Employers Beware of BC’s Safety Laws
Many employers do not take accident investigation seriously enough, even when critical injuries occur. Well, that may be changing in Canada. In British Columbia (BC), Bill 9, has been introduced which drastically amended the Workers Compensation Act with respect to accident investigation procedures.
Bill 9 was created after a WORKSAFEBC Special Advisor Gord Macatee reviewed two sawmill explosions that killed four workers.
The new BC accident investigation procedure now includes:
- A two part incident investigation requirement wherein employers must complete a Preliminary Investigation within 48 hours of the safety incident.
- An employer must undertake necessary corrective action “without undue delay” to prevent a similar incident from occurring while a full investigation is being conducted. WorkSafe BC will continue to require a full investigation submitted within 30 days of the safety incident.
According to Amanda Silklier of the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Magazine (COS) states the following about Bill 9: “The new legislation is very prescriptive on what exactly the preliminary report must entail, said Harwood. Some examples include witnesses to the incident, the sequence of events that preceded the incident and circumstances of the incident that preclude the employer from addressing a particular element.”
Other significant changes include the way government inspectors will investigate the accident; there will now be three separate investigation teams:
- Team 1 Safety Officers who conduct initial investigation
- Team 2 to determine root accident causes
- Team 3 the Prosecution team
The above is a very comprehensive approach to ensure nothing is missed. Also, the Prosecution team will need to follow due process and obtain search warrants to gather and seize evidence.
As you can see Bill 9 significantly changes the accident investigation landscape in BC, which may spread to the rest of Canada. Employers in all jurisdictions should now take notice and seriously committee to ensuing its internal accident investigation process is top notch before the regulatory bodies change the process for you.
- Pick two different provinces and research the critical injury/ accident investigation process under its Occupational Health and Safety Act. Compare them to BC’s new accident investigation process. How do they differ? How are they the same?
- Conduct some research on the indirect costs of workplace accidents? Use your findings to develop an accident investigation policy to meet your local provincial H&S legislation.