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C A N A D A’ S O C C U PAT I O N A L H E A LT H & S A F E T Y M A G A Z I N E JU NE 2014



W H E E L Trucking safety across the border


Criminal charges against sawmill bite the dust


Europe tightens safety rules in hairdressing salons


Injured migrant workers denied healthcare coverage


Heart disease in firefighters deemed work-related

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Out of Reach

J U N E 2014 Vo l u m e 3 0, Nu m b er 4

The failure to press criminal charges against a sawmill in British Columbia for a deadly explosion in 2012 has raised questions about WorkSafeBC’s investigation process. BY JEFF COTTRILL


On the Clock

Changes to the hours-of-service rules to enhance transportation safety in the United States are having repercussions on Canadian truck drivers who ply south of the border. BY CARMELLE WOLFSON




The Price of Beauty

Is a review of workplace safety in Canada’s hairdressing industry due, with Europe beefing up its oh&s regulations to protect these workers better? BY KATRINA REILLY




Testing Air




Letter or Spirit of the Law

An Ontario court’s decision that two injured migrant workers were not eligible for healthcare coverage has exposed gaps in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.


Many factors need to be considered when deciding to buy or rent a gas detector. The equation becomes more complex with the range of instrumentation devices available.






Heart of the Matter

A proposed amendment to British Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act would see heart disease among firefighters presumed occupation-related.









Caught in the Middle

New measures to improve rail safety; worker killed in British Columbia mine; Alberta judge says no to random testing; employees fined in Saskatchewan; stabbing spree in Ontario office; work injuries in Nova Scotia hit new low; and more.



Safeguarding Green Hands

Young workers have a higher risk of work injury than older workers. Employers should take precautionary measures to protect these youths from harm. IN C ON V ER S ATION N E W 46

Bill C-45: Ten Years Later

A look at how the Westray Bill has changed Canada’s occupational health and safety landscape a decade after it was passed. TIM E OUT



Drop-in peep show; intrepid Mounties; dress the part; too hot to handle; drink-andshoot; April Fool’s Day gets real; and more.


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Guard himself as he may, every moment’s an ambush.

Light intensifies emotions; one drink too many; Nova Scotia targets fishing safety; workplace bias has spillover effect; and more.


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Caught in the Middle T

he Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has been making news of late, but not in a way that puts the program or the authorities running it in a flattering light. The imposition of an immediate moratorium on the foodservices sector’s access to the TFWP, announced by federal Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney in late April, has prompted Quebec’s immigration minister to call on Ottawa to lift the ban on hiring temporary foreign workers in the province’s restaurants. Groups representing migrant workers, which include Migrant Workers’ Rights, Justicia for Migrant Workers and Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, have decried the move, which has been deemed by some quarters as a knee-jerk reaction to placate unions and caving in to public pressure. The issue has also served as a fertile ground for opposition parties to criticize the Conservative government’s policies. In a commentary published in the Toronto Star on May 5, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau charged that the Conservative government’s mismanagement of the TFWP has resulted in an influx of vulnerable workers into the country and put workplace safety on shaky grounds. Programs like the TFWP deal with a sensitive issue and could entail political — and human — costs if not managed properly. On one hand, there is a real economic necessity to bring in foreign workers to fill jobs that are not being taken up by Canadians. On the other hand, the government needs to ensure that these programs do not discourage employers from hiring Canadians, or worse, take jobs away from them. And there is also the moral responsibility to safeguard the occupational health and safety of vulnerable migrant workers, who are human beings like their Canadian counterparts. The imposition of a moratorium stemming from serious allegations of abuse of the TFWP can best be described as thumping one’s fist on the ground to kill an ant. It is a move that will hurt not only a specific sector of the economy — in this case, the food-services industry — but also law-abiding employers by making it much harder for them to hire workers during the busy upcoming summer months and, last but not least, the foreign workers themselves. In a letter addressed to Minister Kenney, Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president of government affairs with Restaurants Canada in Toronto, says the moratorium has “created a great deal of anxiety” among its members and their employees, including their temporary foreign workers, in regions with no success hiring Canadians or permanent residents. Reynolds voiced her concerns about restaurants having to shut down parts of their businesses, curtail operations and hours, put expansion plans on hold and, in some cases, cease operations — all of which would threaten the job security of Canadian employees in the sector. While the economy and food-business owners are affected by the moratorium, temporary foreign workers at the bottom of the food chain are the hardest hit. They are doubly victimized by errant employers who abuse the TFWP and by the moratorium imposed by the federal government, which puts migrant workers’ jobs on the line — especially those who are already employed in the restaurant sector and whose contracts are due to expire. Clearly, there are holes in the TFWP that require fixing. But it must be done in a way that duly punishes the abusers, not the victims. Jean Lian


Vol. 30, No. 4 JUNE 2014




DAVID IRETON, Safety Professional, Brampton, Ont. AL JOHNSON, Vice President, Prevention Services WorkSafeBC, Richmond, B.C. JANE LEMKE, Program Manager, OHN Certification Program, Mohawk College, Hamilton, Ont.

DON MITCHELL, Safety Consultant, Mississauga, Ont. MICHELE PARENT, National Manager, Risk Management and Health and Wellness,

Standard Life, Montreal, Que. TERRY RYAN, Workers’ Compensation and Safety Consultant, TRC Group Inc., Mississauga, Ont. DON SAYERS, Principal Consultant, Don Sayers & Associates, Hanwell, N.B. DAVID SHANE, National Director, Health and Safety, Canada Post Corporation, Ottawa, Ont. HENRY SKJERVEN, President, The Skjerven Cattle Company Ltd., Wynyard, Sask. PETER STRAHLENDORF, Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Health, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Ont. JONATHAN TYSON, Association of Canadian Ergonomists/Association canadienne d’ergonomie, North Bay, Ont.

OHS CANADA is the magazine for people who make decisions about health and safety in the workplace. It is designed to keep workers, managers and safety professionals informed on oh&s issues, up to date on new developments and in touch with current thinking in the oh&s community. WEBSITE: INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS contained in this publication have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable and to be representative of the best current opinion on the subject. No warranty, guarantee nor representation is made by Business Information Group as to the absolute correctness or sufficiency of any representation contained in this publication. OHS CANADA is published eight times per year by BIG Magazines LP, a division of Glacier BIG Holdings Ltd., a leading Canadian information company with interests in daily and community newspapers and business-to-business information services. The yearly issues include: January/February, March, April/May, June, July/ August, September, October/November, and December. Application to mail at ­Periodicals Postage Rates is pending at Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304. U.S. Postmaster, Office of Publication, send address corrections to: OHS Canada, 2424 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14304-0357. ADDRESS: OHS CANADA MAGAZINE, 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON M3B 2S9. TELEPHONE: Customer Service: 1-866-543-7888; Editorial: 416-510-6893; Sales: 416-510-5102; Fax: 416-510-5171. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Canada: $110.50/year; USA: $132.50/year; foreign: $137.50. (Prices include postage and shipping; applicable taxes are extra.) SINGLE COPIES: Canada: $6.00; USA: $8.00; foreign $10.00 Bulk subscription rates available on request. Indexed by Canadian Business Periodicals Inc. ISSN 0827-4576 OHS Canada (Print) • ISSN 1923-4279 OHS Canada (Online) Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. From time to time, we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via one of the following methods: Customer Service: (Tel) 416-510-5189; (Fax) 416-510-5167; (E-mail); (Mail) Privacy Officer, Business Information Group, 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON M3B 2S9 Canada. The contents of this magazine are protected by copyright and may be used for your personal, non-commercial purposes only. All other rights are reserved, and commercial use is prohibited. To make use of any of this material, you must first obtain the permission of the owner of the copyright. For further information, please contact the editor. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.



Im Sc No ma


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POSTAL INFORMATION: Publications mail agreement no. 40069240. Postmaster, please forward forms 29B and 67B to Business Information Group. 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON M3B 2S9 Canada. Date of issue: JUNE 2014


JUNE 2014

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$9,127,000 Amount invested by the federal government in the Smart Oceans BC program to boost marine safety. The project will add small-scale underwater observatories and highfrequency coastal radars to prevent accidents, predict natural hazards and improve marine operational situational awareness.

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3 1. Eye

on Asbestos: From March 17 to December 31, WorkSafeBC is conducting planned inspections of single-family demolition worksites to ensure that homeowners, contractors and consultants are informed and equipped to remove asbestos-containing materials, in compliance with oh&s regulations. Source: WorkSafeBC 2. Gang

of Four: The City of Medicine Hat, Alberta has approved plans to hire four new safety officials, bringing the city’s total number of safety advisors to nine, plus one director of health, safety and environment. Three of the four new positions will oversee safety concerns in the parks and recreation, transit and utilities departments respectively, while the fourth will serve as a director supervising staff in nine separate departments.

Source: Western Economic Diversification Canada


Total fine issued to Southern Sanitation Inc. and an employee on April 1 over the death of a worker, who was crushed between two vehicles at a sanitation site in Hamilton last year. Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour

Source: Canadian Occupational Health and Safety News

Lowering Barriers: The Ontario Human Rights Commission launched a new policy on April 14 to protect the rights of transgender people. The policy addresses issues around recognizing lived gender identity, changing identity on official documents, transitioning, dress codes and accessing facilities. It also provides tools and information that can be applied to situations trans people face at work or when accessing services. Source: Ontario Human Rights Commission 3.

4. Going South: New Brunswick’s injury rate dropped from three injuries per 100 full-time employees in 2012 to 2.84 in 2013, according to a WorkSafeNB report released on April 2. A 1.18 lost-time injury frequency rate per 100 full-time workers remains below the national average of 1.65. Source: WorkSafeNB

Partners in Health: The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has partnered with Annapolis Valley Health to maximize unused operating-room capacity to provide more timely surgical services to about 500 injured workers a year. The program, which began on April 22, helps injured workers get speedier access to the surgical care they need so that they can return to work. Source: Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia 5.

Tackling the Bug: The Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island temporarily shut down its website and online services on April 9 to put preventive measures in place, after numerous websites were exposed to the Heartbleed bug. Source: Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island


Amount recovered by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour from 2010 to 2013 in illegal fees under the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act. Foreign workers typically pay $4,000 to $10,000 each in unlawful recruitment fees for minimumwage jobs in Ontario. Source: Metcalf Foundation


360° 6

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Sweden’s second-largest city is mulling over the idea of introducing a six-hour workday to selected municipal workers. Those taking part in the trial run, proposed by the Gothenburg city council on April 8, will include public workers in the elderly care department. The government hopes that the 30-hour work week will result in staff taking fewer sick days and an overall improvement in their mental and physical health. Source: The Independent


Number of occupational fatalities in British Columbia in 2013. Day of Mourning ceremonies were held across the country on April 28 to honour the workers who had lost their lives in the workplace last year. Source: WorkSafeBC

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LACK OF TRAINING CITED FEDERAL — A rail accident that injured three workers in late 2012 was partly due to a lack of training, a report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) concludes. On Boxing Day of that year, a Canadian National freight train hit three trackmaintenance workers. The employers of A&B Rail Services Ltd. were clearing snow and ice from the track near a main switch in east Edmonton. The train crew had sounded the bell and horn upon seeing the maintenance workers ahead, but the workers did not respond, forcing the crew to apply the emergency brakes. The TSB report, published on April 24, reveals that the workers were not aware of changes to railway safetywatch procedures and were not sufficiently trained in safe work practices.

AMENDMENTS TO ACT PROPOSED FEDERAL — Health Canada is proposing amendments to the Hazardous Products Act as part of its ongoing process to implement the Globally Harmonized

System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The tabled legislative changes, announced on March 28, are part of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2014. The GHS deals with the classification of hazardous chemical substances and mixtures according to health, physical and environmental dangers and the use of labels and safety data sheets to communicate important hazard information. “We are looking at implementing that as part of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System [WHMIS],” says Jason Wood, director of policy with the workplace hazardous materials directorate of Health Canada. While WHMIS is a comprehensive hazard-communication system, he describes the GHS as “an international standard” that will standardize elements of hazard communication such as symbols, signal words and hazard statements appearing on labels or safety data sheets. While WHMIS identifies six main hazard classes, the GHS covers 26. Cathy Campbell, president of the Canadian Association of Chemical Distributors in Burlington, Ontario, says the GHS will likely enhance safety in the distributor profession with a wider range of haz-

ard categories and internationally consistent danger symbols. “Our member company employees are our first priority, and we don’t take risks with their safety,” she says. “The more information people have, the safer they will be.” Health Canada claims that the proposed changes will raise productivity and reduce health and safety costs in the country by almost $400 million. “There is a trade facilitation aspect to this as well,” Wood notes, adding that implementing the GHS in both Canada and in the United States will allow the use of a single North American label and safety data sheet for each hazardous product.

ABUSE RESULTS IN MORATORIUM FEDERAL — The federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, has imposed an immediate moratorium on Canada’s food-services sector’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), following allegations of abuse of the TFWP at McDonald’s restaurants in British Columbia. Kenney announced the moratorium on April 24, saying that Employment and

RAIL SAFETY MEASURES ANNOUNCED FEDERAL — Three months to the day after the Transportation

Safety Board of Canada (TSB) made rail safety recommendations to Transport Canada (TC) following last July’s fatal derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, federal Transport Minster Lisa Raitt announced on April 23 new initiatives to improve the safety of trains carrying dangerous goods. The measures that TC will undertake are as follows: • Issue a Protective Direction that will require shippers to develop Emergency Response Assistance Plans for single tank cars carrying crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel or ethanol; and • Issue a second Protective Direction requiring rail companies immediately to phase out approximately 5,000 tank cars that do not have continuous bottom reinforcement for crash resistance. Raitt suggested that companies could use these cars to carry non-dangerous goods instead. Transport Canada has already issued an Emergency Directive requiring rail companies to enforce safer operating practices recommended by the TSB, “including speed reductions and risk assessments. “For trains transporting dangerous goods, Transport Can-


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ada is introducing new, stricter requirements to safeguard the communities along our railway lines,” TC states in a backgrounder. It adds that a strong regulatory regime for trains travelling in both rural and urban areas is in place and that TC is “enhancing risk analysis and speed and infrastructure criteria for trains carrying dangerous goods.” Shortly after TC’s announcement, TSB chair Wendy Tadros said that she was “encouraged” by the transport minister’s strong response to the board’s recommendations. “It is my hope these measures will reduce the risks identified in the Lac-Mégantic investigation and improve the safety of Canada’s rail system.” She added that in the coming weeks, the TSB would study the details of TC’s announcement to assess and rate TC’s responses to these important recommendations fully. Nearly 50 people were killed in Lac-Mégantic in the early morning hours of July 6, 2013, when a freight train derailed and exploded. The train had been carrying crude oil in CTC111A tank cars, which have long been deemed insufficient for dangerous goods. — By Jeff Cottrill

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Social Development Canada (ESDC) would not process any new or pending Labour Market Opinion (LMO) applications from the food-services sector and that any unfilled positions tied to a previously-approved LMO would be suspended. Employers who have submitted applications and paid the processing fee, but have not yet received an LMO, will be refunded the full processing fee. “We have repeatedly warned employers that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must only be used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available,” Kenney says. The minister was made aware of allegations of abuse of the TFWP through Service Canada’s confidential tip line. He has directed officials to investigate, suspended LMOs and placed employers in question on a public blacklist. “Despite these actions, there remain serious concerns regarding the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the food-services sector,” he notes. “Those employers who are found to have lied about their efforts to hire Canadians could face potential criminal prosecution, with sanctions that include fines and jail time.” But advocacy group Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) argues that a moratorium will leave migrant workers in a more precarious position. “Migrant workers in Canada awaiting a decision on their LMOs and work permits will suffer immensely. Those trying to leave abusive employers will be locked in,” says Chris Ramsaroop, a migrant worker advocate with J4MW. Toronto-based Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) has called on the federal government to process pending and in-country LMOs and work-permit applications for migrant workers and develop a just transition method into permanent residency for migrants already in Canada, along with future immigrants in the low-wage, “low-skilled” sectors.

cian Denis Chabot at the Integra Tire shop in November of 2011. On the day of the accident, Lelievre moved his truck without performing a formal walk-around and inspection of his vehicle beforehand. Chabot was crushed beneath the truck. “Mr. Lelievre has accepted his responsibility in this matter and so, as an alternative to a long, complicated court proceeding, we are resolving this as an

administrative penalty,” YWCHSB director Kurt Dieckmann says. “We have every confidence the driver will not get behind the wheel again without doing a formal walk-around and inspection of his vehicle.” The $3,000 administrative penalty assessment ends two-and-a-half years of legal proceedings, which saw fines against Integra Tire, North 60 and a North 60 supervisor.

CHARGES AGAINST DRIVER STAYED WHITEHORSE — Crown prosecutors in Yukon have stayed charges against North 60 Petroleum driver Alan Lelievre, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) reports in a statement issued on April 9. Lelievre, who received a $3,000 administrative penalty instead, had been charged following the death of

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BOARD RELEASES FINDINGS KUSAWA LAKE — The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board has released its preliminary findings into the death of a worker. On the morning of January 26, three workers were herding six feral horses into a makeshift chute, created with fivefoot-high metal fencing panels staked to the ground within a wooden corral. The chute was used to guide the animals into a horse trailer for transportation off the property, says the report, released on April 4. Two workers were trying to close the chute by pivoting one of the metal panels across the entrance, while the third worker tried to keep the animals from escaping. One horse escaped the chute by slipping through a gap as one of the metal fence panels was being dragged into position, while a second horse tried to leap over the dragged panel, which broke under the impact. The broken panel knocked one worker to the ground, and the horse rolled

on top of him, causing serious head injuries. The worker died in hospital the following day.

TRUCK DRIVER KILLED IN MINE SPARWOOD — A 59-year-old truck driver has died following an industrial accident at the Teck Coal Mountain mine operation near Sparwood, British Columbia. On March 16, Miles Lorenz was filling his truck with water when “he was impacted by frozen rock, which fell from a separate vehicle,” the BC Coroners Service says. Lorenz, a resident of Coleman, Alberta, was transported to a hospital in Blairmore, Alberta, where he succumbed to his injury. The fatality was the third industrial accident in as many days in British Columbia. On March 15, a journeyman lineman with McGregor Construction was working near Terrace on a transmission tower when he was fatally injured. On March 17, 40-year-old Dejan Rasovic was killed while working on a dump truck at his residence in Kelowna.

TRAPPED WORKER PERISHES VANCOUVER — WorkSafeBC is investigating the death of a worker at a residential site in West Vancouver on March 20. “A worker was repairing an excavator bucket, which had been removed from an excavator, when the worker became trapped by the bucket and was fatally injured,” WorkSafeBC spokesperson Megan Johnston reports from Richmond, British Columbia. The worker was employed by Ponte Bros Contracting Ltd. in Burnaby. The West Vancouver Police Department says the 56-year-old worker, who was trapped beneath the excavation equipment after it had shifted, was found unresponsive and could not be revived.

AUTHORITIES PROBE FATALITY FORT MCMURRAY — Alberta’s occupational health and safety division and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the death of a Suncor worker.

RANDOM TESTING POLICY “UNREASONABLE” FORT MCMURRAY — A grievance arbitration board has ruled that a 2012 random drug and alcohol testing policy, in its present form, is unreasonable for workers at a Suncor Energy site in northern Alberta. The three-person arbitration board, consisting of chair Tom Hodges and employer and union nominees, released its ruling on March 18. Local 707A of Unifor (formerly the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union) filed a grievance on behalf of members at Suncor’s Athabasca oilsands operations near Fort McMurray, after the company announced the unilateral implementation of the random testing policy in 2012. In December of that year, the Court of Appeal of Alberta granted an injunction to block the implementation of the random policy until after the arbitration case was heard. Hodges notes in his ruling that the imposition of a random alcohol policy is an unreasonable exercise of management rights. “We find that the 14 positive alcohol tests over a nine-year period in a workforce the size of this employer does not establish that there is a significant problem or legitimate safety risk,” Hodges writes. With respect to random drug testing, Hodges says Suncor’s decision to use urine testing was confusing, considering that this type of test is easier to adulterate. “In effect, the most serious of offenders are finding ways to beat the test. The 2012 policy would cause intrusions into the privacy of employees beyond what is reasonably necessary.” Hodges also points out that the 2012 policy was proposed without any time limits for reviewing its effectiveness, was not targeted as narrowly as possible, did not use the


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least intrusive or more accurate testing measures available and did not contain provisions for communicating with employees about false positive results. Roland Lefort, president of Unifor Local 707A, says random testing is a violation of workers’ basic rights and that the union will continue to work with Suncor to ensure workplace safety through education and prevention, not invasive medical procedures. “There is no evidence that random testing improves safety, which is why Unifor is committed to more reliable methods to keep our members safe on the job while respecting the dignity of our members,” says Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president. The random substance-testing policy is separate from Suncor’s pre-existing drug and alcohol policy, which allows for post-incident and reasonable-cause testing. The appeal court ruling found that only six per cent of employees screened under this policy from January of 2009 until midJune of 2012 had tested positive. But Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal says investigations into the seven workplace fatalities at the company’s oilsands operations found three workers who had been under the influence of either drugs or alcohol when they were killed. In the decision, Hodges points out that all three fatalities involved contractor employees, not bargaining-unit employees. “We are obligated to provide a safe worksite for all our employees, contractors and visitors to the site,” Seetal says. “We are doing what we feel is necessary to fulfill that commitment.” — By Jason Contant

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Shane Daye from Fort McMurray was fatally injured while working at a tarsands site near Fort McMurray on April 20. “An electrician was performing voltage testing in an area containing electric panels when he collapsed,” reports Lisa Glover, spokesperson with the Government of Alberta’s occupational health and safety division in Edmonton. Suncor emergency-service personnel responded at approximately 11:30 a.m., and the worker was transported to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, where he was pronounced dead. The 27-year-old instrumentation technician had been working for Suncor for seven years, says the deceased worker’s sister, Christie Daye. The Daye family says they are “devastated by the loss.” Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal says the company will cooperate with the investigations and has started its own investigation to determine the root cause of the incident. “We have mobilized our criticalincident stress debriefing to other employees, and we are encouraging our employees to access that service if they feel they need it,” Seetal adds. This was the second worker fatality at Suncor this year. On January 19, 40-year-old employee Jerry Cooper was found lifeless in a pool of sand and water after he had gone to check on a leak on a pipeline at the tar-sands site north of Fort McMurray.

involving vehicles and unstable ice. “It is certainly something that we try to do our due diligence on to avoid.” The dangers of working on or around ice are addressed in Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. “Anytime workers are working on ice and there is a body of water, there are certain precautions that should be taken,” says Lisa Glover, spokesperson for Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

EXCLUSION REGULATION AMENDED REGINA — The government of Saskatchewan has amended the Workers’ Compensation Act Exclusion Regulations to bring amateur coaches, instructors and substitute teachers in the province under mandatory coverage. These workers will now have access to benefits and services if they are


car driver from Fredericton, New Brunswick has been killed in a worksite accident near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Jordan Gahan was working for Brayford Trucking Ltd. (BTL), based in Leduc County, when the accident occurred on March 14. Gahan was driving an excavator at the bottom of a borrow pit when the vehicle fell through ice, the oh&s department of Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour reports. “We are just sickened by this event and very shaken,” says Susan Brayford, office manager and safety officer with BTL. “We have done our procedures to remove the equipment. Obviously, they want to make sure that our procedures to do that are in accordance with what they want to see us do.” She adds that BTL plans for accidents

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injured on the job, including wage replacement, medical and hospital treatment and vocational rehabilitation, according to a statement released on May 1 by the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board. Employers who are affected by this amendment must revise their 2014 payroll estimates to include salaries for these employees from March 6 until the end of the year.

TRACTOR EJECTION KILLS TEEN HUMBOLDT — A worker has been killed after being thrown from a tractor on a rural road south of Humboldt, Saskatchewan on April 23. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports that the bucket on the vehicle’s front-end loader got caught on the road and the 19-year-old victim was ejected from the tractor’s side door. Emergency services arrived at the scene and declared the worker dead. The RCMP found nothing suspicious or criminal about the fatality and turned the case over to oh&s authorities.


in Estevan, Saskatchewan has issued a total of $8,370 in fines to seven construction workers from Manitoba for violating workplace safety legislation. The penalties, announced by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety on April 21, relate to charges stemming from a local workplace inspection on July 14, 2011. Dave Nicholson, who operates Dave’s Do It Right Construction (DDIRC) in Cypress River, Manitoba, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that workers used a fallprotection system in a work area where a worker could fall three metres or more and that all work was supervised sufficiently and competently. He was fined $1,000 with a $400 surcharge for the former violation and $800 with a $320 surcharge for the latter. Supervisor for DDIRC Kevin Sholdice was fined $600 with a $240 surcharge for failing to ensure that workers under his direction complied with the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations. A $200 fine with a $50 surcharge was meted out for failing to ensure that workers used a fall-


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protection system in a work area where a worker could fall at least three metres. Five other workers — Dean Nash, Trevor Robidoux, Chris Hacault, Kevin Boyd and Sam De’Athe — pleaded guilty to the failure to use a fall-protection system where they could have fallen three metres or more and were each issued a fine of either $600 or $800 plus a surcharge. Joel Bender, director of legal affairs with the Saskatchewan government’s occupational health and safety division, confirms all seven workers were DDIRC employees working on the same site when two inspection officers observed them on a roof and an elevating platform without fall-protection equipment. He adds that out-of-province workers who operate within Saskatchewan are subject to Saskatchewan’s oh&s legislation and standards.

FIRM PENALIZED FOR FATALITY OUTLOOK — South Saskatchewan River Irrigation District No. 1, Inc. was fined $49,000 on March 13, after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. The charges relate to a workplace fatality on August 27, 2012, when a worker drowned while shutting down a water pump and draining canals near Outlook, the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety reports.

POLICE OFFICER WOUNDED WINNIPEG — A police officer in Manito-

ba was wounded and another escaped serious injury after being struck while attempting to restrain a suspect. On April 8, members of the Manitoba Integrated Warrant Apprehension Unit went to a residence to arrest a 38-year-old man on two outstanding warrants, the Winnipeg Police Service reports. The man’s resistance spurred a dog in the residence to bite one officer. Once restrained, the man continued to struggle and kicked one officer twice in the lower body. Douglas Tristam was processed on the outstanding warrants for aggravated sexual assault and breach of probation. He was further charged with assaulting a peace officer, resisting arrest and three counts of failure to comply with a probation order.

FALLING WALL KILLS WORKER OTTAWA — A 45-year-old worker has suffered a fatal head injury at a construction site in downtown Ottawa, after part of a cinder-block wall struck him while a crew was demolishing it. On April 21, fellow workers renovating the Bank of Canada tried to resuscitate the man, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The Ottawa Police Service says the Ottawa Police Central District Investigations and the Ontario Ministry of Labour are investigating the incident.


turer of railroad freight cars in Hamilton, Ontario was fined $140,000 on April 24, after a worker sustained a permanent injury while operating a hydraulic press machine. On December 19, 2011, an employee of National Steel Car Ltd. was helping a press operator when he noticed a loose component behind the machine’s punch line, the Ontario Ministry of Labour reports. Thinking that the operator had stopped the machine, the helper reached under the line to adjust the component when the operator activated the press, causing a permanent pinching injury to the helper’s arm. An investigation by the provincial labour ministry found that an electronic safety beam had not been properly adjusted at the time of the incident. Although an external provider trained some workers on how to operate the press, the two workers in question did not receive this training. National Steel Car was fined after pleading guilty to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker.

EMPLOYEES STABBED IN OFFICE TORONTO — Police have arrested a 47-year-old man after four employees of Ceridian Canada Ltd. were stabbed in an office in north Toronto on April 9. The Toronto Police Service (TPS) responded that morning after a man had attacked several people with a sharp object on the building’s fifth floor. “When we got there, we locked

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CORONER’S JURY MAKES SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS TORONTO — Ontario school boards and the Ministry of Labour (MOL) are preparing their responses to recent recommendations from the Office of the Chief Coroner on improving the safety of students and employees in high school technology classes. A coroner’s jury issued the recommendations on April 3 as part of an inquiry into the death of Catholic high school student Eric Leighton in Ottawa nearly three years ago. The coroner’s jury determined that the incident involving the 18-year-old student at Mother Teresa High School, who was killed on May 26, 2011 when an empty drum exploded in his shop class, was an accident. Leighton was welding a 55-gallon drum containing the residue of peppermint oil when the explosion occurred. The substance, considered a Class B-3 substance by the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, is flammable and combustible with a flash point between 37.8 and 93.3 degrees Celsius. “We are committed to the safety of our students and will work each and every day going forward to ensure that what happened to Eric never happens again,” Julian Hanlon, director of education at the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), says in response to the recommendations. Since Leighton’s death, the school board, in consultation with the MOL, has reviewed the safety procedures at its schools related to high school technology classes. New procedures for Ottawa Catholic schools include the following: • A project plan: Technology students must submit project plans to be reviewed by educators and the principal; • A hot-work permit program: Students conducting welding,

down the entire building and traced everything back to just the fifth floor. So eventually, it was only the fifth floor that was locked down,” TPS spokesperson Constable Victor Kwong reports. “We got one man who had been held down by fellow employees, and he was arrested with no further incident.” The TPS says three men and one woman were sent to the hospital after the attack. The police identified the alleged assailant as Chuang Li, who lives in Mississauga. Li faces 11 charges: three counts of attempted murder, four of aggravated assault and four of assault with a weapon.


in London, Ontario is facing nine charges under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in connection with an electrocution that killed one worker and injured three. Jeremy Bowley, 21, was killed when

grinding and cutting work must complete a Hot Work Permit outlining the equipment and materials to be used and ensure that students have proper safety training; • Technological-education safety guidelines: This includes occupational health and safety information, staff and student safety-training requirements, procurement of material information and emergency contact information. Ongoing specialized training is also provided to teachers; • Materials: Technological class project materials must be purchased from an approved vendor or supplier; and • Safety documents: Principals, vice-principals, subject department heads and subject teachers must read relevant safety documents and external safety audits. The recommendation that school boards in Ontario follow similar safety procedures to those instituted by the OCSB is among the 22 directives issued by the coroner’s jury. It also recommends that information contained in the MOL’s Engineering Data Sheet 4-14 be included in hot-work teaching materials and that the rule, “Never assume that a container is clean and safe,” be specifically cited. The jury also made recommendations to the Ministry of Education, the Ontario Council for Technology Education, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities and the MOL. The directives issued to the MOL include implementing an integrated health and safety strategy to raise awareness of and compliance with health and safety in schools, conducting further inspections of schools and considering developing an additional qualifications course in health and safety for teachers. — By Carmelle Wolfson

the pole of a large outdoor tent contacted a power line while a crew of six was setting up the tent for a wedding celebration near Watford last August 1. The Ontario Ministry of Labour reports that the charges were laid on April 7. As an employer, Signature Events Rental Shoppe is facing counts of failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to workers for the protection of their health or safety and failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers. Reasonable precautions in this case include establishing and maintaining a hazard-awareness program for employees, establishing a safe working procedure for erecting tents and assessing a site for potential hazards before allowing employees to erect a tent there. The company is also facing charges as a constructor for failing to protect workers’ health and safety and failing to carry out the measures and procedures under sections 188(2), 183, 187, 14(1), 22(1) and 93(3) of the OHSA regulation dealing with construction projects.

Specifically, the company has been charged with failing to appoint a supervisor for the project, failing to equip every worker with protective headwear, failing to operate equipment according to manuals and failing to take all reasonable precautions to protect employees from electrical hazards. “A successful prosecution could, for each conviction, result in a fine of up to $25,000 for an individual person and/ or up to 12 months’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation,” says Bruce Skeaff, spokesperson for the labour ministry in Toronto.


Ltd. in Campbellville, Ontario has pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable precautions for the safety of a worker in connection with a fatality. The firm was fined $140,000 on April 8, after pleading guilty to failing to ensure that workers did not walk on a

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CHANGES TO APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education has introduced legislative changes that it says will increase employer involvement in apprenticeships and make it easier for apprentices to complete their training and get jobs in Nova Scotia. Introduced on April 10, amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and the Community Colleges Act will lay the groundwork for establishing an industry-led apprenticeship agency, make it easier to recognize apprentices with out-of-province experience and ensure that apprentices get the required training. “We need to change the way the apprenticeship system works in Nova Scotia if we want our businesses and apprentices to succeed,” Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan says. “These changes will help us to build on our partnerships with industry, employers, apprentices and trainers, so our trades can continue to grow and our workforce can take full advantage of opportunities.” Under the new rules, the province can issue cease-anddesist orders when someone without a certificate practises in compulsory trades. Apprentices in Nova Scotia who need to work in other provinces to gain practical experience can

concrete pad while a wheel loader was in operation. On December 20, 2011, a section of the farm that included a new concrete pad was turned over to Monaghan Mushrooms, so that the company could resume farming operations on that part of the site. An employee began driving a front-end loader back and forth on the new pad to pick up compost and drop it into a hopper at the other end, as workers were crossing the pad. While reversing, the loader struck a sub-contractor’s worker, killing him.

MINISTRY PROBES SMELTER DEATH SUDBURY — Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL) is investigating a fatality that took place at a smelter in the Copper Cliff neighbourhood of Sudbury. On April 6, the MOL was notified that two workers had been found unconscious in the crushing end of Vale’s Copper Cliff smelter complex. The workers received first aid until emergency medical services arrived to transport them to hospital, MOL spokesperson Bruce Skeaff reports. One worker succumbed to his injuries, while a second worker was injured. No orders had been issued at press time. The Greater Sudbury Police Service, which secured the scene of the incident, identified the deceased worker as


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keep their apprenticeship registrations in Nova Scotia. “The system worked for some and not for others, so we simply gave it a tune-up. This is a win-win situation. Industry will have input on the training and delivery, and the apprentices will get the training they require for employment,” says Heather Cruickshanks, co-owner of L.E. Cruickshanks Sheet Metal Ltd. in Halifax and a member of the industry implementation team. With industry involvement, fourth-year apprentice Devon Connors says “the training, testing and what industry really needs us to know will line up and we will learn what we need for our trade.” The changes stem from a series of consultations over the last few years with apprentices, employers, industry members and trainers who identified ways to improve the province’s apprenticeship system. Recent changes to modernize apprenticeship also include greater flexibility and authority for industry to set trade-specific ratios, harmonization of apprenticeship programming and standards across the Atlantic provinces and a $2.6-million investment to expand apprenticeship training and program development, the ministry statement notes. — By Jason Contant

36-year-old Paul Rochette of Greater Sudbury. The second worker, a 28-yearold man, suffered serious injuries. Rochette’s death was the fourth workplace fatality at Vale in the past three years. In January of 2012, Stephen Perry was killed at Vale’s Coleman mine while operating heavy machinery about 1,200 metres underground. Perry was struck by a piece of rock that had dislodged from the wall of an ore body. In June of 2011, 35-year-old Jason Chenier and 26-year-old Jordan Fram were killed when about 350 tonnes of wet, sandy muck came barrelling down an ore pass. The company was fined a total of $1,050,000 — the highest-ever in Ontario — over the fatalities.


was issued a fine $275,000 on April 4 for an explosion that killed a worker at its mill in northern Ontario more than two years ago. On October 31, 2011, workers employed by a sub-contractor were welding a hairline crack in the wall of a steel tank known as a blow tank, when an explosion caused the top section of the tank — measuring about 70 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter — to shoot upwards into steel beams supporting the roof of the fa-

cility, creating a 30-foot hole in the roof and a debris field with a radius of about 300 feet. A mill worker who was cleaning the tank was killed, while the sub-contractor‘s workers required medical attention. An investigation by the provincial labour ministry confirms that welding repairs to the tank had been allowed to proceed before the tank had been rendered free of any hazardous substances.

WORKPLACE INJURIES DECLINE HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s workplace inju-

ry rate has hit a new low, says the 2013 annual report from the province’s workers’ compensation board (WCB). Only 1.86 out of every 100 workers lost three or more days of work because of an occupational injury. This represents a 35 per cent drop since 2005 and also the lowest since the WCB started tracking the province’s workplace injury rates annually in 2000, according to the report, released on April 17. “It is our goal to be the safest place to work in Canada,” says the WCB’s chief executive officer Stuart MacLean. “In Nova Scotia, we have seen attitudes begin to change. We have seen investment in health and safety.” The province’s total registered workplace injury claims decreased from

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26,422 in 2012 to 25,050 last year. There was also a yearly decline in the number of workplace injuries resulting in time-loss. The number of injured workers who received full-time benefits also fell, and the province’s nine largest industries experienced drops in injury rates. But Mary Lloyd, president of the New Glasgow-based Pictou County Injured Workers Association, says the low numbers were due to underreporting and claim suppression. She also accused the Board of classifying some incidents as “reoccurrences” when workers had previously suffered unrelated injuries. “The Board’s stats are based on experience rating,” Lloyd charges, referring to the practice of using incomplete statistics to convey a certain impression. She cites two types of Nova Scotia employers who have been swaying the numbers: those who coerce workers to use up their sick days rather than file claims, and those who have in-house medical services that discourage workers from getting outside treatment. She alleges that the WCB is fully aware of these practices. MacLean acknowledges the possibility that underreporting and claim suppression happen in some cases, but maintains that the report is evidence of improvement. “There has been no change in our methodology in terms of how we actually count the number of time-loss injuries,” he explains, adding that in-house medical services were a best-practices approach that “gives the injured worker the best chances of success for healing.” Kelly Regan, the province’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, is pleased with the WCB’s data, but cautions that work needs to be done to prevent future incidents. “We are increasing our inspections on high-risk industries, we are hiring a new prosecutor who will focus on oh&s offences and we are continuing to build on our strong partnership with the Workers Compensation Board, safety partners, employers and workers to improve the workplace safety culture in Nova Scotia,” Regan says.


Safety and Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador (WHSCC) has announced its latest inductee into its CEO Safety Charter.

Terry Croucher, president of Newfoundland and Labrador Vegetation Control Ltd. (NLVC) in Springdale, became the 59th business leader since 2007 to sign the charter, the WHSCC reports. The charter’s mandate is to support the continuous improvement of healthy and safe workplaces throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. NLVC employs about 170 people. “A strong safety culture is the cornerstone of a strong safety program,” Croucher says.

REPORT SHOWS MIXED RESULTS ST. JOHN’S — A report from the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) of Newfoundland and Labrador has yielded mixed results in the province’s oh&s performance. While the lost-time incidence rate of 1.6 incidents per 100 workers for 2013 was the lowest in the WHSCC’s history, the number of occupational-disease fatalities increased from 20 in 2012 to 25. There was a total of 30 work-related deaths last year, notes the report released on April 24. The province has also seen the annual average number of deaths from occupational disease rise from 13 between 2004 and 2008 to 21 over the subsequent five years. “We have been tracking occupational disease and the fatality aspects as one part of that for a long while,” says the WHSCC’s chief executive officer Leslie Galway. “In a working population of this size, we would be concerned with these outcomes.” She defines occupational disease as an illness that results from constant exposure to irritants at work over a long period of time.

Regarding how the overall rate of workplace injuries and deaths can decline while occupational disease increases, Galway explains that occupational disease develops over the long term. “So it takes quite a period of time before you actually see this demonstrated as a disease and a claim to the Commission.” To address the rise in fatalities from occupational disease in the province, the Commission plans to increase its prevention and awareness campaign through online and radio content, workshops and seminars, and posters on protecting against exposure to dangerous irritants. “We have visited with those employers and worksites, so that we can do more to assist them in understanding the exposures and how to protect themselves,” Galway says. The WHSCC has also developed respiratory-protection audit tools for employers to assess whether the measures they have taken adequately protect their workers. “And we have introduced an occupational-disease component on occupational health, hearing protection and mental health into our high-school curriculum program,” she adds. Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada Many of the preceding items are based on stories from our sister publication, canadian





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Lighting influences decisions and emotions, study says By Carmelle Wolfson


or those who are heading to a meeting where important decisions will be made, keep an eye out for whether the lights in the room are working in your favour. A study from the University of Toronto (UofT) Scarborough found that the way a room is lit can affect moods and how people make decisions. The finding that human emotions — positive or negative — are felt more intensely under bright light stems from a study conducted by Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of management at UofT Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management, along with Aparna Labroo of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Participants of the study were asked to rate various things under different lighting conditions, including the spiciness of chicken-wing sauce, the aggressiveness of a fictional character, the attractiveness of women, their feelings towards specific words and the taste of two types of juice. Results show that bright lights accentuate the intensity of emotions: in a brighter room, participants wanted spicier chicken-wing sauce; rated the fictional character as more aggressive; found the women more attractive; felt better about positive words and worse about negative words; and drank more of the “favourable” juice.  Xu believes that the effect bright light has on a person’s feelings may be the result of light being perceived as heat, which can trigger emotions. “Bright light intensifies the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus, including products and people,” Xu says.  These findings may have practical applications in the workplace. In corporate meetings, dimming the light can make the environment more conducive to rational decisions and even serve as an aid during labour negotiations by toning down emotions, which are likely to run high on both sides when settling disputes.   Xu acknowledges the paradox of her findings from other evidence, which shows that on sunny days, people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher well-being and are more helpful, while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can lead to seasonal affective disorder. “Contrary to these results, we found that on sunny days,


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depression-prone people actually become more depressed,” she says, pointing to peaks in suicide rates during sunny periods in late spring and summer. Apart from lighting, other changes to a work environment can also influence the functioning of an organization. Research conducted by Cécile R.L. Boot, Ph.D. of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows that making changes to the social or physical environment of a financial services firm yielded “small but significant effects” on work-related outcomes.   In this study, social interactions, such as group motivational interviews, were shown to promote physical activity and relaxation and improve work task performance. Physical changes, which included different workplace zones for quiet work, meetings and recreation or a combination of both, were associated with better concentration on work tasks.  Carmelle Wolfson is assistant editor of

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Floatplane safety response gets mixed review By Jeff Cottrill


he Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has given a mixed review of Transport Canada’s (TC) response to two recommendations that aimed to make floatplanes safer. The TSB’s recommendations were prompted by an incident that took place on May 25, 2012, when a Cochrane Air Service de Havilland DHC-2 Mk.1 Beaver floatplane failed to land properly and went into Lillabelle Lake in Ontario. One of the two passengers was rescued, while the other passenger and the pilot drowned. Following its investigation of the floatplane tragedy, the TSB recommended that TC initiate mandatory emergency egress training for pilots of commercial floatplanes and install shoulder harnesses in all commercial floatplanes with nine or fewer seats. According to the TSB’s Assessment Rating Guide, which grades how well organizations have responded to its recommendations and how effective they are in addressing underlying safety deficiencies, TC received a score of “satisfactory intent” for the emergency egress recommendation and one of “unsatisfactory” regarding the shoulder harness recommendation. While TC has plans to propose regulations that require emergency egress training, it has deemed the requirement for mandatory shoulder harnesses unfeasible.

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“The proposed recommendation is not practical for the Canadian fleet of seaplanes,” says TC spokesperson Karine Martel. “Mandating the retrofitting of shoulder restraints for all occupants is not practical, as most of the aircraft structures are not robust enough to support shoulder restraints in a crash and it may hinder evacuation of the aircraft.” But the TSB maintains that shoulder harnesses could save lives and that their safety benefits are beyond question — to the degree that they are now standard on many floatplanes, including common Cessna and DHC-2 planes. Mark Clitsome, the TSB’s director of air investigations, reports that over the years, the agency has done a number of studies and investigations. Findings indicate that occupants of an aircraft can sometimes lose consciousness because of head trauma, if they are not restrained or protected properly during an impact. Instead of making shoulder harnesses compulsory, TC has stated that it plans to continue promoting safety education and conducting awareness campaigns. “Once again this year, the department distributed floatplane awareness safety material to operators to share with passengers,” Martel says. “Transport Canada recommends the adoption of best practices in relation to floatplane safety, including upper-body restraints to be used by front-seat occupants, briefing to passengers on the proper usage of flotation devices during emergency egress, emergency egress training for flight crew and the adoption of aircraft safety design improvements to facilitate egress.” Martel adds that TC also intends to amend the Canadian Aviation Regulations to establish emergency egress training for flight crews of commercial fixed-wing floatplanes. The amendments are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette Part I in the fall. Jeff Cottrill is editorial assistant of

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One drink may be one too many for older drivers By Jean Lian


or salespeople or employees in senior management, entertaining clients and talking business over a drink or two may be part of the job. But for those aged 55 years or older, take heed: you may have had only one glass of wine with dinner, but that single serving may hit you hard enough to make you a dangerous driver. This is the finding of a study out of the University of Florida in Gainesville, released in March. Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., professor in the departments of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Florida and Alfredo Sklar, doctoral candidate at the Center for Addiction Research and Education

at the University of Florida College of Medicine, tested how drinking legally non-intoxicating levels of alcohol affected the driving skills of two age groups, each comprising 36 participants. Subjects in the first group were between the ages of 25 and 35, while the second group was made up of participants between 55 and 70 years old.              Both groups were required to complete a simulated driving task while completely sober. The test involved driving down a winding threemile stretch of country road on a large computer monitor, flanked by two monitors at the side resembling the side windows of a car and screening what drivers would see in their peripheral vision. The only distraction that drivers encountered was an occasional oncoming car. The researchers assessed the drivers’ ability to stay in the centre of their lanes, maintain a constant speed and adjust their steering wheels rapidly. On another day, the two groups were sub-divided into smaller groups: the first took a placebo, the second was given a drink strong enough to produce a breath-test reading of 0.04 per cent and the third was served a drink that gave them a breath-test reading of 0.065 per cent — still below the federal legal level for drinking of 0.08 per cent. Participants then completed the same driving task. Researchers timed the task so that participants’ blood alcohol levels were declining at the same rate as in individuals who have a drink with dinner before driving home. Although neither age group consumed enough alcohol to push them over the legal driving limit, results indicate that alcohol consumption has no effect on the driving skills of younger adults, but small, legal levels of intoxication can affect the driving abilities of older people.  While these simulations have been used to look at older adults and how alcohol affects the driving of younger adults, “no one has ever looked at the combination of aging drivers and alcohol,” Sklar says. The researchers suggest that it could be time to reassess the legal blood alcohol levels for all drivers.  In less than 10 years, one in four Canadians will be older than 65, the Canadian Automobile Association notes. While older drivers may be more susceptible to the intoxication effects from consuming small amounts of alcohol than younger drivers are, data from Statistics Canada show that impaireddriving rates in 2011 remained the highest among drivers aged 20 to 24.   Regardless of age, the prudent thing for both younger and older drivers to do is to watch their limits and avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking. And baby boomers who are young at heart may just have to come to terms with the fact that they can no longer drink like they used to. Jean Lian is editor of

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Supreme Court dismisses employee’s stress appeal

context of psychological stress claims does not conflict with the GECA and was applicable to the appellant’s claim,” Justice Karakatsanis notes, calling the Alberta authorities’ decision to deny workers’ compensation to Martin “reasonable.”


Nova Scotia gets serious on fishing safety

By Jeff Cottrill

he Supreme Court of Canada has turned down a Parks Canada employee’s appeal of his workers’ compensation claim for chronic onset stress, on the grounds that provincial policies apply to federal workers covered under the Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA). According to the court judgement, filed on March 28, Alberta park warden Douglas Martin initiated a claim for workers’ compensation in January of 2007 while on medical leave. Martin said fear of dismissal had triggered a psychological condition. He had received a letter from the employer threatening “disciplinary action” if he did not reply to a request for information disclosure, but the deadline of December 13 had been five days before the letter arrived. “In 2000, he commenced a health and safety complaint against Parks Canada, arguing that wardens should be armed when carrying out law enforcement duties,” Justice Andromache Karakatsanis writes in the decision. “This complaint generated various internal complaint processes, court cases and appeals. The appellant felt that he suffered a loss of work, training and promotion opportunities as a result.” Consequently, Martin claimed to have been suffering from chronic stress, which the December 18 letter only exacerbated. Three provincial authorities, including the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board, denied Martin’s claim, reasoning that it conflicted with two criteria set out by the Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors’ Policy. One of these criteria states that “the work-related events are excessive or unusual in comparison to the normal pressures and tensions experienced by the average worker in a similar occupation,” while the other calls for “objective confirmation of the events.” Justice Karakatsanis says the predominant cause of Martin’s psychological injury was his reaction to a letter from his employer. “Such a request was not excessive or unusual in terms of normal pressures and tensions in a similar occupation.” A judicial review by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench concluded that provincial policies did not apply and that the GECA determined federal employees’ eligibility for workers’ compensation. But the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the GECA did not conflict with provincial criteria for eligibility. In the decision, Justice Karakatsanis argues that Parliament intended to rely on provincial policy when it enacted the GECA, except whenever the Act conflicted with said policy. “The Alberta Policy’s interpretation of ‘accident’ in the


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By Jason Contant


ova Scotia is inviting fish harvesters, their families and their communities to help form the Safe at Sea Alliance (SSA) and develop a Fishing Safety Action Plan to reduce fatalities and improve fishing safety. “We have certainly come a long way in the industry,” says Leonard LeBlanc, a member of the Gulf Nova Scotia Fisherman’s Coalition in Cheticamp. “But more needs to be done. We need to take things a step further, be more proactive as an industry, and that is what this new approach is all about.” A joint statement from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia says the fishing industry, which contributes more than $1 billion annually to the provincial economy, is also one of the most dangerous sectors. The province yielded eight fishing fatalities in 2013, a figure that represents nearly onequarter of workplace deaths. About 30 members of the fishing industry gathered in Halifax on March 6 to talk about what needed to be done to improve fishing safety in the province. As a key component of the province’s workplace safety strategy, fishing safety has also been identified as a key pillar in the province’s new Commercial Fisheries Strategy. “The number of fatalities and injuries in the fishing industry is unacceptable and must be addressed,” Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell says. “The fishing safety plan will be a key contribution to the safety and training part of the Commercial Fisheries Strategy. We are pleased to be part of this important initiative.” Although few details of the action plan have been announced, Nova Scotia says provincial and federal government and industry association partners will join the SSA to implement recommendations once the plan is developed. Industry input will be solicited through gatherings in fishing communities held across the province in the coming months. “Too many people are dying at work in Nova Scotia’s fishing sector,” says Stuart MacLean, chief executive officer of the workers’ compensation board. “But in order for there to be real change, it has to be led by the fishing industry. That is why we are reaching out to fishermen, their families and communities. We are asking them to help drive this change.” Jason Contant is editor of safety news.

canadian occupational health and

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“Flexibility stigma” hurts workplace morale By Jean Lian


recent study down south has found that workplace bias against employees adopting flexible work arrangements to take care of their children may have a spillover effect by increasing dissatisfaction and turnover among staff who are not parents. “We are interested in understanding the gap between the traditional nine-to-five work setting and what workers actually need,” says the study’s lead author Erin Cech, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at Rice University in Houston. “The majority of parents are in the workforce today, yet the expectations and arrangements of work have stayed more or less the same as they were post-World War II.”  The study examined “flexibility stigma” — defined as employers’ and co-workers’ negative attitudes towards employees who seek or are presumed to need flexible work arrangements to deal with childcare responsibilities — in one university. Respondents, which included 266 science, technology, engineering and math faculty members at a topranked university, answered online survey questions about whether mothers and fathers with young or school-aged children were perceived as less committed to their careers than those who were not parents and whether employees who adopted formal or informal arrangements for work-life balance experienced negative career consequences.   The study found that people who reported an awareness of flexibility stigma in their departments — regardless of whether they were parents themselves — were less interested in staying at their jobs, more likely to want to leave academia and less satisfied with their jobs than those who did not report flexibility stigma in their departments. They also felt as though they had less work-life balance.    “Flexibility stigma is not just a workers’ problem,” concludes study co-author Mary Blair-Loy, associate professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego and founding director of the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions. “Workplaces where this bias exists are more likely to have a toxic culture that hurts the entire department, not only in terms of work-life balance, but also retention and job satisfaction, which may affect department productivity.”  The study could shed light on workplace issues across a spectrum of professional fields. The work-devotion schema, which revolves around the idea that one’s career requires in-

tense time commitment and strong loyalty, is a mandate that is unconsciously part of many professional workplaces and underlies the flexibility stigma, Blair-Loy suggests. But these findings also suggest that many faculty members who do not have children are aware of the flexibility stigma. “These individuals can be real allies in making a more inclusive, welcoming environment for everyone,” Blair-Loy says.

Canadian reporter wounded in shooting in Afghanistan By Carmelle Wolfson


Canadian reporter was injured following an attack in eastern Afghanistan on the eve of an election. Associated Press (AP) journalist Kathy Gannon of Timmins, Ontario was shot, and her colleague, 48-year-old German AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, was killed, after an Afghan police officer opened fire on their vehicle in Khost province on April 4. The journalists, who were covering the lead-up to the elections in Afghanistan, were sitting in their car, reportedly waiting for the armed convoy they were part of to move when the attack occurred. Gannon, a regional correspondent and past bureau chief for AP in Afghanistan, was taken to a French-run NATO military medical facility in Kabul, where she was treated for at least three gunshot wounds to her arms and right shoulder. “As conflict spreads throughout regions of the world, journalism has become more dangerous. Where once reporters and photographers were seen as the impartial eyes and ears of crucial information, today they are often targets,” says AP’s chief executive officer Gary Pruitt. Pruitt adds that the press agency “takes the security of its staff very seriously, equipping them with protective gear and intensive training. Yet even that is sometimes not enough.” Niedringhaus is AP’s 32nd staff fatality killed on the job since 1846. Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression in Toronto, says Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous regions for correspondents. He notes that reporters are increasingly at risk, as news organizations nowadays rely heavily on freelancers, but do not provide them with insurance. “It is always better when you have an organization behind you. Someone that, if you are kidnapped, has insurance for ransom or that can lobby on your behalf with the government and that can pay your medical bills,” Henheffer says. He advises journalists who are reporting in foreign countries to engage a local guide and avoid “parachuting” into a location without knowing the culture and language or having developed local contacts. Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada J U N E 2 0 1 4

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It has been more than two years since an explosion and a fire killed two workers and injured 20 at the Babine Forest Products sawmill, east of Burns Lake in British Columbia. Today, a legal controversy surrounds WorkSafeBC’s investigation process, which played a role in the Criminal Justice Branch’s decision not to press criminal charges against the sawmill.

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n January 10, British Columbia’s Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) announced that criminal or regulatory charges would not be laid against the Babine Forest Products sawmill, in relation to the explosion that had killed two workers and injured 20 others in January of 2012. Following this disclosure, the provincial government, headed by Premier Christy Clark, initiated an inquiry into WorkSafeBC’s investigation. The resulting report, Babine Explosion Investigation: Fact Pattern and Recommendations, was published on February 13. Written by John Dyble, Clark’s deputy minister and the British Columbia head of public service, the report claims that WorkSafeBC’s method of gathering evidence was unsatisfactory and that the organization failed to consider important legal precedents regarding evidence collection for criminal prosecution, particularly the Ling and Jarvis cases from November of 2002. These cases established the framework for any investigation in which the focus switches from finding out what caused an event to gathering evidence of a criminal or regulatory offence. “Warrantless, administrative inspection powers cannot be used to gather evidence for an investigation into possible regulatory charges once such an investigation has commenced,” the report concludes. Although the CJB sent an email to WorkSafeBC last November, raising concerns that the safety agency’s investigation was not consistent with the Ling and Jarvis precedents, WorkSafeBC responded that its strategy had been to “collect all the evidence, then make a decision about pursuing charges against Babine,” and that this was a decision that fell within its independent discretion. As a result, the inadmissibility of the evidence became one of the factors that resulted in the CJB’s decision not to press charges. The Ling and Jarvis cases dealt with the issue of whether tax audits could be used to investigate or prosecute offences under the Income Tax Act without violating the taxpayer’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court’s 2002 decision was that an individual whose audit subsequently became an investigation was entitled to the same Charter protections as an individual faced with an investigation from the outset. This ruling has implications for other regulatory contexts employing broad inquiry powers to compel information and regulatory offences that may entail penal consequences. “WorkSafeBC’s examination of the fire site and the related inquiries were all conducted as a safety-compliance inspection, rather than as an investigation into possible criminal or regulatory enforcement,” explains Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel with the CJB in Victoria. “This approach did not adequately take into account the legal requirements for the collection of evidence that apply when it is understood that the evidence gathered by an agency may subsequently be used for the purposes of prosecution.” Dyble’s report includes a series of recommendations concerned mostly with improving the working relationship between WorkSafeBC and the CJB. Mackenzie says the report “recognizes the importance of investigatory and prosecutorial independence, while at the same time identifying the benefits of increased communication and cooperation.”

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Keep It Together ERR ON CAUTION Shortly after the report’s publication, WorkSafeBC said in a statement that it appreciated the opportunity to participate in the review and was beginning work on the recommendations. “This report addresses the law and the procedures that underpin investigation and referral for prosecution to the Crown under the Workers Compensation Act; it is a valuable document, and WorkSafeBC will be working quickly towards implementation of the recommendations,” the statement reads. “Our government takes workplace safety seriously and has made it a priority to examine ways to ensure effective, thorough investigations when workplace fatalities occur,” Shirley Bond, British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, says from Victoria. She adds that the CJB’s decisions on whether to prosecute oh&s incidents are independent of the government. “We have been clear that we expect more from employers.” WorkSafeBC claimed that its investigation had been one of the largest scene examinations in the history of the safety agency and the province. The investigation took about three months and involved an examination of more than 700 exhibits, 14,000 photographs, in excess of 100 interviews and tests of several different hypotheses as to the cause of the explosion. Harry Bains, opposition critic for WorkSafeBC and an NDP member of the British Columbia legislature representing Surrey Newton, feels that the government report is an unfair assessment of WorkSafeBC’s efforts, partly due to the lack of objectivity. “John Dyble is the right-hand person of the premier, as a deputy minister to the premier. His mandate and, I think, the appearance of not being neutral and independent also clogged the issue,” he suggests. Bains adds that Dyble’s role did not have the scope to expand WorkSafeBC’s investigation or to assess the strength of the working relationship between WorkSafeBC and the CJB. “Also, Mr. Dyble did not look at who was responsible if it was a preventable incident, as WorkSafeBC has said it was preventable,” he notes. Mackenzie counters that it was still up to WorkSafeBC to decide the course of its investigation, regardless of Dyble’s credibility. “Anytime an agency considers that regulatory charges are probable,” he says, “evidentiary precautions must be taken and any evidence collected in the absence of these precautions will face potential admissibility issues.” WHICH WAY TO GO? Several kinds of charges can result from an investigation like the one that looked into the Babine incident: charges under the Criminal Code of Canada; regulatory charges under British Columbia’s law; and administrative penalties for breaching the province’s Workers Compensation Act. As Mackenzie points out, agencies like WorkSafeBC or the police have to assess each separate case based on its individual circumstances when determining whether to proceed with charges as a possibility. While the CJB can provide advice, he says “it is ultimately the decision of the investigating agency to determine the specific course an investigation will take.” But the potential for charges may not be apparent at the 22

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In his report on WorkSafeBC’s investigation of the Babine mill tragedy, Babine Explosion Investigation: Fact Pattern and Recommendations, John Dyble puts forward a series of recommendations, largely guided by the intention to get WorkSafeBC and the province’s Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) to work together more effectively. The recommendations are grouped under the following categories: 1. Improve interaction between investigating and prosecuting agencies: • The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WorkSafeBC and the police should be updated, and there needs to be a similar MOU between WorkSafeBC and the CJB to clarify the issues of disclosing and preparing reports to Crown Counsel. • WorkSafeBC and the CJB need to establish a means for the former to get legal consultation appropriately after major incidents like the Babine tragedy, in a way that does not put the CJB in a position of “directing” the investigation. • The CJB should make prosecutors with oh&s expertise accessible to WorkSafeBC investigators for legal consultation during major cases, and both organizations should have semi-annual meetings to discuss new legal developments in workplace safety investigations and other relevant issues. 2. Enhance policies, procedures and communications within WorkSafeBC: • The board and chief executive officer of WorkSafeBC should take measures to address the lack of processes for internal communication. WorkSafeBC needs to update its communication procedures and approaches and adopt new training to make internal communication more effective. 3. Beef up training and working relationships: • The CJB will provide training materials on disclosure and preparing reports to the Crown for WorkSafeBC. • The CJB should review WorkSafeBC’s MOU with the police from a prosecution point of view and provide input as necessary. •  The CJB will make the Crown Counsel available to WorkSafeBC through training and seminars. • WorkSafeBC should consider conducting a comprehensive review of its current inspection and investigative practices in light of governing legal principles. 4. Move forward: • Lawyer Leonard Doust, Queen’s Counsel, who served as an advisor for Dyble’s report, will remain on hand to ensure that the preceding recommendations are put into practice. He is expected to review their implementation with the Deputy Minister of Labour and Deputy Attorney General and to make any other recommendations as required.

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beginning. So how does a workers’ compensation board determine if criminal charges should be part of the equation in such an investigation, without the benefit of hindsight? Bains suggests that all occupational injuries and fatalities should be treated as non-workplace incidents. “That would require a Crown prosecutor,” he says. “And we need WorkSafeBC inspectors and RCMP or the local police trained in order to conduct the investigation, so they view workplace death as a homicide.” Bains points out that this has not been happening. “That is what’s needed, and also there needs to be a specialized policy.” Lawyer Heather Hettiarachchi, chair of the labour and employment practice group with Vancouver law firm Clark Wilson LLP, cites the Workers Compensation Act when explaining the difference between a workplace safety investigation and a criminal one. Under section 185 of the Act, for example, an officer conducting a safety inspection has the authority to seize evidence without a warrant under certain conditions, and under section 88, the officer may make any inquiry necessary to the investigation. “But once it goes from a mere inspection and into an investigation where they know they are probably going to ask Crown Counsel to lay charges,” she says, “they actually do have to follow the same process that would be used under the criminal court.” Hettiarachchi adds that the processes for both types of investigation are almost parallel. A safety inspection has more to do with ongoing training — showing companies that they should remedy certain shortcomings — whereas a criminal one is to communicate “that safety standards have to be adhered to and that employers should take notice that there will be consequences if they don’t do that.” Like Bains, Hettiarachchi also believes that the safest route might be for WorkSafeBC to begin every investigation with the possibility of criminal charges in mind. “The standard of proof of both the private and regulatory regime, as well as the criminal court, is the same,” she says. “If you know that you are going to proceed down that track, then

The safest route might be for WorkSafeBC to begin every investigation with the possibility of criminal charges in mind.

you would have to expressly follow all of the precautions and Charter rights.” NO CONSEQUENCES Bond points out that a number of entities examine workplace investigations. “Our government has a provincial inter-agency group that looks at how workplace fatalities are investigated,” she says, citing representatives from the Ministry of Justice, RCMP, municipal police agencies and WorkSafeBC. This group is currently drafting a Memorandum of Understanding that specifically defines the roles of both WorkSafeBC and the police during investigations, while considering enhanced training for both. But some say the British Columbia government’s criticism of WorkSafeBC exposes a larger, ongoing problem: employers in the province are just not facing criminal responsibility for safety negligence when it comes to workers. Jim Sinclair, president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour in Vancouver, charges that employers across many sectors in the province have avoided criminal prosecution following employee fatalities. “The government has not sent a strong enough message to the Crown that it is in the public interest that workers should not die on the job,” Sinclair says. “Criminal negligence on the part of the employer is not considered a charge, even though the Criminal Act was amended 12 years ago to include ‘criminal negligence leading to death’ charges against employers. We have yet in British Columbia to see one of those charges laid.” Regarding the Babine case, Sinclair believes that there was never any intention to file charges. “The RCMP went and investigated for less than 48 hours and left town. And that is one of the fundamental flaws in the whole system, is that when it comes to criminal charges, there is no commitment by the RCMP in almost every case,” he argues. “This highlights the lack of commitment we have to any kind of real consequences for what could, in many ways, be described as criminal behaviour.” Hettiarachchi alludes to the difficulty in bringing the criminal element into an investigation of a workplace incident. In criminal law, “you have to be able to show a wanton or a just disregard for the safety and the life of these workers,” she says. “That is a very, very high standard, whereas under the regulatory regime, you would not show that; you are working for strict liability offence.” Sinclair does not blame WorkSafeBC for what has been deemed a bungled investigation. “They did a very good report. I think they are being made a scapegoat in part in this story, and unfairly in some respects.” He adds that he anticipates the agency will be more careful when it comes to adopting the proper methods when collecting evidence in the future. DUST TO DUST Although WorkSafeBC’s efforts did not result in criminal charges, the agency concluded that Babine had the ability to prevent the explosion. Its report revealed that Babine had not taken adequate action to control the amount of flammable

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Deadly Dust Nearly two years after the Lakeland Mill explosion killed two workers and injured 22 others in Prince George, British Columbia, WorkSafeBC released its investigation report on April 14. This was the same day on which the province’s Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) announced that it would not pursue criminal charges against Lakeland Mill, which was destroyed on April 23, 2012 — just three months after the Babine explosion. The report notes that excessive combustible wood dust in the indoor air was enough to trigger an explosion. The ignition source was a defective gear reducer that caused frictional heat in the air. Other contributing factors in the disaster included the mill’s ineffective dust-control measures and insufficient maintenance procedures. “This explosion was preventable,” the WorkSafeBC report concludes. “Lakeland was ultimately responsible to ensure that its operations complied with occupational health and safety legislation.” The report charges that Lakeland spent millions of dollars upgrading the mill to increase its ability to process as many pine trees killed by beetles as possible, but did virtually nothing to combat the rising level of combustible dust inside the mill. The lack of a waste-conveyor system also increased the amount of dust generated from the wood. “All the components for a wood-dust explosion existed,” the report states.

borne dust in the mill or the large accumulation of dust on its floors and other surfaces. While the company was in the process of upgrading its undersized dust-management system, an increase in the mill’s production slowed down the project. Inadequate inspection of equipment and insufficient supervision of maintenance staff were also contributing factors. WorkSafeBC was not the only organization that investigated the Babine disaster. The BC Safety Authority (BCSA), an independent group based in New Westminster that monitors the installation and use of technical equipment for safe practices, had already conducted an investigation of the mill after a smaller explosion and fire occurred in February of 2011. As such, it was well prepared to examine the incident that took place the following year. The BCSA agreed with WorkSafeBC’s conclusion that a failure to control the dangers of combustible wood dust had caused the explosion. “As a result, we have issued three safety orders since 2012, and in January 2013, we published a Recommendations Report with nine recommendations to improve safety in the wood-processing industry,” says Stephen Hinde, the BCSA’s safety manager for alternative safety approaches and enforcement. Hinde explains that safety orders differ from WorkSafeBC’s directive orders in that the former deal with hazards relating to technical equipment. 24

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“Under Section 196 of the [provincial Workers Compensation Act], WorkSafeBC will now consider whether an administrative penalty should be imposed,” WorkSafeBC’s chief operating officer Diana Miles said in a statement after the report’s release. “Mills throughout British Columbia will continue to be the focus of ongoing inspections, to ensure that the lessons learned from these tragic events are not lost and worker safety and health remains the priority of the industry,” Miles added. The United Steelworkers (USW) union has criticized the lack of charges in both cases. Stephen Hunt, director of USW District 3 representing the four western provinces and the territories, blames both the Crown and WorkSafeBC for what he regards as a failure to pursue justice. “The whole system has failed,” says Hunt, adding that getting the CJB to press criminal charges against workplaces for safety violations has been a problem for years. Over the 12 years since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended regarding evidence in workplace fatalities, he says “there have been no successful applications of the Criminal Code with respect to a worker’s death in British Columbia, except for a private prosecution that the Steelworkers took on.” In addition to conducting mill inspections, WorkSafeBC plans to send a directive order to all sawmills in the province to implement effective dust-control programs.

“Compliance with a safety order is mandatory, and failure to do so can result in penalties.” In its own investigation report on Babine, the BCSA recommends that all wood-processing plants in the province conduct facility assessments to identify hazardous locations and either implement dust-management practices for those locations or configure the equipment for safe operation. Facilities should also include hazardous locations and methods of controlling combustion hazards in their fire-safety plans, the report advises. Sinclair posits that the real problem is that WorkSafeBC did not do its job properly before the explosion, when it was already widely known that dust accumulation in the mill was a serious hazard. “They put out an order in 2010, a blanket statement to all the industry, ‘Dust levels are dangerous, and it could lead to explosions.’” But Sinclair says WorkSafeBC wrote no orders to close down Babine or any other mill. “They only wrote an order on this place because it was affecting workers’ health in their breathing, which is one way of killing you. But they did not write the order because of the explosive problem.” TOUGH BUT FAIR Less than two months after the release of Dyble’s report, WorkSafeBC announced on April 3 that it had ordered Babine to pay an administrative penalty of $97,500 and a claims-cost levy of $914,139.62. This decision followed WorkSafeBC’s three-month inspection of all active sawmills in the province, which found that only 83 (or 58 per cent) of the 144 mills to be in compliance regarding combustible dust. The agency issued 93 orders, including 13 stop-work orders and 17 warning letters.

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In addition, the government, WorkSafeBC, the province’s forest industry and organized labour have joined forces on a 90-day action plan that includes doubling the size of WorkSafeBC’s designated inspection team and penalizing non-compliant firms. Bond reveals that the government is also taking action to educate WorkSafeBC on how to conduct proper investigations. “A number of training supports and educational seminars are under way or in planning,” she says. Recently, the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training launched a series of information meetings between WorkSafeBC and members of the sawmill industry. While Sinclair agrees with Dyble’s conclusion that there needs to be a closer working relationship between WorkSafeBC and the CJB when investigating workplace incidents and fatalities, he stresses that tougher safety enforcement on British Columbia’s employers is more important. “I think people miss, somehow, the underlying causes for why these things happened,” Sinclair suggests. “Babine, because of the attention paid to it, was an eye-opener to a much more fundamental problem in the system. It is not just about how you gather the evidence; it is what you do with it too.” Bains agrees that a stricter stance on safety is vital —

Hettiarachchi alludes to the difficulty in bringing the criminal element into an investigation of a workplace incident.

that all authorities in British Columbia need to approach workplace tragedies with the same seriousness that they would for any other tragedy. Companies need to get a clear message “that workplace deaths and injury, due to negligence of those responsible for their health and safety, will be dealt with severely.” Hefty fines or jail terms will serve as strong deterrents if they are found guilty and do justice to those who end up losing their lives or getting seriously injured, he adds. “We want to make sure that the people who go to those jobs and their families know that they are going to come home safe every day,” Bond says. “It is incumbent on all of us — whether it is WorkSafeBC, organized labour, government or industry — to ensure that we are relentless in pursuing safe workplaces.” Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Jeff Cottrill is editorial assistant of

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On March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), part of the United States Department of Transportation, announced a proposal to mandate the use of electronic logbooks in commercial motor vehicles. Apart from cutting down the paperwork associated with hours-of-service (HOS) record-keeping for interstate truck and bus drivers, the proposed rules also seek to reduce fatigue-induced crashes by making it harder for drivers to misrepresent their times. The move follows revisions to the HOS regulations — first effected in February of 2012 and officially finalized for compliance last July — meant to improve road safety and the health of truck drivers by restricting excessively long work hours. These changes have affected both the businesses north of the 49th parallel and the Canadian truck drivers who ply south of the border.

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or 13 years, Richard Bergeron has been driving a truck between Canada and the United States for Quebecbased Robert Transport. The company is just one of 20,000 carriers in Canada that operate south of the border. Bergeron, who lives in Boucherville, Quebec, estimates that he spends up to 75 per cent of his work hours in America. Approximately 120,000 to 140,000 Canadians drive commercial trucks into the States, reports Geoffery Wood, vicepresident of operations with the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) in Toronto. Changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations in the United States last year mean that Canadian truck drivers will have to pay attention to and adjust their resets accordingly. But the changes are “nothing earth-shattering,” Wood says. “The purpose of hours-of-service regulations is to ensure drivers are provided with adequate time for rest to counteract the effects of fatigue.” Since the new regulations kicked in down south last July, Canadian truckers have to observe separate HOS regulations in each country. These rules set standards on a commercial driver’s driving times, off-duty times and resets. For crossborder truckers, making that switch can be challenging. “Truck drivers, some are still confused,” Bergeron says. When the rules changed last summer, Bergeron says some truckers went to the Department of Transportation to ask questions. “The law was already in vigour, and we still weren’t sure exactly how it was working. It was complicated.” Changes to HOS regulations in the United States, which have been in the works since 2010, have taken years to finalize, partly as a result of opposition and lobbying from various groups. One major change to the rules is the requirement that truck drivers take at least 10 hours off after driving 14 hours and make at least one 30-minute rest stop if they want to continue driving beyond eight hours. The FMCSA says research has shown that such breaks alleviate fatigue and fatigue-related performance degradation. But Bergeron is not a fan of the changes. “It’s tricky,” he says, describing the mandatory 30-minute break as impractical, since taking shorter breaks of 10 or 15 minutes does not count towards that half-hour of rest. “What happens sometimes is that you miss a client by 15 minutes or 10 minutes, because you had to do that half-hour break.” Another provision in the HOS rules is the 34-hour restart. Previously, drivers in the United States were allowed to work up to 60 hours in seven days or up to 70 hours over eight days. Under the reset provision, drivers are now allowed to “restart” their hours from zero if 28

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they take 34 hours off from work, including two sleeps between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. By comparison, Canadian regulations stipulate that drivers can reset their clocks to zero after 36 off-duty hours. Drivers are also allowed more flexibility in choosing when to take time off, which Bergeron says he prefers to the United States’ 168-hour duty cycle, which limits the use of the 34-hour restart to once per week. “I can’t take the two days off when I want and still work with a fresh bout. I can’t put my weekend when I want it. I have to work with that system.” For instance, Bergeron says if he wants to finish his work week on a Friday night at 11 p.m., he cannot start up again until Sunday at 11 p.m. If he wants his full hours reset again for the following week, he cannot get on the road again until the same time at 11 p.m. even if he finishes five hours earlier. “But truck driving isn’t that. It’s about always being on time for the client,” he contends. “So sometimes, we have to leave earlier. But it makes our week a lot harder, because we always have to check, ‘What did I do eight days ago?’ That for me doesn’t make sense.” PLAY BY THE RULES If drivers make mistakes along the way, they face stiff penalties. Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offence, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offence, the FMCSA notes on its website. An issue that both Canada and the United States face is drivers falsifying hours in their logbooks. However, the introduction of electronic logbooks will make it harder for drivers to cheat. “There are actually some truck drivers out there, you wouldn’t want to know what they have driven,” Bergeron suggests. “I have seen drivers drive more than 20 hours non-stop and sleep off eight hours and continue the next day.” He claims that some employers even give bonuses to employees for cheating. Guelph-based Mark Skinner, research and development consultant at the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association in Mississauga, Ontario, says he has seen drivers “fudge” their hours. “There are smaller companies or brokers that will fudge. But the issue is that if you get caught, the consequences are serious. Especially for large companies, you are affecting your CVOR.” The Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR) is a mandatory registration for all heavy commercial motor-vehicle carriers in Ontario. The CVOR tracks a company’s accidents, speeding or other infractions, on-the-spot road inspections and a driver’s hours of service and training. A company can be charged for a violation in any one of these areas, which affects a business’ overall CVOR. Skinner cautions that since regulators have tightened the rules, it is likely that “if you lose your CVOR, you will never get one back again.” Transportation companies operating in other jurisdictions across Canada have comparable systems in place, recognized

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Keeping Up with the Times For commercial truck drivers in Canada, keeping in mind the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations can be a challenge. While each province in Canada is held to the same standard under the National Safety Code, there may be slight deviations due to provincial jurisdiction over the Highway Traffic Act that account for environmental differences. Enforcing the HOS rules is a joint responsibility among the federal, provincial and territorial governments, explains Roxane Marchand, spokesperson for Transport Canada

in Ottawa. “These hours off-duty provide the driver with opportunities to obtain rest. The regulations do not restrict a driver from obtaining additional off-duty time that he or she believes is necessary to minimize or reduce fatigue,” Marchand says. Now, Canadian truckers must observe a new set of HOS regulations when crossing the border. The chart below compares and contrasts the HOS rules that apply in Canada and the United States:

United States


Driving time

Drivers are permitted 11 hours of driving after 10 hours off.

Drivers are permitted 13 hours of driving after eight hours off, unless driving north of 60 degrees latitude.

On-duty time

No driving is allowed after 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time.

No driving is allowed after 14 on-duty hours per day or workshift after taking eight hours off, unless driving north of 60 degrees latitude.

Off-duty time

As of July of 2013, 10 consecutive off-duty hours with a 30-minute break are required, after the eighth consecutive hour of a workshift.

Immediately before driving, a driver must take at least eight hours off with a total of 10 off-duty hours per day. Within a two-week period, there must be 24 consecutive off-duty hours.

Length of work day

No driving is allowed after 14 consecutive hours.

No driving is allowed after 14 consecutive hours.

Duty cycles

A seven-day cycle allows up to 60 hours of work; an eight-day cycle allows up to 70 hours of work.

A one-week cycle allows up to 70 hours of work; a 14-day cycle allows up to 120 hours.


As of July of 2013, a 34-hour restart is permitted after two consecutive sleep periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The restart is restricted to once every 168 hours.

For one-week cycles, reset kicks in after 36 hours of off-duty time. For two-week cycles, restart sets in after 72 hours. Upon reaching the 70th hour in a two-week cycle, a driver must take 24 consecutive off-duty hours.

Source: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule and the Government of Canada Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulation.

throughout the country under the National Safety Code — minimum performance standards that apply to all people who are responsible for the safe operation of commercial vehicles. Similarly, commercial vehicle operators in the United States are issued Department of Transportation or DOT numbers. In some instances, commercial drivers can even be stripped of their licences for major accidents. Stricter enforcement may be contributing to a scarcity of drivers. “Right now, there is really a shortage of drivers in Canada and the United States, huge shortage,” says Skinner, who attributes that to both the lifestyle of truck driving and stringent regulations, which are “making it harder for a lot of drivers to hold their licence.” Since most companies will not

hire drivers younger than 21 for insurance purposes, he adds that this has also decreased the pool of prospective workers. But consensus reigns regarding the introduction of electronic logbooks, which both industry and labour representatives have embraced as a positive development. Wood says the CTA has been in discussions with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators on moving towards mandatory electronic monitoring of hours. The CTA has also issued multiple information sheets underlining the benefits of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) or electronic logging devices. Advantages include reducing driver fatigue, improving regulatory compliance, levelling the playing field among carriers and achieving cost

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THE PROBABILITY OF VEHICLE ACCIDENTS INCREASES IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS. savings from less paperwork and increased productivity. Although it is not known when the proposed rule announced by the FMCSA to make electronic logging devices mandatory on commercial motor vehicles will take effect, Wood expects Canada to follow suit with similar legislation. Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation reports that it is working with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to develop a national standard for the use of EOBRs for HOS compliance. Leo Laliberte, assistant director of Teamsters Quebec’s Freight Committee and vice-president of Local 106 in Montreal, supports the move to make EOBRs mandatory. “We like to be rigorous in the application of those hours of service for public safety and for the workers’ safety,” Laliberte says. It will also mean that all companies — big and small alike — will be required to install these devices in their fleet. “We have got some bigger companies that have those equipment, but they have to compete with some other companies that got no rules. Hours of service, it’s a logbook that they fill in by hand and sometimes, they play with it,” he suggests. However, Laliberte acknowledges that stricter enforcement of HOS rules places additional pressure on commercial drivers. “That pressure to be just on time is always on the drivers,” he says, citing last-minute delivery requests from customers, road closures and severe weather as among the stressors. “Every time they tap-dance from one regulation to the other one, they put themselves at risk to get a fine.” And that miscalculation of HOS “can cost them their entire week of work in fines.” CATCHING SHUTEYE For Laliberte, the regulations that apply in the United States are neither better nor worse than those in Canada. “We had dreams at one point of putting them all on the same level. But because the Canadian reality is so different, we are not thinking about it anymore.” Laliberte thinks that regulators south of the border are less attuned to industry needs. “For them, it is safety first — end of the story. And I’m not against that,” he says, noting that commercial drivers down south face a different operational environment from that of their counterparts north of the border. He cites northern British Columbia and parts of Quebec as examples where the drive can be very long, because of fewer truck stops where drivers can pull over. “Sometimes, you got miles and miles without anything, without any possibility even to stop. So that is a major difference.” Laliberte, who was involved in discussions between 2000 and 2003 that developed Canada’s current HOS regulations, notes that the rules were drawn up with input from industry and labour representatives, brokers and drivers to ascertain what would work best for safety, while keeping in mind the impact on industry. “I was satisfied with all the energy that everybody [brought] and all the good will that was around the table. The government did a good job,” he says. Transport Canada spokesperson Roxane Marchand in Ottawa says federal regulations addressing the maximum hours that a commercial bus and truck operator can drive were amended in 2005, after more than 10 years of review and de 30

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liberation. “During that time, the Department consulted with experts in the field of fatigue, provincial and territorial representatives and with industry to assist in the development of the amended rules.” But for Alison Smiley, president of ergonomics firm Human Factors North in Toronto, the HOS rules are not enough to ensure road safety. “I think we allow truck drivers to work a ridiculous number of hours, both in Canada and the U.S. The rest of us don’t work those hours,” contends Smiley, who has conducted extensive consultations on fatigue management for trucking companies in both countries. Smiley says much of a commercial driver’s work is done at night. “A large number of hours during the day is much, much less troubling in terms of its effect on performance.” She adds that regulators at home should adopt the requirement for drivers to get two nights’ sleep between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. after a week of work, similar to what has been done in the States. Numerous studies have shown that the probability of vehicle accidents increases in the early morning hours. One study, Sleep Related Vehicle Accidents, published in 1995 in the British Medical Journal, surveyed 679 drivers involved in sleeprelated vehicle accidents in the United Kingdom by using data from police databases or on-the-spot interviews. Findings indicated that there was a clear time-of-day effect, with the most vulnerable times being between 2 and 7 a.m. Fatigue can pose a major hazard to truck drivers. A study by the FMCSA of nearly 1,000 large truck collisions between 2001 and 2003 shows that 13 per cent of those incidents involved fatigue. Smiley says fatigue can lead to loss of alertness, inattentiveness and dozing at the wheel.

Giants on Wheels Due to the sheer size and weight of large commercial trucks, the consequences can be devastating when accidents occur. Data from Transport Canada indicate that an average of 20,300 tractor-trailers and 30,007 straight trucks under 4,536 kilograms were involved in collisions in Canada from 2006 to 2010. For single-vehicle collisions, 9,690 involved commercial vehicles, including buses, straight trucks and tractor-trailers in 2010. Of the total 38,416 commercial vehicle drivers who experienced traffic accidents in 2010, the condition of 37,707 drivers was normal, while 206 fell asleep at the wheel or were considered fatigued. By comparison, 203 of these drivers were deemed under the influence of alcohol. In 2010, 109 people were killed and 3,213 were injured by large truck crashes in Ontario. Information from the Ministry of Transportation says enforcement officers and police officers conducted more than 105,000 inspections of commercial vehicles last year in Ontario, including inspecting hoursof-service records.

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“There can be micro-sleeps where people fall asleep briefly, wandering in the lane, delayed reaction. And a very standard fatigue-related crash is a loss of control where you simply drift off the edge of the road into the ditch,” she notes, adding that many fatigue-related crashes involve only one vehicle. However, Wood points out that it can be difficult to measure the effect and prevalence of fatigue in drivers, considering the many factors involved in vehicle collisions. “I think the important statistic to look at is that even when trucks are involved in accidents, the majority of at-fault is not placed on the truck driver. It is typically the fault of other motorists operating in and around trucks.” Skinner agrees that more research needs to be done on the issue. “The police will make a judgement at the side of the road as to what they think the condition of the driver is,” he says. “We are having nonmedical, non-scientific personnel basically relying on their experience and making determinations as to what happened.” He also cites distraction as another job-related hazard. “Most trucking companies are in contact with their drivers 24 hours a day, either through satellite or through phone or other types of electronic communication.” When it comes to fatigue, there are things that drivers can do to reduce sleepiness. In one program that Smiley conducted for Transport Canada and the FMCSA, her team educated workers on how long work hours, the time of day, inadequate sleep and circadian rhythm affect performance and offered strategies on coping with work-rest schedules. Employees were also screened for sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is repeatedly disrupted due to the collapse or blockage of the airway during sleep. Sleep apnea can pose a problem for drivers, as it hampers restful sleep and can lead to chronic fatigue during waking hours. Smiley recommends proactive napping and avoiding driving between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. “In terms of rest breaks, they are not nearly as helpful as naps. Once you are tired, you really need to nap. And if you have symptoms of sleep apnea, get treated for it,” she advises. A Study of Prevalence of Sleep Apnea Among Commercial Truck Drivers, published in 2002 by the FMCSA, found that 17.6 per cent of commercial-driver’s licence holders had mild sleep apnea, 5.8 per cent had moderate sleep apnea and 4.7 per cent had severe sleep apnea. The findings were based on the results of several tests conducted on a random sample of 1,391 commercial-driver’s licence holders living within a 50mile radius of the University of Pennsylvania. The study also revealed that the prevalence of sleep apnea increased with age and the level of obesity. “There have been studies showing that people who have

sleep apnea perform similarly to people who are drunk. And that once they have been treated, they are back to a normal state,” Smiley says. TOO YOUNG Sleep apnea and fatigue can take a toll on overall health, as can the lifestyle of a truck driver. Skinner notes that research is moving away from looking at fatigue per se to examining the overall health of a driver. “Truck drivers do have a shorter lifespan, due to the fact either because of exposure to diesel fumes or just from vibrations,” Skinner says. He adds that musculoskeletal disorders are a leading source of workers’ compensation claims in the transportation sector. Laliberte notes that many of his members end up on workers’ compensation as a result of back pain, which can be attributed to long-distance driving and work-related injuries, such as those that occur when physically moving cargo onto a truck or getting down from their seats. “They are not in top shape, and they are subjected to physical injuries when they do work because they are not all that used to it.” He adds that as truck drivers are behind the wheel about 90 per cent of the time, the industry has moved away from “hand-bombing”, in which a driver loads cargo onto the truck by hand instead of using mechanical aids like skids and lifting machines. In view of the numerous occupational hazards that truck drivers face, NAL Insurance founded the trucking wellness program Healthy Trucker last year. The insurance company provides alternative workers’ compensation coverage for owner operators in the trucking industry across Canada. “One of the reasons why we are based out of an insurance company is we see the increased number of claims, the increase in the duration of claims, which increases the cost for the companies,” says Melodie Champion, a London, Ontario-based nutritionist and health coach with Healthy Trucker. She adds that truck drivers are prone to weight gain due to long hours of sitting, lack of physical activity and difficulty in finding healthy foods at truck stops along their routes. “An overweight driver does have higher risk of developing sleep apnea, which is going to cause problems with stress, sleep deprivation, which could affect their safety on the road.” She cites prescription drug claims as a result of truck drivers having a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems and sleep apnea. “One of the things that keeps coming up again and again for us is the number 61,” which is the life expectancy of a truck driver. Champion recommends drivers ask for healthy options at truck stops and try to be more physically active. “Sixty-one is way too young for any industry.” Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Carmelle Wolfson is assistant editor of

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They may be taking place a continent away, but recent developments in Europe are making hairdressing salons safer for workers. In February, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) in Bilbao, Spain released a report outlining the risks hairdressers face and the protections available to them. The report follows the signing of the European Framework Agreement by trade union UNI Europa Hair and Beauty and hairstylist association Coiffure EU in Brussels on April 26, 2012, to create an integrated safety system for hairdressers across all European Union (EU) countries. While EU-OSHA spokesperson Birgit M端ller says the drive for legislation is on hold until after the EU elections in May, can Canada take a leaf out of the book of its European counterparts by beefing up safety in the haircare industry here at home?

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sk long-time Winnipeg barber John Unger how he and others in his trade ensure workplace safety, and he will tell you that good posture means good back health. He might talk about sweeping the floor of his salon so no one slips on cut hair. He will point out that gloves reduce exposure to chemicals in cosmetics. Ask Unger if he has ever been injured on the job, and he will reply, “Of course.” In fact, “I get hurt on the job on a weekly basis.” Unger does a lot of razor work for hair shaping. Although other barbers use razors with guards, Unger finds that he can detail hair more precisely with a guard-free razor. Cuts are common — although only to his fingers, never on the client. Unger’s attitude towards workplace safety may well reflect how people in the hairdressing industry look at this matter. On one hand, stylists acknowledge dangers like cuts from implements, back pain from standing all day and dermatitis from handling hair dyes. As a result, most take safety measures, such as handling tools carefully, practising good posture and wearing protective gloves. On the other hand, certain risks are simply deemed unavoidable. While standing straight, taking breaks and wearing gloves protect stylists from certain injuries, these practices cannot shield them from a more insidious danger stemming from the hair products that hairdressers use and are exposed to every day. These substances include sericin in shampoos and conditioners, ammonium in hair-bleaching products, ethylenediamine in hair-colouring products and formaldehyde and methylene glycol in hair straighteners. Not only can these substances cause work-related asthma; some are also carcinogenic, specifically formaldehyde and methylene glycol, which can produce formaldehyde. “[These chemicals] may come from other services that are offered, such as nail services,” says Sonia Lall, occupational hygienist and health and safety specialist at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers in Toronto. Even if a hairdresser avoids using hair products with formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — an aesthetician working nearby may be painting the nails of a client with a polish containing the compound. CHEMICAL CONCERNS In Canada, approximately 100,000 people work as hairstylists, barbers, funeral directors and embalmers. Hairstylists make, on average, $20,000 to $30,000 per year. The hairdressing industry has a high rate of turnover, with many citing unfavourable working conditions that include low wages and evening and weekend work. In 2011, hairdressing schools across Canada granted certificates to 3,246 new hairstylists and aestheticians. 34

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Plenty of research has shown that stylists could contract cancer from exposure to chemicals used on the job. A study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2010, found an increased risk of bladder cancer among hairdressers, especially those who have been in the business for a decade or more. This increased risk is possibly due to inhaling chemical compounds that were used in many hair dyes prior to 1978 — compounds that are still

Making Waves It is not a trade typically associated with danger, but health and safety concerns in the hairdressing industry have prompted European authorities to extend better protections to these workers. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in Bilbao, Spain says the European Framework Agreement seeks to foster an integrated approach towards preventing risks and promoting safety in the hairdressing industry. The agreement applies to workers, including trainees and apprentices. Self-employed persons and employers are also required to comply with certain provisions of the agreement. Part I of the agreement regulates general provisions and comprises the following sections: • Skin protection (reducing and eliminating wet work and dangerous chemicals, requiring the use of gloves); • Allergy prevention (restricting dust formation and sensitizing substances); • Musculoskeletal disorder prevention (through ergonomic design of workstations and trolleys, adjustable chairs and stools, comfortable hand tools and reducing repetitive tasks); •  Work environment and work organization (working hours, work spaces, lighting, nonslip floor covering, personal hygiene and general and exhaust ventilation); • Maternity protection (adapting tasks, consulting physicians); and • Mental health and well-being. Part II of the agreement details the individual and collective protective measures applicable to the sector. Individual measures include wearing shoes with non-slip soles, not leaving aqueous solutions containing irritating substances or preparations to dry on the skin and not drying hands with customers’ towels to prevent involuntary contact with hairdressing chemicals. Collective measures require workers not to eat or smoke in the workplace and employers to provide protective gloves and ensure that tools are cleaned and disinfected systematically.

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present in some modern dyes. One suspect product is 4-aminophenyl, which does not appear on Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist of substances that are banned or restricted for cosmetics. One study links fetal development problems with hairdressing. Published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology in 2010, the paper cites evidence indicating that female hairdressers are at risk of giving birth to malformed babies. The results were inconclusive, but the study says fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers cannot be excluded. “Although the evidence for these risks is low, further studies on reproductive risks in hairdressers should be performed, as there is a high public health interest,” the study notes. Lall recommends that hair establishments beef up their ventilation systems to combat the risk of workrelated asthma. “It is very important that salons have ventilation and exhaust systems that pull the fumes out of the hairstylists’ work zones.” But that is not enough. “It is one thing to put the ventilation system in, but if you don’t look at it after two or three years, it is as good as nothing,” Lall cautions. “Having a proper maintenance schedule for the ventilation system is also extremely important and often forgotten.” Stylists, however, question the validity of the cancer concern. Unger, for one, says it seems as if anything anyone does these days involves the risk of cancer. “It is really hard to be definitive about how dangerous certain things are.” Zoe Pearson, a lead lecturer at Concepts Career College in Halifax, agrees. “Anytime you are working with chemicals, you have to be careful, but I wouldn’t say it is a high priority.” BRAZILIAN BLOWOUT FALLOUT Even if cancer fears are indeed overblown, hair and cosmetic products can pose significant health hazards. Consider Brazilian Blowout, a hair-straightening treatment that came on the market a few years ago. Soon after it became popular, hairstylists and health regulators started expressing concerns about it. In 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C. issued a warning, following a complaint by a hairstylist in Oregon who suffered nosebleeds, eye irritation and breathing trouble while using the product. In 2010, Health Canada found that although Brazilian Blowout was advertised as “formaldehyde-free”, the product actually contained 8.4 per cent formaldehyde — well above the permitted level of 0.2 per cent. That year, Health Canada banned Brazilian Blowout and, in 2011, banned similar products containing high formaldehyde levels, such as Brazilian Keratin Treatment (1.8 per cent), Global Keratin Taming System with Juvexin Strawberry Resistant (4.4 per cent)

and Brazilian Thermal Reconstruction (seven per cent). Although Canada has laws that protect consumers from hazardous substances like formaldehyde, those laws do not apply consistently to the products that hairdressers use regularly. For one thing, cosmetics, including hair dyes, curling solutions and straighteners are exempt from the Hazardous Products Act (HPA). As such, cosmetics manufacturers do not have to provide material safety-data sheets (MSDSs) with their products. This exemption sets cosmetics apart from other products containing dangerous ingredients. For products that fall under the HPA, MSDSs detail important safety information, such as how to handle, store and clean hazardous substances. Does that mean hairstylists lack information they need to work safely? Not necessarily. Michael Levine, owner of the Vancouver Hair Academy and several salons in British Columbia, and Gordon Greenwood, a lawyer with Maclaren Corlett LLP in Ottawa and corporate counsel for the Allied Beauty Association representing cosmetics manufacturers and distributors across Canada, both point out that cosmetics come with detailed instructions for proper use. If they follow those directions, hairdressers should be fine. And even if MSDSs were mandatory for cosmetics, it is debatable how much that would help, considering that the problem with Brazilian Blowout had to do with the product’s composition, not the amount of information available. Although cosmetics are exempt from the HPA, other regulations ensure that the products are safe to use, says Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr, spokesperson for Health Canada in Ottawa. “Under Canada’s Food and Drugs Act, cosmetics are specifically subject to the Cosmetic Regulations, which is one of the most stringent regulatory frameworks for cosmetic products in the world. All cosmetics sold to consumers in Canada must meet the requirements of the Cosmetic Regulations and all other applicable legislation.” Gadbois-St-Cyr adds that Canadian law prohibits the industry from selling any cosmetic containing a substance that may cause injury under normal conditions of use, regardless of whether it is available for use by the public or in salons. “Since 2006, manufacturers or importers are also required to disclose all ingredients on the product

“I get hurt on the job on a weekly basis.”

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Stylists could contract cancer from exposure to chemicals.

label, using the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) name,” she says. The INCI is a comprehensive listing of more than 17,000 ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products. The list is maintained by the Personal Care Products Council in Washington, D.C. and referenced by regulation for product labelling in many countries. “This requirement allows the consumer and the salon worker to check for ingredients that they may have concerns about and to make more informed decisions regarding product purchase and use,” Gadbois-StCyr says.

BEAUTY POTIONS Levine stresses that stylists need to exercise caution when it comes to chemicals. “The problem with my industry is, there is a lot of misinformation and people don’t question what they are taught,” Levine says. For instance, if a stylist learns to mix chemicals a certain way early on in training, the stylist may continue with that practice throughout his or her career, even when using products from different manufacturers that have different formulations. At Vancouver Hair Academy, prospective hairstylists are taught to mix substances according to the manufacturer’s instructions as indicated on the product packaging. That way, the students know they are using the right method for the specific product. “That is going to mitigate the risk,” Levine says. But instructions and training are not hairstylists’ only protections. Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist serves as a second line of defence. Manufacturers are required to adhere to the rules for each item on the hotlist, or their products may be prohibited from sale. Consider p-phenylenediamine (PPD), a compound used in hair dyes. A study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyons, France notes that PPD can cause dermatitis. The hotlist requires any hair-dye manufacturer using PPD in a product to include on its package a warning cautioning that the product contains ingredients that may cause skin irritation in certain individuals. The warning should indicate that anyone using the product should conduct a preliminary skin test as per accompanying instructions, and that the product


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must not be used for dying eyelashes or eyebrows, because doing so may cause blindness. Greenwood says the hotlist deters cosmetics makers from acting irresponsibly with hazardous substances. “We have got to get around the notion that industry is bad and is using toxic chemicals,” he says. “The manufacturers and distributors of the products that are used in salons sell to the stylists. It does companies no good to injure them.” PROPER POSTURE Apart from potential exposure to harmful agents in haircare products, stylists also risk contracting dermatitis if they do not wear gloves while applying hair dyes and other chemicals or if they let their hands stay wet for too long after providing shampoo service. This inflammation of the skin usually starts on the hands, but it can spread. “If you become sensitized to an agent,” Lall says, “you could have inflammation anywhere on the body. It doesn’t only happen where you have touched the agent.” None of these concerns is new to hairdressers. “A lot of hairstylists here in Nova Scotia don’t always wear gloves for colouring,” observes Pearson, who tries to instill safer work habits in her students at Concepts Career College. She does not understand why an experienced hairdresser would eschew gloves, given the hazards on the job. “I think it is quite bizarre. Coming from England, we had strict procedures regarding the need for gloves. But here, for some reason, we have salons where people don’t always wear them,” Pearson says. Gloves are mandatory at Suki’s, a salon and spa company in Vancouver. Bill Moreland, the company’s director of marketing and operations, points out that musculoskeletal disorders are a more prevalent concern than dermatitis for his stylists. “I think the most common injuries we see are those of repetitive motion — carpal tunnel syndrome. Especially with a round brush and blow dryer, you have a very repetitive motion,” he says. Stylists are encouraged to take breaks to avoid repetitive strains. Other hazards in a hair salon include slips and falls. “The floors tend to be hard, and they can become slick with either water or styling products, especially if the products have silicone in them, and many of them do,” says Moreland, who recommends keeping salons as clean as possible. While stylists move their bodies around clients on whom they are working, they should also keep good posture in mind. “That is one of the things I am crazy about,” Levine says. He teaches stylists to do what he does: keep a straight back and use the knees to lower the body, rather than bending at the waist. So far, in his 16-year career, he has had no back troubles, but he knows many veteran cutters who did

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not learn the importance of good posture when they started and now suffer from chronic back pain. WHEN, NOT IF Good and safe practices aside, mishaps in salons do occur. When the injuries are serious, stylists in some provinces can file claims with workers’ compensation boards. But the practice of claiming injury benefits is far from consistent across Canada, and the protection afforded to those who sustain job-related health problems or injuries is patchy at best. Workers’ compensation boards in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island collect premiums from salons to cover their employees, so hairstylists who file claims in those provinces may receive injury benefits. But this practice is not applicable in Manitoba and Ontario, where the workers’ compensation systems are voluntary for salon operators. As most salons in these two provinces are not covered by workers’ compensation, many hairstylists cannot count on receiving benefits if they injure themselves while at work. Self-employed stylists in most provinces also have to opt in to receive coverage. Insurance can be expensive for hairstylists, especially in provinces that do not provide automatic coverage. In Ontario, premiums cost $3.26 per $100 of assessable payroll, compared to British Columbia’s 50 cents per $100 of assessable payroll.

Unger chose not to be covered under Manitoba’s workers’ compensation system, as premiums are high. “The other issue is the nature of the illnesses that we encounter on the job. In most cases, they are very minor in comparison to the injuries you see in the trades,” he adds, citing carpentry and other construction jobs in which workers’ compensation is deemed crucial due to the dangers of the work involved. In the hairdressing trade, “you don’t see people chopping off a finger.” Pearson thinks that Canada should adopt measures along the lines of what Europe has done. “I don’t think the health and safety is as strict as it should be,” she says of hairdressing practices in Canada. Levine, however, is not sure if the EU-wide system that mitigates the occupational risks of hairstyling would fly in Canada. Perhaps regulation of the schools and the provincial bodies might help, he suggests. In the meantime, stylists here at home are taking things in their stride and doing what they can to stay safe while at work: exercising caution while using chemicals, educating new stylists on the importance of wearing personal protective gear like gloves, maintaining good posture and keeping the floor clean. For many, common sense offers the best protection. “They know the consequences if they don’t,” Moreland says. Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Katrina Reilly is a writer in Ottawa.

The Right Moves Hairdressers risk developing a number of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from the way they work and the implements they use. “Extended working hours, especially under intense conditions, and absence of rest periods aggravate the above symptoms,” says a report, published in February by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EUOSHA) in Bilbao, Spain. Standing still for long periods not only causes back pain, but also introduces long-term problems. David Antle, research director at ergonomics consulting firm EWI Works in Edmonton, studies the ways in which people interact with their work environments. In his Ph.D. dissertation at McGill University, which looked at back problems among workers like hairdressers who stand a lot, he found that most people experienced lower back pain and stiffness after standing for just 25 minutes. This, in turn, could trigger long-term effects, numbing the back and preventing people from making the adjustments that help guard against back injury over time. “When we work with people who have back pain or limb pain from standing in one place for too long, we propose to put tools and other things farther away to encourage

walking,” Antle says. “You don’t necessarily have to take breaks or two-minute walks. You can organize your workstation to promote movement throughout your workday.” Variation of job tasks certainly helps. The EU-OSHA says hairdressers should perform different tasks, such as shampooing, cutting and sweeping throughout the day to avoid muscle overuse. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common injuries for hairdressers. In 2013, WorkSafeBC accepted 75 claims from salon workers for short- and long-term disability. Strains, tendinitis, fractures and back problems were typical, although the organization also accepted claims for dermatitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and respiratory inflammation. Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board saw 82 claims from hairstylists and barbers last year, mostly for cuts and lacerations (27 per cent) and sprains, strains and tears (21 per cent). The Workers’ Compensation Board of Saskatchewan accepted 16 claims. Strains, tears and tendonitis were most common, followed by cuts and lacerations. The Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island accepted just one claim in 2013 for a laceration, but the board had accepted claims for repetitive strains in previous years.

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Testing Air By Jason Contant


or each of life’s big decisions — a car, a house — there is always the question of buying versus renting. On a much smaller scale, employers who require their workers to use gas detectors also have this option to consider. As with any major purchase, employers should carefully weigh the pros and cons, based on the requirements of their industries and specific workplace needs. Each option comes with a variety of upfront and unanticipated costs, depending on the length of use, maintenance needs and calibration requirements, among other factors. “A common error that people make when making this decision is that they consider the upfront costs while ignoring the long-term, unforeseen costs — the portion of the iceberg that is hiding underneath the surface,” says Jason Wright, national account manager (rental) with Industrial Scientific Corporation in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. “Along with the initial cost of purchasing gas detectors are several other factors that are often not considered related to ownership.” Depending on whether an employer chooses to purchase a disposable gas detector, expand the fleet or use a third party to perform maintenance on additional detectors, the following may apply: taxes; disposal fees; labour costs (bump tests, calibrations and sensor replacements for portable monitors); training costs for servicing instruments; costs of purchasing parts; freight charges; and storage costs. KNOW THE HAZARD Before an employer even decides whether to buy or rent, he or she needs to know what gases are present in the workplace. This knowledge will help determine if fixed or portable detection, or both, is most suited for the job.

“You need to know what you are looking for before you pick a gas detector, because they offer a variety of sensors,” advises Ross Humphry, general manager of Canadian Safety Equipment Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario. He cites instrumentation devices that detect gas using infrared light, photo-ionization detectors and chemical sensors as options. Photo-ionization detectors are useful for monitoring volatile organic compounds, while infrared sensors are wellsuited for gases like butane and propane, notes information from International Sensor Technology in Irvine, California. Other sensors may best serve specific industries, such as those that detect sulWhile cost is phur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide for the mining sector. a key factor, it Gas detectors can be grouped into two types: fixed and portable. Although is not the only the number and combination of gases that can be monitored are extensive, consideration. the standard portable gas monitor measures hydrogen sulphide (H2S), oxygen (O2), carbon monoxide (CO) and combustible gases, which are typically displayed as the lower explosive limit. “People say, ‘I want to be able to measure different gases,’ but there is still essentially the basic four,” says Manish Gupta, market manager with Draeger Safety Canada Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario. Humphry stresses the importance of knowing the hazards present in a work environment. “If you were going to go into a confined space that had gasoline and you were using a normal, municipal-calibrated four-gas detector — which would be combustible gases, oxygen, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide — you have no protection from gasoline.”

SAME, NOT EQUAL Although renting gas detection equipment can be a cost-effective and efficient way to keep workers safe, not all rental programs are created equal. “Not all gas-detector rental programs offer the same benefits,” says Jason Wright, national account manager (rental) with Industrial Scientific Corporation in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. “Be sure to scope out the project and ask the right questions.” He advises employers looking to rent gas detectors to consider the following: • Rental periods: Some rental companies start the clock the day the equipment leaves their facilities, while others start on the day the client receives the unit. Similarly, the end date could be either when the equipment leaves the workplace or when the rental company gets back the unit. • Accessories: If the monitor has a rechargeable battery, request that the charger be included. If the detector has a


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sampling pump, determine if the sample tubing and filter are included. As well, ask the rental company about accessories that may make the job easier. • Failed sensors: Some rental companies make up the internal expenses of maintaining their rental fleets by charging customers for sensors that fail while in use, even if the sensors fail due to normal use. • Freight costs: If the equipment is being shipped to the job site, find out how the freight will be charged. Some rental companies may issue pre-paid return labels with orders, so that customers do not pay return freight charges. • Pre-calibration and servicing: Request calibration certificates be provided with each rental unit. Are the rental units serviced by factory-trained technicians? Will the cost of the rental cover normal wear and tear?

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RENT OR BUY who do not want the “capital” cost associated with ownership. Once the hazard has been identified and the type of gas deAnother expense that can be overlooked is that of calibratector has been selected, the decision comes back to renting tion gas. Jung points out that the cost of calibration can be or buying — at least for portable instruments. John Raimon- heavily weighted on how much gas is being used daily to perdi, product marketing manager at MSA in Cranberry Town- form bump testing and calibrations. Raimondi calls gas-caliship, Pennsylvania, says it depends on the situation. bration expenses the “hidden cost” of owning a gas detector. “There are situations where a contractor who may not Raimondi estimates that the cost of calibration gas with an have a detection program going on a short-term contract or instrument that flows calibration gas at half a litre per minshort-term job may find it more advantageous to rent,” Rai- ute with slower sensors ranges between $1,500 and $2,000. mondi says. “There are some end users “When you factor in the speed at who lease for extended periods, which which our sensors respond and the may not be the best thing for a longfact that we only flow calibration term situation.” gas at a quarter of a litre a minPaul Jung, MSA’s product line managute, you have taken that equation er, agrees, noting that “maintaining your and made that calibration gas cost own fleet comes with a significant cost now maybe a factor of one — one savings” for many companies. time the cost of the instrument.” Wright notes that renting may come But for an employer who has 200 in handy for turnarounds, which are or 250 instruments, “that is easily planned, periodic shutdowns a quarter to a half-million dollars — total or partial — of a reor more over the life of that fleet.” finery process unit or a plant Gupta agrees, adding that Draeto perform maintenance, overger’s X-dock test and calibration haul and repair operations and station uses nearly one-tenth of the Some gas detectors are to inspect, test and replace progas compared to the amount used suited for use in the oil cess materials and equipment. by the older systems. and gas industry (top and Renting a unit, which could be left). Test and calibration ROUGH AND TUMBLE daily, weekly, monthly or even systems perform automatic While cost is a key factor, it is not annually, may also be useful for tests with reduced gas the only consideration. Some inoutages, special projects, exconsumption (bottom). dustries require units that are duperiments or tests, emergencies rable and designed for use in harsh and contract work. work environments. Humphry says his company “In the oil and gas sector, does rent out detectors for conthey are going to get mucked up,” fined space applications in the Humphry says of gas detectors. municipal or construction secJung says the oil, gas and pettors, although that service is rochemical (OGP) market reprerarely used. “Occasionally, we will sents a “significant fraction of the loan a customer one while waitindustrial customer landscape” ing for his new one to show up, but for MSA’s portable gas detection there are some things you just don’t products. He adds that OGP workers, esrent. You can buy an H2S single gas detector for like $300. Why would pecially in the upstream sector, can be very rough you rent a $300 instrument?” on their equipment. “We make sure we design our products For the oil and gas industry, Gupta points out that renting with appropriate protection. So if they get jostled or dropped just does not make sense, unless it is for a short-term proj- or thrown or dunked in water for that matter, they are rugect. “In oil and gas, they are using their gas monitors every ged enough to take that kind of abuse, survive and still prosingle day, so it makes a lot more sense to purchase their vide protection.” own units and do their own maintenance.” To handle the demands of the industry, Raimondi says Raimondi says where a lot of the challenges and big dol- MSA’s Altair line of products was designed with a 20-foot lars add up is whenever they get into the longer-term rentals, drop test in mind, because the weak point in the instrument citing one- to four-year lease agreements as examples. “If you is not the instrument itself, but its combustible sensor. are a contractor and you have a short-term job — you have a Some manufacturers even place a hydroscopic sheet over few weeks’ turnaround, you are on site — it may make some the sensor. “So even if someone does splash it with oil or wasense,” he explains. That being said, the ownership option is ter or whatever, you can wash it off and it is fine to use, and it more favourable to contractors who do a lot of turnarounds would not penetrate through to the sensor,” Gupta says. and put workers out on a regular basis. Gupta estimates that the cost of renting a gas detection BUMP IT UP unit for two to three months could run up to about the same One major improvement in the gas detection market involves as buying a new one. Nevertheless, some customers still prefer sensor technology. For the past six years or so, Raimondi says to rent. He cites clients who will send a unit back to the manu- sensors have gotten to the point at which they can react more facturer for regular maintenance to eliminate some costs or quickly or are more sensitive to a particular gas. He cites the

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ago,” it was a chore to educate a large workforce on how to calibrate a gas detector effectively and perform a bump test manually. “That part of the equation has become a lot easier with technology,” he says, pointing to the company’s Galaxy GX2 automated test system with Link Pro software. The system’s test stand is based on a stop-light system. “The cylinder holder will tell you — based on whether the band over the cylinder is green, yellow or red — if the calibration gas is about to expire or getting low or is already low.” SMART AND SIMPLE Overall, Humphry observes that gas detector technology is becoming pretty sophisticated. He cites smaller devices, interchangeable sensors and sensors that are easy to remove and replace. “You can get some really sophisticated gas detectors and what they will do technology-wise, but they still perform the same basic function, which is to alarm and let you know that there is a problem and to data-log it, so you can go back and check afterwards.” Simpler, more automated devices seem to be the way of the future. Gupta observes that workers, especially those on oil rigs, are starting to appreciate gas monitors. “They realize they need to respect this piece of equipment, because this piece of equipment is going to protect me and save my life.” Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Jason Contant is editor of safety news.

canadian occupational health and


American Conference of Industrial Hygienists’ 2010 guideline for H2S monitoring, which lowered its recommended exposure limits from an eight-hour time-weighted average of 10 parts per million (ppm) to one ppm. Raimondi points to MSA’s XCell sensor line, designed with an onboard application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip on each sensor. “That really enables some of that low concentration work, some of the speedier sensor response and less gas use in calibration and maintenance,” he says. Ease-of-use is another recent advancement in instrumentation devices. Gupta says his company’s X-dock products allow for gas-detection data monitoring from one central source. For example, a firm with operations in Ontario and Manitoba can ensure that workers in both provinces are performing bump tests and calibrations. Gupta reports that Draeger now sells monitors requiring a bump test every 30 days; otherwise, the device will render itself inoperable. High-powered batteries are also gaining traction in industries like oil and gas, in which a standard eight-hour shift is not the norm. “They are saying they need the battery twice as long, because it just dies after eight or ten hours,” he notes. “That is one of the newest things we are seeing: the device will last as long as they work.” For Jung, ease-of-use is paramount. “Having to think less of the care, maintenance, having a more worry-free gas detection program available to them,” he says, “that is the holistic view that a lot of customers are taking a look at.” Raimondi notes that “a couple of instrument generations


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Letter or Spirit of the Law By Jeff Cottrill


he Ontario government has said no to extending the healthcare benefits of migrant workers under extraordinary circumstances in a case involving two Jamaican workers who were seriously injured in a van accident in 2012. On April 1, the Divisional Court ruled that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) did not have any obligation to continue supporting Denville Clarke and Kenroy Williams beyond December 15, 2012 — the date their health coverage had originally been scheduled to expire. This decision undermined those of the Health Services Appeal and Review Board (HSARB), which had ruled in favour of the workers twice. Nine Jamaican workers were riding in their employer’s van towards a farm in Oakland, Ontario on August 9, 2012, when an oncoming car caused the van to swerve and roll over. The accident killed one passenger and injured the others, including Clarke and Williams. After the provincial government denied the workers’ requests for an extension, the HSARB ruled last August that extreme circumstances like medical emergencies warranted extended coverage. The Board renewed this decision in October, after the government’s first appeal. Clarke and Williams were represented by Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario (IAVGO), a community legal clinic in Toronto. Jessica Ponting, a lawyer with IAVGO, says it is not clear what happened to the other six injured passengers, because they were all repatriated. “Migrant workers, especially, are incredibly disposable.” Ponting adds that the court process has compelled Clarke and Williams to defend their right to healthcare. “If they are a migrant worker that got injured here, they should be able to have the choice and the means to stay here for healthcare.”

PRECARIOUS STATUS One of the government’s positions is that the workers were not entitled to extended coverage, because they did not have valid work permits. But they were working under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), and IAVGO counters that immigration status does not matter in such government programs. “There are important policy questions,” says IAVGO staff lawyer Maryth Yachnin, who represented Clarke and Williams in court. While Yachnin thinks that the decision relates specifically to workers under the SAWP, she says it points to a larger issue of how the system supports migrant workers who have sustained injuries at work and need healthcare beyond the expiry dates of their work permits. Yachnin’s legal team argued that OHIP support and entitlement were reasonable requests for SAWP workers and that the HSARB’s decisions had “found that that part of the law was trying to provide coverage to SAWP workers, regardless of whether or not they had a valid work permit,” Yachnin says.

But the Divisional Court concluded that workers needed immigration status to be eligible for coverage. “So it was looking at a technical legal question about how you read a law.” Sharaf Sultan, an employment and immigration lawyer and partner with Chiarotto Sultan LLP in Toronto, says the Divisional Court’s decision has “highlighted a fact that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with.” The problem arises when temporary foreign workers who do not fully recover from their work-related injuries revert to becoming “visitors” to Canada or having no status. “Under both circumstances, you are not entitled to OHIP,” notes Sultan, unless a worker becomes a citizen or permanent resident. This risk has increased due to the recent expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from about 60,000 people that come to Canada for work per year to more than 200,000. “What do we do when a temporary foreign worker is injured and it does not fit nicely within the window “Migrant of the work permit, either at the time workers, of injury or the recovery?” Sultan asks. “There are many temporary foreign especially, workers that are vulnerable that would face the same problem.” are incredibly Sultan thinks that the latest verdict is a strict interpretation of the law. disposable.” “There would have been a greater implication had the workers continued to be eligible for OHIP,” because that would mean workers who normally would not qualify for healthcare coverage could get it under certain circumstances. For Yachnin, the implications are more political than legal. “The court recognized there is a gap here for SAWP workers,” she points out, “but there are also gaps for other temporary foreign workers who might get stuck here after an emergency medical situation, and the government should take steps to fill that gap.” She cites other IAVGO cases in which migrant workers have received poor treatment in comparison to that afforded to Canadian citizens. “The laws just don’t meet up with the reality of what migrant workers are facing.” Justicia for Migrant Workers, a Toronto-based volunteer collective that advocates social protections for all migrant workers, also intervened to help the two men stay in Ontario for medical treatment. “The Ontario government claims to be ‘inclusive’ and ‘fair’, yet there is nothing inclusive or fair about this appeal,” activist Chris Ramsaroop said in a statement from Justicia for Migrant Workers on March 24. Ponting thinks that this right should exist beyond the limits of geographical residence. “Agriculture is a dangerous job, so certainly being able to provide that healthcare is key.” Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Jeff Cottrill is editorial assistant of

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Heart of the Matter By Carmelle Wolfson


ritish Columbia has proposed an amendment to the Workers Compensation Act that would restore heart disease to the list of presumptive diseases for firefighters. The bill, announced on March 10, has passed its third reading and will come into effect after receiving royal assent. The legislation will mean that if a full-time, part-time or volunteer local government firefighter or forest firefighter in British Columbia suffers from heart disease or heart injury, including a heart attack, it will be presumed occupation-related unless proven otherwise. This will apply to all firefighters who are claimants at the time of or after the date of disablement, but will not be applied retroactively to impairments that occur before the legislation is enacted. Depending on the situation, compensation may include wage-loss benefits, healthcare services and/or vocational rehabilitation services, notes information from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. There are no exclusions for lifestyle factors, such as smoking. There is also no requirement that the worker be employed as a firefighter for a minimum period to qualify for the presumption.

ADDED PROTECTION Mike Hurley, president of the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association (BCPFA) in Burnaby, notes that prior to the presumption’s removal, an average of six claims was accepted each year in British Columbia. The number has dropped to about one per year since the presumptive clause was removed. “If you don’t have a presumption, the onus is on the employee to prove that the heart injury was caused by their job. Now, with the presumption, the onus is on the employer to prove that injury was not caused by the job,” Hurley says. “Many of those cases were just abandoned, because the members who had heart problems did not want to go through the stress of fighting WCB at a time in their life when they were just worried about actually saving their lives,” Hurley adds in reference to firefighters who had previously made workers’ compensation claims for heart problems. The ministry says it is committed to protecting firefighters from workplace hazards. “Our government appreciates the vitally important work that firefighters do for the people of our province,” Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, says in a statement. “Firefighters expose themselves to significant hazards, and we want to provide further protection for these men and women who help to keep our communities safe by recognizing heart disease and heart injury as presumptive diseases.” When working on the proposed amendment to the Workers Compensation Act, legislators took into consideration consultations with the BCPFA and recent research providing 42

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evidence that firefighting increases the risk of heart problems. According to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, WorkSafeBC removed heart disease as a presumptive disease in 2000 to develop a new policy on how heart injury would be recognized for firefighters. Hurley points out that the NDP government’s decision to eliminate the presumption was to give WorkSafeBC time to conduct a study into the matter. “In our minds, the study should have been done before it was removed, which would be the normal way to carry out business,” he says. HEIGHTENED RISKS The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) study on cardiovascular disease among firefighters in the province, funded by WorkSafeBC, was published in 2011. The findings indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among firefighters employed for 20 to 29 years in a “With the fire brigade, but little or no excess risk among firefighters employed for 30 or presumption, more years. The increased risk among firethe onus is on fighters was strongest for acute coronary disease — a category consisting the employer primarily of acute myocardial infarction. “Firefighters are exposed to hazto prove that ards that could potentially increase risk of cardiovascular disease, injury was not their including carbon monoxide, airborne particulates, noise and physical caused by stressors,” the study notes. Study co-author Dr. Mieke Koethe job.” hoorn, Ph.D., professor and chair in gender, work and health with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research at UBC in Vancouver, says factors outside of work also contribute to heightened risk. They include tobacco use, physical inactivity, diabetes, hypertension and a family history of heart disease. “Compared to the general working population, firefighters reported much higher levels of physical activity. Finally, firefighters were more likely to report hypertension, but less likely to report diabetes compared to the general working population,” Dr. Koehoorn says. In terms of known non-occupational cardiovascular-disease risk factors, firefighters are a healthy cohort of workers compared to the general working population. Dr. Koehoorn says other research done on this issue comparing firefighters to the general population has significant limitations, “as their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the general working population in previous studies has been lower as a result of their healthy status.” The study cites noise exposure as an additional stress for firefighters. “In general, noise is considered more of a cumulative physical stressor rather than an acute, startling stress-

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Before the provincial government in British Columbia announced plans to reintroduce heart disease as a presumptive disease for firefighters on March 10, Alberta and Manitoba already had similar legislation in place to address cardiovascular stress in the firefighting profession. In 2005, Manitoba enacted legislation that presumes heart injuries within 24 hours of an emergency response to be work-related. In Alberta, where post-traumatic stress disorder is considered presumptive for first responders, the Workers’ Compensation Act states that if a full-time or part-time firefighter suffers a myocardial infarction within 24 hours after attending an emergency response, that condition will be presumed to have arisen out of employment unless proven otherwise. By comparison, British Columbia recognizes heart disease in addition to heart attacks in its legislation. Heart disease is not the only illness associated with firefighting. Several provinces have already acknowledged that firefighters are at increased risk of cancer. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Workplace Health, Safety

or,” Dr. Koehoorn notes. She points to a study by Dr. Hugh Davies, who theorizes that the nervous system responds to repeated noise exposure, leading to increased blood pressure and over-secretion of cortisol as a result of this stress. This could then lead to hypertension and insulin resistance. PREVENTION FIRST Dr. Lowell Gerber, medical doctor with Freeport Cardiology in Freeport, Maine, claims that firefighters are no different from the general population. Dr. Gerber led a pilot study to assess the metabolic stress levels of firefighters in Freeport. “What I found is that the firefighters are a representation of the society in general as far as being overweight, having high blood pressure.” He adds that firefighters had problems with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, pre-hypertension, fats in their blood, hormonal issues, low testosterone and low thyroid. “So all these things together is what we see happening; we have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the population in general, and they are no exception to that.” Dr. Gerber screened firefighters for pre-diabetes, diabetes and hormonal issues, in combination with physical stresstests, in which participants were hooked up to an electrocardiogram while running on a treadmill. Firefighters were also tested using the Microvalt T-Wave Alternans — a device that uses a periodic beat-to-beat variation in the amplitude or shape of the T-wave in an electrocardiogram — which Dr. Gerber says assesses the risk of sudden cardiac death. “They did pretty good on the treadmill, but when you looked at their oxygen consumption per body weight, it was low. So although they were strong, their cardiopulmonary fitness was below par,” says Dr. Gerber, adding that he initiated the program after a young firefighter died while exercising at the station. With the metabolic stress data, he suggests that an individualized health program that includes counselling on proper diet and exercise can be created for firefighters. Recent research shows that firefighters who die of car

and Compensation Commission released a report in February recommending that cancers such as brain, bladder, kidney and testicular cancer be considered presumptive for career firefighters. In British Columbia, lung, brain, bladder, ureter, colorectal, kidney, testicular and esophageal cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia are considered presumptive diseases for firefighters. In Ontario, eight cancers are already included in the list of presumptive diseases. On April 30, the province announced plans to recognize six more cancers as presumptive diseases. Paul Atkinson, workers’ advocate with the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association, acknowledges that getting Ontario’s labour ministry to recognize those cancers — multiple myeloma, prostate, testicular, skin, breast and lung — has taken a long time. “Once we get the six cancers regulated and compensated, then we will be moving forward and saying, ‘Now we need to work on other issues to resolve.’ And one of them will clearly be the coronary artery disease,” he says.

diovascular problems are most often doing physical activity when they experience the attack. A study from the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in St. Cloud, Minnesota, presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting on April 26, found that 146 out of 199 cardiovascular events (73 per cent) occurred after vigorous activity lasting an average of 33 minutes. Amna Zarar, study author and a researcher at the institute, says fire departments need to be prepared to recognize these events and conduct screenings for those who may be at higher risk. Dr. Gerber agrees. “If they are a firefighter — we know they are in a very high-risk occupation — we should be providing the services to keep them healthier,” he says. “In the United States, much of our preventive medicine, it is really not preventative at all — it is early detection. And by the time you can detect the disease, you can’t prevent it anymore and it is difficult to reverse it.” Firefighters elsewhere in Canada are also pleased with the development in British Columbia. “It is a very positive step in the right direction,” says Paul Atkinson, a workers’ advocate with the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association. He says the development is supported by scientific evidence showing that firefighters have a higher propensity for coronary artery disease than the general public. In Ontario, he notes that only one out of nearly 300 workers’ compensation claims for coronary artery disease has been successful. That said, Atkinson doubts that the changes in British Columbia will have any ripple effect in Ontario, where the workers’ compensation board maintains that scientific evidence on heart disease is inconsistent. “In the world of science, inconsistent means that there is some science supporting it and there is some science that does not support it.” But Atkinson argues that science is never precise, “and presumptive legislation is really science with common sense added.” Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

Carmelle Wolfson is assistant editor of

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Safeguarding Green Hands FIRST BLOOM: For many young workers — usually defined as those under the age of 25 — earning their keep is a novel and empowering experience. Financial independence aside, the work experience gained is another pull factor that entices many young people to seek employment. But the ardour of youth and the eagerness to learn can put these young employees in vulnerable positions. Their limited experience, coupled with the possibility that they may not receive proper safety training if they are on the job for only a short period of time, enhances their risks at work. The Institute for Work and Health (IWH) in Toronto notes that workers are five to seven times more likely to be injured in the first month on the job.

USUAL SUSPECTS: Since young workers are often students entering the workforce for the first time, they are typically employed in seasonal, short-term, temporary, casual and part-time jobs. The industries in which young workers are often found include the service sector in retail and sales, food services, grocery stores and small businesses. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Hamilton, Ontario adds to that work in offices, landscaping, tree planting, construction and painting as positions that youths commonly hold.

TELLING NUMBERS: When it comes to workplace injuries, the risk for young people is as much as twice that of adults when one takes into account that youths tend to work fewer hours than adults do. “Although they work 10 per cent of the hours of all workers, they injure themselves at a rate of 16 per cent,” says the CCOHS, citing a 2008 study from Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et en Sécurité du Travail in Quebec. Each year, more than 48,000 young workers are injured seriously enough to require time off work. DANGER AHEAD: Young workers may be more prone to specific types of injuries. A study on lost-time claims by WorkSafeBC in Richmond, British Columbia shows that young people face a higher risk of open-wound injuries like scrapes, cuts, lacerations and burns. The following lists the top seven dangers young workers in the province face each year: 1. Lifting objects: Overexertion causing sprains, strains and tears accounts for about 950 young worker injuries in British Columbia among retail and grocery clerks, labourers, material handlers and shippers and receivers. 2. Elevated levels: About 900 young worker injuries can be attributed to sprains, strains and fractures stemming from working at heights in jobs that involve labouring on ladders, stairs, scaffolding or other raised areas. 3. Knives: Using knives in cooking and food services, retail and stocking jobs is responsible for approximately 525 cuts and/or lacerations among young workers. 4. Hot substances or objects: An estimated 350 young workers in the hospitality service industry experience on-the-job burns. 5. Mobile equipment or vehicles: Around 250 young workers sustain sprain, strain, tear or fracture injuries while driving, riding or operating near mobile equipment. 6. Food slicers: Roughly 150 deli and grocery sales clerks, cooks and food-service workers sustain cuts and lacerations from using food slicers. 7. Running equipment or machinery: Approximately 125 cuts, lacerations and fractures are reported by young workers employed as labourers in the manufacturing or construction industries, machine operators, material handlers, bakers and cooks. 44

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JOB MATTERS: Although gender, age, ethnicity and risk-taking behaviour are sometimes regarded as factors that could influence the level of danger young workers face, the job itself is the single most important determinant in occupational risk. A systematic review of risk factors for work injury among youth by the IWH, published in 2006, concludes that “it is the characteristics of the workplace and the job that put a young worker at higher risk, not the young worker’s individual characteristics. Exposure to work hazards and work overload have the strongest association for risk.” Young workers are also less able to endure the physical demands presented by work conditions. A study on heat stress published last summer by the IWH found that young men in manual occupations are most vulnerable to extreme heat. The more inexperienced they are, the more likely they are to need time off work to recover from heat-related illnesses.

DUE DILIGENCE: As more than half of workplace incidents occur during the first six months on a job, it is important that employers provide proper workplace orientation once a new worker is hired. The New and Young Worker Employer Guide developed by Workplace Safety North, a not-for-profit health and safety organization in North Bay, Ontario, recommends that such an orientation should be between one and four hours in duration. Employers should review a worker’s understanding and document the orientation after it has been delivered. The guide also advises employers to instruct young workers to ask questions and not to perform tasks until they have been properly trained. Since young workers sometimes think that they are invincible, employers need to make them aware of the dangers and educate them on the risks associated with taking safety shortcuts and the importance of wearing safety equipment. For their part, supervisors should correct unsafe acts and conditions, establish and enforce health and safety rules and inspect the workplace for hazards. It is also the employer’s responsibility to make sure that workers are trained before they are allowed to operate tools and equipment or handle hazardous chemicals.

SAFETY SMARTS: Young workers can safeguard their own well-being by knowing their labour rights: the right to know about workplace hazards, the right to participate in workplace occupational health and safety activities, and the right to refuse unsafe work. They should also look out for signs, as early on as the initial job interview, to assess whether an employer takes occupational safety seriously. The CCOHS cites the donning of proper safety gear by employees and the presence of safety posters and warning signs in the workplace and in hazardous areas as among the telltale signs of a safe workplace. During training, it is good practice to seek guidance from experienced employees about safety hazards. Young workers should also ask for written safety instructions if they have not been provided. Finally, they should be taught how to use personal protective equipment and notify the employer of any symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or irritation to the throat, eyes or skin.

CHANGING HORIZON: Just as there is a silver lining in every cloud, there are indications that young worker safety may be improving. An IWH study published in 2009 found that in some Canadian jurisdictions like Ontario and Quebec, the rate of time-loss claims for men under the age of 25 had declined significantly between 2000 and 2007. In fact, the number of injuries in Quebec had decreased to the point that they reached the same level as that of older workers. Researchers have also noted a downward trend among young female workers in Ontario and Quebec.

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Bill C-45: Ten Years Later Bill C-45, commonly known as the “Westray Disaster Law” or Westray Bill, is an amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code enacted on March 31, 2004. The bill was created following the Westray coal mining disaster in Nova Scotia, where 26 miners were killed after methane gas caused an explosion in 1992. Under the legislation, companies and their representatives can be charged with criminal negligence of workers’ health and safety. The bill also established new

legal duties for workplace safety and imposed serious penalties for violations resulting in occupational injuries or fatalities. Norm Keith, partner with law firm Fasken Martineau in Toronto and author of Workplace Health and Safety Crimes, speaks with OHS Canada on the repercussions the bill has had on Canadian workplaces 10 years after it came into effect.

OHS: Has Bill C-45 made workplaces safer? NK: In my opinion, no — Bill C-45 has not made workplaces safer. When you look at trending statistics over the last decade, the number of fatalities appears to be consistent or a little bit on the rise.

that are referenced in terms of what a reasonable step is. So what we are left with is giving a very broad and virtual blank cheque to judges who are hearing these cases to make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to what were reasonable steps in the circumstances. And that is very reactive; that is not proactive and does not give, in effect, advanced notice and communicate expectations to employers across Canada as to what really constitutes reasonable steps. Canada is a federal state with power-share between federal government and provinces; you have all sorts of different standards from one province to the other or from one province to the federal government that are very inconsistent. So you have got too much uncertainty in the language, you have got too much discretion in the hands of judges in any cases and just the absence of a national consistent standard for what good safety practice is across Canada. That all feeds into the confusion and uncertainty of what you are supposed to do to comply with Bill C-45.

OHS: If it has not made workplaces safer, what are the changes that it has brought about? NK: There is obviously a greater potential of being prosecuted criminally for a workplace accident. So with Bill C-45, you now have a crime of occupational or safety criminal negligence that could, in fact, result in criminal charges. The second point is that it has unfortunately created more confusion in terms of what employers must do to have a safe and lawfully compliant workplace. The duty in Bill C-45 is to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm. Because that duty is so broad and vague, there is more debate and uncertainty than ever as to what are proper legal standards in Canada to be followed. Thirdly, I think it has created more anxiety for senior management and executives because of the risk of going to jail, and generally, business is being put in a more defensive posture for health and safety risk. OHS: Can the broad wording of the legislation be made more specific? NK: There are several problems with the wording. First of all, taking “reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm” is actually part of the language from the Regina versus the City of Sault Ste. Marie1 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada — it sets down the defence of due diligence. But due diligence is a defence to a strict liability defence; it is not a defence to a criminal charge. So that is the first problem. They have taken the language, drafted us a bill, took the language of strict liability defences and, in effect, made it a crime. So that has confused a lot of people. Secondly, there are no applicable or reference standards or regulations in provincial health and safety law or under the Canada Labour Code federally or otherwise, non-legal standards like the Canadian Standards Association standards

OHS: How hard is it to establish a conviction for an occupational safety violation under the Criminal Code? NK: For an individual, the crown attorney prosecuting to get a conviction needs to establish basically two main elements: the individual failed to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to a worker under their direction or control; and the prosecution needs to show criminal intent. For criminal intent, as a safety negligence charge, there has to be a wanton and reckless disregard for safety or human life, and that is a pretty low standard of intent. Criminal negligence causing death in a workplace — perhaps a supervisor is blamed for the death of a worker — could result in the accused, if they are convicted, going to jail for life. They have a maximum of life imprisonment that is the same punishment for first-degree murder. To convict a corporation, it is somewhat more complex. You need the elements that the individual offence includes, but then you also need the addition of having a so-called senior officer for the corporation who failed to implement a health and safety management system that would likely have prevented a representative or the supervisor from committing the offence. And to this day, the courts have still not, in a

The decision relates to a case that dates back to 1978, when the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario hired Cherokee Disposal to dispose of the city’s waste. The city built a disposal site 20 feet from a stream, which, when the disposal company filled the site, resulted in waste seeping into the stream. The city was charged with discharging refuse or permitting it to be discharged into the public waterways, causing pollution pursuant to section 32(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act. The issue before the court was whether the city’s offence should have been classified as strict liability — determined by the due diligence defence or whether the defendant had taken all reasonable steps to avoid the particular event — or absolute liability, which requires proof of mens rea (guilty intent).



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trial, interpreted and applied this scope of responsibility for a senior officer. So there is a great deal of uncertainty, 10 years after the law was established, of who is a senior officer and what do they have to do to be liable. OHS: In the past decade, only a handful of the nine prosecutions that commenced under the Bill C-45 amendments resulted in convictions under the Criminal Code. What does this rate of successful prosecution say about the effectiveness of this legislation? NK: I guess the point about organizations and corporations that have been charged — none of them are ever going to trial. They either have charges withdrawn after they have been laid or they have pleaded guilty. And as you know, Metron Construction pleaded guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death, even though four people were killed — that is a very questionable judgement on the part of the prosecution because four people died. Why would you let the other three charges go? I just don’t understand the rationale there. But there are strategic and other considerations in resolving these matters, quite apart from just pure legal questions. So we have not many cases. On average, we are seeing one case go to court a year. And if you look at the statistics, the best numbers from the Associations of Workers’ Compensation Boards, on average, we have about a thousand workers killed every year or die from health exposures in Canada. So you have one successful prosecution out of Bill C-45 a year — you have 1,000 people killed — that is a 0.1 per cent risk when you have a fatality of actually being convicted. OHS: What are the contributing factors to the low rate of conviction — are prosecutors reluctant to use Bill C-45? NK: First of all, prosecutors are reluctant, but even before we get there, the police investigate and generally lay a criminal charge with the support of a prosecutor. So the police are poorly educated on what Bill C-45 means. Secondly, it is a question of relative priority. I think as a matter of provincial or local policing policy, workplace accidents are not a priority for the police, and they tend to get involved only when there is a great deal of media coverage. So ironically, the media drives as much as anything criminal investigation or prosecution of workplace accidents or fatalities, more than sound criminal justice policy. OHS: Considering the low rate of successful conviction compared to the number of workers killed a year, is it fair to say that this legislation lacks teeth? NK: Bill C-45 is here to stay. Every political party federally supported it; nobody opposed it. There would be a lot of reaction by unions, by the media and by workers’ groups if there is ever any attempt to remove it from the Criminal Code. One key missing piece from Bill C-45 that could very well be helpful — as they turn into an improvement for workplace safety in Canada — is a set of guidelines set by either the provincial ministry of attorney generals, the chief prosecutor in each province or a collective view, which I would prefer, the ministry of justice from each province and the federal government. In that document, there should be some statement of what we mean when we say “taking reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm.” Is it breaching provincial law or safety law? Is

it breaching a non-legally binding standard like a Canadian Standards Association standard or a manufacturer’s operations manual for equipment? All of those criteria should be thought through and then reduced to writing in a consensus-based policy that gives the law-enforcement community some clear direction on when you look at a Bill C-45 charge and when you don’t. OHS: What can employers do to minimize their risk of criminal prosecutions for workplace safety violations? NK: They need to realize that safety is not only a legal risk of criminal proportions. I would say to businesses, “Look, this is serious. You could actually go to jail for life as an executive if you show wanton or reckless disregard for your workers.” But that is not the only reason why safety should be a priority in your business. It should be because you actually care about your workers and their lives and their safety. And even more than that, you should think about the value to shareholders, the owners of the company. A high commitment to health and safety — and the related benefits of productivity and morale that all the studies have proven are consistent with a high commitment to safety — is going to benefit the business. OHS: Are we likely to see a rise in the number of convictions under Bill C-45 in the future? NK: I am not sure if we are going to see rising convictions, but I believe with the 10th anniversary discussion of Bill C-45 and with the Metron case, there is a greater media and union awareness of the Criminal Code provisions. And I think there will be more pressure for more charges; whether that results in conviction, I don’t know. But I think you are going to see in the next 10 years a lot more charges. OHS: What can employers take away from the case involving Metron Construction, which was convicted of criminal negligence causing death? NK: There were six workers on a scaffold 13 stories above the ground, and there were two safety lanyards. That is an appalling and obvious safety breach. The Court of Appeal that increased the fine from $200,000 to $750,000 says they are not too worried if the company goes bankrupt, because it does not appear to be active in any event. They are saying, “Look, safety is more important than your business viability.” The Court of Appeal reasons are quite strong and a strong message to employers. And they are going to be looked at by prosecutors and police in the future. OHS: Is there anything you would like to add? NK: Safety is something that is an ongoing part of every business’ legal obligations. Putting a program in place, doing training, does not end the responsibility. It is a continuous, ongoing responsibility. And that is, under the law, very clear. The second thought is that safety, to be effective, not only needs strong legal consequences, but needs to be rethought by companies and their executives as being an opportunity. I think there is a growing — slow, but growing — public awareness that safety is as important as value in business. Executives need to look at the value or the benefit in a positive way of investing in safe workplaces. Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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TIME OUT AN EYEFUL: A woman who wanted to bring her concerns

to the mayor in Niagara Falls, Ontario took the idiom “getting something off one’s chest” literally by walking into the mayor’s office topless on April 24. Mayor Jim Diodati was not in office when the woman, reportedly a sex worker who wanted to discuss the challenges in her trade, came and talked to the staff before leaving on her own accord, the Toronto Sun reports. Visitors normally had to be buzzed in, but the doors were left open that day. Although City Hall does not handle sex-trade worker issues, Diodati says he does not like to ignore his constituents. It was certainly a sight that the mayor could not have ignored, had he been in office that day.

BAGGAGE A-FLYING: It was not just planes soaring through the air at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on April 17. Passengers on Air Canada flight 137 caught baggage handlers tossing luggage 20 feet from the top of a moving staircase to a bin below. The act was captured on video by a passenger, who watched as “dozens and dozens of bags” were thrown down, CityNews reports. The passenger who filmed the video did not want to hold up the flight by complaining at the time. He posted the video on YouTube before the plane left the ground to alert the airline to this haphazard handling of travellers’ baggage. Air Canada says it will investigate the incident. HELLUVA RIDE: From straddling horses to riding snow-

mobiles, several Mounties in Red Deer, Alberta have shown the lengths they will go to fulfill their duties. Blackfalds RCMP was responding to a call about a break-and-enter at a rural address where firearms and other items had been stolen, when they got another call about a stolen tractor on April 3, The Canadian Press reports. The officers hitched a ride with a snowmobiler and pursued the tractor through snowy fields. The tractor crashed through farmers’ fences and stands of trees before climbing a hill, causing it to stall and roll down the hill. Police said they found the stolen firearms in the cab of the tractor. The driver has been charged with break-andenter and theft of more than $5,000, along with other charges.

UNDER THE SKIN: The Canadian Cancer Society in Sas-

katchewan is smarting over a sign outside a tanning salon in Moose Jaw extolling the virtues of “smart tanning”. The salon owner’s reference to tanning as “light therapy” is not being taken lightly by the cancer society, which advocates against the kind of posters found outside the Relaxzinn Tan shop, calling the term misleading — particularly for teens, CBC News reported on April 19. The World Health Organization’s classification of tanning beds as carcinogenic, in line with cigarettes and asbestos, did not seem to faze the salon owner, who believes that everything should be done in moderation.

ANGELS IN SCRUBS: How would you like it if your nurse walked into a patient’s room in pajamas? That question has sparked a movement across Canada, as employers and some employees push back against the lack of professional attire among healthcare workers. The Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union has called on its members to move to a standard uniform of a white top and black pants, the National 50

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Post reported on April 17. While Newfoundland and Labrador’s move has yet to become mandatory, the province is following in the footsteps of Nova Scotia, where all nurses have been required to wear a black-and-white uniform since 2012.

HEATED DEBATE: A chilli-sauce factory has proven to

be too hot for a Southern California city to handle, as its city council put off voting on whether to declare the factory a public nuisance after residents complained of tear-inducing fumes from the factory. Irwindale filed a lawsuit against the factory last October over allegations that the smell of crushed peppers from the plant was causing headaches and irritating the eyes and throats of nearby residents. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the hot-sauce maker in November to curb noxious emissions, but stopped short of requiring a shutdown that the city was seeking. The factory owner contends that had the fumes been toxic, he would have been dead already after being in the business for more than three decades.

GETTING LOADED: One cannot drink and drive, but

one can certainly shoot and drink. Oklahoma City may be about to host a new indoor shooting range — the first one in the state to include a licenced bar, the city newspaper The Journal Record reports. What could possibly go wrong with mixing guns and alcohol? Nothing at all, says the local Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission — as long as patrons shoot first and drink later. To enforce this, the venue owners plan to use an electronic security system that scans customers’ driver’s licences upon entry to the range’s separate areas to make sure that they neither re-enter the shooting area nor buy guns or ammunition after having a drink.

THE REAL THING: A desk clerk in St. Petersburg, Florida ignored what looked like a mannequin that somebody had tossed onto the patio of the apartment complex where he worked — only to find out who the real dummy was. As it was April 1, he thought that the figure was just a tasteless April Fool’s Day prank and moved it to a nearby dumpster, the Tampa Bay Times reports. He was later aghast to learn that the “mannequin” was actually the body of a 96-year-old woman who had jumped from her 16th-floor balcony the night before. No criminal charges were laid against the clerk, but the complex fired him anyway. It never hurts to doublecheck everything, especially on April 1. SEEING RED: It is easy to understand a building owner’s frustration with defaulting apartment dwellers. But hefty rent arrears from one residence in Burgau, Germany almost drove the landlord to go all Friday the 13th on his tenants on April 2. The man entered the apartment and threatened the tenants with a whirring chainsaw until the horrified residents called the police, Reuters reports. He turned off the saw when officers arrived at the scene with guns and charged him with threatening bodily harm. There is no word on whether his scare tactic persuaded the tenants to pay the approximately €13,000 (the equivalent of nearly CAD$20,000) they owed him. Sometimes, a strongly worded letter is not enough. Follow us on Twitter @OHSCanada

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On Edge






Caring at arm’s length


Promulgating safety in a diverse workforce

Tracing the safety steps of uranium mining

BRIDGING THE DIVIDE Stun guns spark concerns



Keeping an eye out for cab drivers





Shoring up safety in excavation work

Teachers at higher risk of speech and language disorders



Piecing together an ammonium nitrate explosion

Benchmarking tool predicts safety performance

Workforce challenges in the oil and gas sector


Guarding against cyber-breaches


On the defensive against influenza


Wellness indicators for healthcare workers


Getting a handle on workplace disability


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OHS CANADA June 2014  
OHS CANADA June 2014  

OHS CANADA is the leading Canadian occupational health and safety magazine. We publish eight issues per year: Jan/Feb, March, April/May, Jun...