Does the Canada Labour Code apply to my workplace?

Posted Jul 18th, 2018 in Tips & News

WSG has been asked to differentiate between provincial and federal occupational health and safety legislation. While many of the employers and workers obligations are similar, the differences can be found in the summary below.

Part II of the Canada Labour Code

Part II of the Canada Labour Coderelates to occupational health and safety and reflects the goal of preventing workplace-related injuries, including occupational diseases, and workplace accidents in federaljurisdiction.

Here is an overview of the major responsibilities for occupational health and safety for both employers and employees subject to the Canada Labour Code.

Does the Canada Labour Code apply to my workplace?

Occupational health and safety in the federal jurisdiction has been consolidated under Part II of the Canada Labour Code. The Code applies to the following interprovincial and international industries:

  • railways;
  • highway transport;
  • telephone and telegraph systems;
  • pipelines;
  • canals;
  • ferries, tunnels and bridges;
  • shipping and shipping services;
  • radio and television broadcasting and cable systems;
  • airports; 
  • banks;
  • grain elevators licensed by the Canadian Grain Commission, and certain feed mills and feed warehouses, flour mills, and grain seed cleaning plants;
  • the federal public service and persons employed by the public service and about 40 Crown corporations and agencies;
  • employment in the operation of ships, trains and aircraft; and
  • the exploration and development of petroleum on lands subject to federal jurisdiction.

Note: Part II of the Canada Labour Coded does not apply to certain undertakings regulated by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

What are the employees' rights under the Code?

The Canada Labour Code provides an employee with three rights:

1.    The right to know;

2.    The right to participate;

3.    The right to refuse dangerous work.

Are health and safety committees or representatives required for all workplaces?

Yes. In workplaces where there are 19 employees or less, or in workplaces exempt from the committee requirement, there must be a health and safety representative.

Workplace health and safety committees must be established in workplaces where there are 20 or more employees. At least half of the committee members must be employees who do not have managerial functions.

Can workplaces be exempt from these requirements?

The only specific exemption to the workplace committee requirement applies to employees working on a ship or aircraft.

The Minister of Labour may also exempt other organizations from the requirement to establish a workplace health and safety committee where it is felt that the nature of the work performed is relatively free from risks to health and safety. However, where such exemptions are granted, there must be a health and safety representative.

What are the powers of a Health & Safety officer?

In the context of the Canada Labour Code, a "health and safety officer" is a person appointed by the Minister of Labour. The health and safety officer may, as part of his or her duties:

  • enter any workplace at any reasonable time;
  • conduct, or have conducted, tests, examinations, inquiries, investigations or inspections;
  •  take or remove for analysis, samples of any material or substance;
  •  be accompanied or assisted by any person and bring any equipment the officer deems necessary;
  •  take or remove for testing, material or equipment;
  • take photographs and make sketches of the work place; and
  • meet with any person in private, or when requested by the person, in the presence of legal counsel or union representation.

The Health and Safety officer also has the power to direct...

  • the employer or any other person to ensure a certain area or thing is not disturbed pending the officer's investigation;
  • the employer, to produce documents and information relating to the health and safety of the employees or the workplace and to allow the officer to make copies of those documents;
  • the employer or an employee, to make or provide statements respecting working conditions, material, and equipment affecting the health and safety of employees in the work place; and
  • the employer or an employee, to accompany the officer while the officer is in the work place.

A health and safety officer may issue directions whether or not the officer is in the workplace. As a final step, a health and safety officer will recommend prosecution for non-compliance with his or her direction.

What types of penalties can be imposed for contravening the Code?

The Canada Labour Code and its regulations can be enforced through fines according to the seriousness of the offence.

Offences and maximum penalties include:

  • Wilfully commits act likely to cause death or serious injury (2 years, $1,000,000 or both);
  • Offence results in death or serious injury (2 years, $1,000,000 or both); and
  • Any person who contravenes any provision (On indictment - 2 years, $1,000,000 or both; on summary conviction - $100,000)

The importance of proving “Due Diligence”

On a prosecution of a person for a contravention of any provision, except paragraph 125.(1)(c) and (z.10) and (z.11) it is a defence for the person to prove that the person exercised due care and diligence to avoid the contravention.

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