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Vancouver Employment Law Blog

All employers in British Columbia must follow privacy law

Employees in British Columbia who are concerned about how their employers handle their personal information might have questions about their legal rights. According to privacy laws, employers may not share personal information with other employees. The only exception is when such information is essential for others in carrying out their jobs.

When an employer collects an employee's personal information, that information is protected, and access or disclosure rights are limited under the law. The size of the organization or company and its structure will play a role in allowing access to the information of employees. For example, suppose the employee's manager was not involved in the hiring process. In that case, that individual might not have any need for access to a worker's health information, Social Insurance Number and other personal information.

Beware of this silent killer in the workplace

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal within minutes. Any workplace where fuel-powered engines run could be a hazardous area where employees could be overwhelmed by this deadly gas.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is tasteless, odourless and colourless, making it undetectable. A workplace accident involving a worker in a confined space where CO is present almost always ends in tragedy.

Employers: understand the right way to post job ads on Facebook

Nowadays, the world lives on social media. More and more people get their news from platforms like Facebook and Twitter than ever before. If you need to spread the word about an upcoming event or opportunity, utilizing social media seems like a logical place to start.

It makes sense, then, that many employers have moved away from the classified ads section of the newspaper and have started using Facebook to advertise their job postings.

New residential construction safety guidelines in British Columbia

WorkSafeBC recently announced updates to safety protocols for residential construction work. It released a new publication - entitled Safe Work Practices for Residential Construction - as well as a Notice of Project (NOP) postcard. The aim of these measures is to improve health and safety standards and limit preventable workplace accidents in British Columbia.

Federally regulated employees: When can a worker refuse to work overtime?

Employees in British Columbia who are federally regulated under the Canada Labour Code may be unaware that, under specific circumstances, they may refuse to work overtime. What are those circumstances? Based on the Code, family responsibilities may be enough reason to refuse to work overtime. However, the employee must take reasonable steps to attempt to make alternative arrangements that will enable him or her to work.

Examples of cases that may justify a claim of family responsibilities include the following:

Investigating allegations of harassment or bullying in your company

While conducting your annual performance reviews, one of your employees raises a concern about another colleague’s harassing behavior. How should you respond? How do you know whether it’s a serious problem or just hearsay?

As an employer, it is not your job to decide whom to believe or to pick sides. It is, however, your responsibility to take any allegation of workplace bullying or harassment seriously – and take appropriate follow-up action. Ignoring any such incident could allow a potentially harmful workplace situation to persist. It would also be considered a breach of your duties as an employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Occupational health and safety: The 3 main rights of British Columbia workers

British Columbia workers have the right to safe work environments, but that's not all. Under occupational health and safety legislation across Canada -- as exemplified in BC's Workers' Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation -- three main rights of employees include the right to know, the right to participate and the right to refuse dangerous work. 

The right to know means that workers are entitled to be informed of known and potential safety hazards they might encounter on the job. Before work begins, employers must provide training, education, instructions and other relevant information to protect workers from injury or illness. All this must be provided in languages that the workers understand. Furthermore, employers must ensure that adequate supervision is in place.

Be aware of workplace hazards this summer

As the temperatures increase, so do summer-related workplace hazards. Canadian employees, both those who work indoors and out, should be aware of seasonal risks.

Employers should take steps to help protect their employees from illness or injury on the job. When workers suffer a work-related illness or injury this summer, they should explore their workers' compensation options.

An older worker takes longer to recover from workplace injury

After reaching full maturity at about 25 years, the body starts to undergo slow changes. The changes are typically only noticeable between 40 and 50 years of age. An older worker's years of experience might make him or her less likely to suffer a workplace injury. However, older workers may take longer to recover if a workplace injury occurs.

Although each worker is unique, the musculoskeletal system deteriorates over time. These changes decrease the load-bearing capacity, flexibility and range of motion with age. The respiratory and cardiovascular systems are also affected by age, which in turn affects the ability to adjust to changes in temperature.

Steps to take after a workplace injury

Workplace injury statistics show that an average of one million occupational injuries and illnesses are reported across the country each year, including in British Columbia. Safety authorities say almost every workplace injury is preventable, and approximately 10% of work-related accidents lead to brain injuries.

Adequate safety training is one way to limit workplace injuries. If workers learn how to identify risks, they will be able to avoid hazards, and steps can be taken to eliminate or reduce the risks.

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