Health and safety in the workplace is an area of growing importance for all businesses and organizations that operate in Canada and internationally. The legal risk and public scrutiny of workplace incidents in Canada and around the world has resulted in strict enforcement of Canadian Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws across Canada. Employers are the primary target of the enforcement of OHS laws. OHS legislation exists in every Canadian province and federally under the Canada Labour Code. OHS laws are enforced by OHS inspectors issuing Orders, Directions, and Quasi-criminal Charges. Legislatively, there are many critical OHS policy and procedure requirements that employers must have in place to establish an effective OHS Management System and the legal defence of Due Diligence.
The Westray Mine Disaster Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code have resulted in a new crime of Occupational Health and Safety Criminal Negligence, with extremely high fines, for Corporations, and up to life imprisonment for individuals. We advise and represent as counsel organizations, directors, officers and managers in these complex, specialized prosecutions and judicial proceedings.
Workers' Compensation legislation exists nationally. This "no fault" insurance system compensates workers who have been injured in the workplace, regardless of the cause of the workplace injury. The replacement of lost earnings under Canadian Workers’ Compensation systems also provides a legal bar against civil law suits against employers for allegations of wrong doing that caused the accident. Numerous, complex issues arise in the administration of worker's compensation claims, including rate group classifications, entitlement issues and appeals, and transfer of cost applications to worker compensation boards. Employers often can reduce the costs of Workers’ Compensation claims through accident prevention and effective claims management.
Fasken Martineau has some of the best lawyers and OHS consultants available to assist with EHS issues. We have written and contributed to many of the leading textbooks on the subject and have been involved in several of the leading OHS cases at all levels of court and tribunals, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada. We are available to assist employers in all OHS legal matters, workplace accident investigations, defence of OHS enforcement proceedings, and challenging Workers’ Compensation claims and appeals.
- Advising employers on new and existing OHS laws and regulations
- Representing employers and senior management when there is a workplace accident
- Appealing OHS Regulators Directions and Orders
- Defending OHS regulatory and Criminal charges in court
- Counsel at all levels of Workers Compensation appeals and related litigation