Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Occupational Health and Safety not just for workers

Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act has some pretty rigourous obligations on employers. Generally, we regard the Act as being designed to protect workers from occupational injuries or illnesses. The employer is required to take such steps as may be necessary to provide a safe environment to work in, and the failure to do so can result in significant fines.

What about workplaces that are open to the public, though? Does the Occupational Health and Safety Act create obligations on an employer related to safety of customers and other members of the public?

The Divisional Court recently answered this question in the affirmative. In Blue Mountain Resorts Limited v. Ontario (Ministry of Labour and Ontario Labour Relations Board), the Court heard a judicial review application relating to the drowning of a guest in an unsupervised swimming pool in 2007. The question is whether or not this death triggered the employer's obligations to report the incident to a Ministry Inspector, and the Court held that it did. Even though no workers were present at the time of the incident, and the incident did not involve a worker, the language in the Act refers to the death or critical injury of any "person" in a workplace, not just workers. The whole Blue Mountain resort, it seems, is a workplace.

This reporting obligation, accordingly, is going to be triggered anytime there is any death or critical injury whatsoever in any workplace - i.e. in just about any place where commercial services are offered.


This blog is not intended to, and does not, provide legal advice to any person in respect of any particular legal issue, and does not create a solicitor-client relationship with any readers, but rather provides general legal information. If you have a legal issue or possible legal issue, contact a lawyer.

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