handheld device instead of paying attention to the traffic and road conditions.

Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous hazards on our roads today. In most provinces in Canada, fatalities caused by distracted driving have now exceeded the fatalities caused by both impaired driving and speeding. The Canadian Automobile Association has published statistics noting that a driver texting on a cell phone is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident or near accident than a nondistracted driver. read more…

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