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New tools aim to strengthen WorkSafeBC - Subscriber Access Only

By BCShippingNews 13 December 2016

Employers in British Columbia should be aware of the new tools now available to WorkSafeBC to enforce compliance with workplace safety obligations. Legislation passed in the summer of 2014 has resulted in a greater range of enforcement tools available to WorkSafeBC to deal with employers who do not comply with their health and safety obligations under the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation. In addition to the power to impose OHS orders and administrative penalties, WorkSafeBC has strengthened authority to shut down worksites and businesses, and to stop directors and officers from continuing business operations in a new organization.

Background

The impetus for these extensive changes was the January 20, 2012, explosion at the Babine Sawmills in Burns Lake. The mill burst into flames, killing two workers. WorkSafeBC dispatched officials to commence an investigation, but three months later and before their inspection was complete, another explosion killed two more workers at the Lakeland Mill in Prince George. A second investigation ensued. Both investigations culminated in a report from WorkSafeBC to Crown Counsel to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to commence a prosecution in the courts. The vast majority of workplace accidents and inspections are prosecuted through an administrative penalty system that bypasses the courts and is dealt with by a system of WorkSafeBC tribunals. But the severity and profile of the Babine and Lakeland mill explosions led WorkSafeBC to take the more unusual route of seeking a prosecution in the courts.