In the past, OH&S was previously limited to safety issues and workplace accidents; however, this is an expanding area of law which includes violence in the workplace, bullying and harassment, and prohibited action. Each of these areas is a growing source of grievances against employers and of increasing concern to employers.
Recent policy changes have increased the severity of penalties for safety violations of employers. The risk of fines and personal prosecution are also increasing significantly. Liability for safety violations can be directed to a worker on the ground, a manager or a member of a board of directors. For this reason, pre-emptive advice is just as important as post-issue legal advice.
We regularly provide clients with preemptive advice on policies, procedures and training to assist employers in limiting their exposure to occupational health and safety issues. We also provide day-to-day advice on safety issues where and as needed. This is critical in an environment where each workplace is unique and there may be no obvious answers.
We regularly work with our clients on compliance issues, helping them to adapt to ever-changing regulatory provisions. We intimately understand the provincial and federal regulations guiding employment and labour law in B.C. We also have considerable experience in working with key players in this area of law, such as WorkSafeBC and Employment and Social Development Canada.
Should an incident occur, our goal is to assist the client in managing its internal investigation and helping to manage the investigation by WorkSafeBC. We can also challenge health and safety orders through the regulatory scheme, in the Courts, and all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.
Given our extensive experience in the health and safety area, we understand the need for technical experts, as well as health and safety professionals, in dealing with certain safety issues. We often work in conjunction with them and can assist clients with the securement of such experts if and when needed.
Our clients have spanned the following areas:
- Oil & Gas
- Film and Television
- Transportation, including airlines, rail, and trucking
We’re widely recognized as top Occupational Health lawyers in Western Canada and have proposed changes to legislation in this area. We are also frequent speakers and authors on OH&S legislation, case law and trends.
Whether it is interpreting or creating policies, mitigating hazards, or providing support in cases of serious injury or death, we problem solve and can guide our clients through any Occupational Health & Safety situation.
Advising Clients on Significant Accidents, including Fatalities
We have particular expertise in dealing with serious workplace incidents, including workplace fatalities. When a fatality occurs in the workplace, distraught employees and managers may not think clearly. Investigations tend to be complicated, especially in the early stages, and various responders (including police, the coroner, and WorkSafeBC) may have overlapping jurisdiction. It is essential that legal advice be sought immediately as decisions (and strategies) must be determined quickly and will result in fundamentally different responses to these responders, depending on the circumstances.
Employers have many reasons to want a speedy and just address of serious accidents and fatalities on site, including:
- To effectively manage both the internal investigation as well as the WorkSafeBC investigation;
- To ensure that any faulty equipment or processes are dealt with to avoid any future injuries;
- To calm staff to ensure their continued safety and job security through the continuation of business;
- To minimize expense by avoiding costly delays in concluding investigations and resolution processes;
- To minimize negative publicity; and
- To minimize risk and avoid administrative penalties or potential prosecution.
We have considerable experience in providing advice to employers after a fatality or significant accident has taken place. We provide quick, calm and direct advice regarding actions that should or should not be taken in an effort to accomplish all of the above.