COCA’s Perspective on Legislative Changes (in effect from May 14, 2015)

Stop Work Orders

The changes are aimed at irresponsive employers who have not acted to eliminate high risk situations.   The more vigorous actions permitted by this legislation are reasonable.

Incident Investigation

There are two major changes in the legislation.

First, the employer is required to undertake a preliminary investigation within 48 hours. This is reasonable in most circumstances because the information and evidence gathering is best done as quickly as possible after the incident.

This information gathering would include interviews with witnesses and persons of interest; photographs of the worksite; data from suppliers, etc. All of these actions are best done as soon as possible.

COCA’s recommendation is that the employer label the report as PRELIMINARY in bold face type on each page so that it is clear that the report and findings may be subject to change as new information is obtained.

WorkSafeBC may request a copy of the preliminary report. Again, the report must be clearly labeled as PRELIMINARY on each page.

The second new requirement is that the employer must conduct a full investigation and must submit the final report within 30 days to WorkSafeBC unless there are circumstances beyond the control of the employer which prevent this submission.

This is reasonable, provided that WorkSafeBC recognizes the need for extensions as justified by circumstances beyond the control of the employer.

COCA is available to assist in cases where this discretion is not being fairly exercised by WorkSafeBC.

Injunctions and Due Diligence

There are two significant changes here.

First, the legislation gives WorkSafeBC additional powers to deal with employers who refuse to comply or cooperate with appropriate enforcement methods.

The change will enable the Court to grant an injunction restraining a person from carrying on in an industry or industrial undertaking. The restraining order can be indefinite or until further order from the court

This change is aimed at employers who demonstrate a lack of concern for worker safety — for example, deliberately sending workers in without protective equipment to work with loose asbestos — and COCA supports the new change.

The second change is to Due Diligence.

The amendment clearly places the onus on the employer to demonstrate due diligence. This has been a long-term practice of WorkSafeBC that is now codified in law.

COCA supports the principle of demonstrated due diligence.