Legislative roundup: Changes in OHS laws and regulations from West to East

New federal OHS standards for workers on boats • Maximum safety fines could rise to $1 million as Ottawa targets railways • WorkSafeBC amends policy on workplace injury, illness • New hotline to report unsafe working conditions in Ontario • Ontario reviewing OELs for a number of substances • Yukon mulls distracted driver legislation


New OHS standards for workers on boats

The federal government has created new health and safety standards under the Canada Labour Code for employees who work on board vessels, taking into consideration the realities of working on a ship and to promote consistency with existing health and safety provisions under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. The new Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations replace the previous Marine Occupational Safety and Health Regulations. The new regulation is available at www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2010/2010-06-23/html/sor-dors120-eng.html.

Maximum safety fines could rise to $1 million as Ottawa targets railways

The federal government has introduced the Safer Railways Act. This legislation would amend the Railway Safety Act, which contains safety rules for federally regulated railways. Some notable aspects of draft legislation include: the introduction of administrative penalties in addition to court-ordered penalties; maximum fines will increase from $200,000 to $1 million for corporations and from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals; the potential for regulations requiring railway companies to have an exective accoutable for safety; and whistleblower protection.


WorkSafeBC amends policy on workplace injury, illness

WorkSafeBC has amended its policy regarding when an injury or illness has been caused in the course of work. The new policy is in effect as of July 1, 2010. One notable aspect is a clarification that, "personal injury arising in the course of employment may result from a specific incident or a series of incidents occurring over a period of time… However, the evidence must warrant a conclusion that there was something in the employment that had causative significance in producing the injury.” The amended policy is available on WorkSafeBC's website.


New hotline to report unsafe working conditions

The Government of Ontario is launching an eight-week campaign with its health and safety partners to urge workers and employers to put safety first on construction sites across the province. The province kicked off the campaign at a construction site in Toronto on July 28, emphasizing the need for everyone on the job to train properly, be aware of dangers and keep everyone safe. The tour will be making a number of stops across the province including Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Kingston and Peterborough. A new workplace safety toll-free phone number is also now available. The public and workers can call (877) 202-0008 to report labour practices or work conditions that appear unsafe. This campaign follows a recent 90-day safety enforcement blitz of more than 2,800 Ontario construction sites. During the blitz inspectors found many violations related to missing or inappropriate use of guardrails, scaffolding and fall protection systems and supervisor and worker training.

Province reviewing OELs for a number of substances

Ontario has announced plans to update occupational exposure limits (OELs) for a number of hazardous chemical substances such as hydrogen sulfide and thallium. OELs restrict workers’ exposure to hazardous biological and chemical substances on the job such as those used in manufacturing and repair operations. Ontario revises the OELs on a regular basis. The Ministry of Labour has opened a 60-day consultation on proposed changes for 2010. The consultation period allows stakeholders to comment on proposed new and revised limits for the listed hazardous substances. The submission deadline is Sept. 17, 2010.


Territory mulls distracted driver legislation

Yukon is considering creating distracted driver legislation and has created a survey about the topic. Similar legislation across Canada prohibits the use of cellphones and similar devices while driving. Employers with safe driving policies, or those considering creating them, can get a copy of the survey  online at www.hpw.gov.yk.ca/pdf/mva_survey_e.pdf.

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