Amendments to Workers Compensation Act Receive Royal Assent

On October 8, 2015, the government of British Columbia introduced the Workers Compensation Amendment Act (Bill 35). Bill 35 is the government’s response to two sawmill accidents that occurred in 2012, one in Prince George and the other in Burns Lake, that killed four men and injured dozens of other workers. In his 2014 WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan, Special Administrator Gord Macatee made wide ranging recommendations following his review of the incidents, all of which have been accepted by government and WorkSafeBC. Some of these recommendations have been enacted by way of the amendments in Bill 35, including the following:

  • Employers are now required to immediately report to WorkSafeBC all workplace fires or explosions that have the potential to cause serious injury to a worker;
  • Employers are now required to disclose investigation reports to the workplace health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative or post them at the work site;
  • There must be meaningful participation by workers and employer representatives in employer accident investigations; the amendments mandate a specific role for workplace health and safety committees to provide advice to the employer on proposed equipment or machinery changes that may affect worker health or safety;  and
  • WorkSafeBC will be involved in proactively assisting workplace health and safety committees in resolving disagreements regarding health and safety matters.

Bill 35 received royal assent on November 17, 2015. The amendments will come into force on January 1, 2016.

Bill 35 can be viewed here.

Questions relating to the content of this article may be directed to Andrew Wood.