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Proposed legislation focuses on workplace accident investigations

Despite many employers taking steps to prevent workplace accidents from occurring, they do still happen. Sometimes they result in employees suffering serious injuries necessitating time away from work. While in time those injuries may heal, other times a worker could find that he or she is permanently disabled. In either situation, following an accident in the workplace an investigation will commence. Legislation recently proposed would make changes to who is involved in those investigations.

The proposed changes are in response to two accidents that occurred in 2012.

Known as Bill 35, the proposed legislation would do multiple things. First, it would make it necessary for all employers to immediately report explosions and fires in the workplace, which could seriously hurt a worker, to WorkSafeBC.

Second, it would require that workplace health and safety committees, or worker health and safety representatives, be provided employer investigation reports. In the alternative, the reports would be posted at the work site. Those investigations should be participated in by not only employers but worker representatives as well.

In addition, when it comes to significant proposed changes to equipment or machinery that might affect the health and safety of a worker, the workplace health and safety committees would provide advice regarding the changes.

Last, when disagreements regarding health and safety matters arise, WorkSafeBC would be able to help the workplace health and safety committees in resolving them.

It is of course a good thing that employee safety is being considered. Employers should be mindful of these upcoming legislative amendments and seek legal counsel for advice on their obligations upon the implementation of the legislation, or in the unfortunate circumstance a workplace accident does occur.

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