Canadian Occupational Safety

September/October 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 7 of 51

U P F R O N T F I N E S A N D P E N A L T I E S 8 BRITISH COLUMBIA PROPOSES CHANGES TO LABOUR LAWS BRITISH COLUMBIA has proposed changes to provincial labour laws to provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC's ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low. "For too many years, we have heard from injured workers in B.C. that the system lacks fairness and doesn't work for them or support them through their injuries," says Harry Bains, minister of labour. "Today's changes are an important step in modernizing the Workers Compensation Act, ensuring workers and their families get the support they need, while also increasing everyone's confidence in the system." The proposed changes focus on improving supports for injured workers, while also advancing worker safety. The changes include: • raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers' compensation benefits are based • authorizing WorkSafeBC to provide preventive medical treatment before a claim is accepted • giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants that are appropriate for investigating workplace safety infractions • giving people a voice in serious workplace prosecutions and trials by using victim impact statements • increasing the maximum insurable earnings to $100,000 from $87,100 so that at least 90 per cent of B.C.'s workers will have 100 per cent of their earnings covered if they are unable to work due to a workplace injury • allowing WorkSafeBC to determine a worker's retirement date; therefore, the date loss-of- earnings benefits would end when that worker is nearing age 65, rather than at the time of injury to better determine whether someone may work past the age of 65 and continue receiving benefits • eliminating the existing test for determining when the loss of earnings or the loss of function method should be used in calculating benefits and ensuring workers will always receive the disability payment that is the higher of the two • giving WorkSafeBC the powers of search and seizure for workplace investigations (through judge-granted warrants) through the Workers Compensation Act, rather than the Offence Act • allowing the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal to hear cases relating to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Human Rights Code The purpose of a WorkSafeBC investigation is to determine the cause of a serious incident and any contributing factors, so that similar incidents can be prevented from happening in the future, according to the government. This legislation will fast-track the effective date of presumptions if established by WorkSafeBC's board of directors for occupational diseases caused by viral pathogens. The presumption would simplify the process for workers who make a workers' compensation claim if they contract viruses on the job. This would ensure that people who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 at work are able to access benefits more quickly, according to the government. Each year, there are more than 100,000 new claims due to workplace injury or fatality. Last year in B.C., there were 140 workplace fatalities. Of these, 84 were due to occupational disease, 40 were due to traumatic injury and 16 were the result of a motor vehicle incident. In the last five years, WorkSafeBC has conducted an average of 131 investigations per year. In 2019, WorkSafeBC conducted 141 investigations. Dollar Tree Stores Canada fined $225,734 for multiple violations Dollar Tree Stores Canada, Inc. was fined $225,734.42 following an inspection of its retail location in Maple Ridge, B.C. An inspection uncovered a number of safety deficiencies. These include: boxes of merchandise that were stacked in an unstable manner and were also adjacent to designated walkways and restricted access to the main electrical circuit panel; unsecured helium gas canisters with boxes that had been piled on top of them; and material and equipment that the firm had failed to securely stack and store in a secure manner, which WorkSafeBC deems a high-risk violation. "For too many years, we have heard from injured workers in B.C. that the system lacks fairness and doesn't work for them or support them through their injuries." Harry Bains, B.C. minister of labour Calgary man charged over employment scam The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has charged a man from Calgary for allegedly setting up an employment scam to try to steal tax return claims worth more than $760,000. The charges allege that, from March 2018, Chun Zhu started gathering personal information from individuals who applied on fake job postings that he set up. CRA alleges that Zhu used the information gathered from these applications to electronically prepare, print out and file as many as 317 personal tax returns. The returns claimed unwarranted tax refunds that he attempted to have deposited into bank accounts that he controlled. Tennis club fined following death of worker The Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club has been fined $37,453.70 following the death of one of its long-time maintenance workers. The fatal incident occurred on April 23, 2019. The worker was in the raised basket of a portable lift and was in the process of removing lights from a domed ceiling. Workers on the ground of the sports facility were operating outriggers and jacks, and as they were operating this equipment, the portable lift became unstable and fell over. The worker, who was in the basket at the time, fell around 26 feet and sustained fatal injuries.

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