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WSIB and OHS for Employers in Ontario – April 2010

WSIB and OHS for Employers in Ontario – April 2010

OHS Updates

1. MOL Guidelines for Bill 168 have now been published. This rather lengthy document (50 pages) assists employers in complying with their obligations under Bill 168 by June 15, 2010.

a) Employers with multiple locations must specifically consider the unique features of each individual location (geographic location, different customer / client base, different building features such as entrance and exits, circumstances specific to each location, remoteness) when conducting a violence assessment. You can use one assessment established by corporate head office to address the common risks, but a portion of the assessment must consider risks unique to each individual location.

b) Employers are legally required to conduct an assessment for workplace violence but not harassment or domestic violence. However employers are still legally obligated to address risks in both of these areas in terms of the workplace program.

c) Employers should understand and acknowledge in their policy and assessments that inappropriate behaviour occurs on a continuum. Workplace harassment MAY escalate over time into threats or acts of physical violence and targeted victims of harassment MAY react violently.

d) The guidelines give employers the option to choose if they want one or two policies (i.e. two separate policies or both violence and harassment combined into one policy). Either way, they must be posted in a conspicuous place if 6 or more workers are regularly employed.

e) Conditions triggering a re-assessment < 1 year are listed on page 10 (eg. workplace moves to a different location, significant change in type of work, new information on the risks of workplace violence).

f) The workplace program, policy and assessment can be adopted from another precedent but must be tailored to fit your individual workplace. This should be a separate category on the assessment to show that you have considered the unique features of each individual location.

g) Even if no risks are found for workplace violence, the employer still needs a workplace violence program which provides measures and procedures for 1) calling immediate assistance 2) reporting incidents or complaints and 3) investigating and addressing incidents and complaints if they do occur.

h) Disclosing Information about a person with a history of violence: Employers are reminded that this is not a broad duty, but very limited. It only applies when a worker can be expected to encounter the violent person in the course of his or her work AND the risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the worker to physical violence. The guideline gives an example of a waitress or construction worker who should be told if there is a person (presumably member of the public or customer) with a history of hitting workers at the workplace and what the triggers are for that person’s violent behaviour.

i) Domestic Violence: If the employer becomes aware or ought to be aware that there is a risk of domestic violence entering the workplace they are required to take protective measures which might include developing an individual safety plan for the targeted worker. Although the targeted worker should be consulted when creating the safety plan, employers should remember that occasionally, the targeted worker will not fully acknowledge or recognize the potential risks and may even create barriers or resistance to an individual safety plan. Even if the targeted worker does not want any involvement by the employer, this DOES NOT diminish or in any way reduce the employers’ legal obligation. Each case must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

j) Alleged or confirmed incidents of harassment do not trigger the “work refusal” provisions or obligations by the employer to provide written notice to the MOL.

Link: MOL Workplace Violence & Harassment Understanding the Law

2. NAOSH Week: North American Occupational Safety and Health Week takes place May 2-8. This is a good opportunity for employers to post information and get involved helping to keep the Internal Responsibility System visible in the workplace. Become a NAOSH week supporter or champion at Link: http://www.naosh.ca/english/champions.html

Link: NAOSH Week Checklist for Employer

WSIB Updates

The WSIB has posted the Enhanced Appeal System Practices and Procedures Document: For those employers who actively participate in their own WSIB Appeals, the WSIB is inviting your input on recommended changes by April 29, 2010. The proposed changes include a requirement for ARO’s to issue decisions within 45 days. If they anticipate that they will not be able to meet that deadline, then they will be required to provide a date by which the decision can be expected. I cannot help but to wonder if there are plans to hire more ARO’s? It’s like squeezing out more quality decisions out of the impossibly overburdened Case Managers – it can’t be done.

Link: WSIB Appeal System Consultation

Complimentary Breakfast Seminar and the Annual Todd Lecture in London:

1. Complimentary Breakfast Seminar: Wednesday April 28, 2010 (8am-10am) Topic of Seminar: Bill 168 Employer Obligations. Get help with developing your assessment tool and program. Advanced Registration is required.
Link: More Information

2. The “Annual Todd Lecture”: Thursday May 20, 2010 (6-9pm), Chaucers in London (Presented by the South Western Ontario Labour Lawyers Association). Justice Todd Archibald will be the keynote speaker and the Honourable Senior Regional Justice Edward Ducharme will introduce Justice Archibald. The excellent text “Regulatory and Corporate Liability: From Due Diligence to Risk Management” will be on sale and is highly recommended for owners, the C-suite and OHS/WSIB management teams in virtually every organization.

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