Ontario resort challenges order to report guest death as workplace accident

Labour board and court ruled drowning of guest in pool should be reported under OHSA, even though no employees were involved

An Ontario resort that was ordered to report a guest’s death as a workplace accident has been granted the right to appeal the decision.

In October, the Ontario Court of Appeal granted Blue Mountain Resorts the right to appeal an earlier decision on reporting fatal and critical injuries occurring at a workplace to the province’s Ministry of Labour.

The appeal involves an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision earlier this year, which determined that the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requirement to report fatal and critical injuries occurring at a workplace applied to all injuries, not just those involving workers. The decision was later upheld by the Ontario Divisional Court.

The decision stemmed from a December 2007 incident where a guest at Blue Mountain Resorts near Collingwood, Ont., drowned in an indoor swimming pool. There were no workers present. Blue Mountain didn’t report the incident to the ministry because a worker wasn’t involved. However, three months later, a ministry inspector learned of the accident and ordered Blue Mountain to comply with the section of the OHSA requiring reporting when a “person is killed or critically injured from any cause at a workplace.”

In its motion to appeal, Blue Mountain Resorts argued that the board’s broad interpretation of the reporting provision would lead to “an absurd result.”

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