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Vancouver Employment Law Blog

Deceased workplace accident victims honoured in British Columbia

Sunday, April 28, 2019 was the National Day of Mourning, and the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver was lit to mark the day. Deceased workplace accident victims were honoured in memorial services across the province. Hundreds of surviving family members, workers and union leaders paid tribute to victims who succumbed to work-related injuries or illnesses.

According to WorkSafeBC, 131 workers lost their lives in 2018. While this is 27 fewer deaths than in 2017, authorities say more needs to be done to improve occupational safety. Harry Bains, the B.C. Minister of Labour, said workplace safety should be the first priority of employers and employees.

Employee Terminations: Payment In Lieu Of Notice

Terminating employees is rarely a smooth task. Even if every process is followed by the book, there could be anger, resentment and hurt feelings that may cause conflicts in the workplace. Therefore, its important for employers to know their statutory rights and obligations for how to process employee terminations.

As listed on the Government of British Columbia website, there are several different rules that need to be followed. The outline for providing notice and calculating compensation amounts is also listed.

What does wrongful termination really mean?

It is not uncommon for employees in British Columbia who lost their jobs to feel that they were unjustly dismissed. However, the term wrongful termination (also known as wrongful dismissal), in law, applies to certain specific situations. The simple explanation is that wrongful termination occurs when when a person is fired without cause and either no severance pay is offered or the amount of severance pay is insufficient.

A person may have grounds to claim wrongful termination even if he or she is not fired. This is known as constructive dismissal, which occurs when an employer makes changes to an employee's terms of employment that are so drastic the changes undermine the employment agreement between the employee and employer. Both constructive dismissal and wrongful termination may be legally challenged.

Vancouver woman fights for benefits after workplace accident

Workers in most industries in British Columbia are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Some employers will do anything to avoid paying a victim of a workplace accident, but injured workers should not give up. Legal counsel is available to fight for the rights to compensation.

An example of such a case involves an employee of a federal agency who was injured in a car accident while driving an unmarked police vehicle. She had permission to drive the company vehicle to her home after work because she was scheduled to give a presentation at another location on the following morning. After she embarked on the trip the next day, she encountered a snowstorm. She lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the median.

Focus on craft brewery workplace injury risks

Employers in British Columbia must protect the health and safety of their workers. WorkSafeBC expects employers in all industries to mitigate known safety hazards to prevent on-the-job accidents. The craft brewery industry is growing rapidly, and safety authorities say the workplace injury risks have increased at a similar pace.

The most frequently reported injuries on claims for compensation among workers in craft distilleries and breweries include exposure to excessive cold and heat, falls, repetitive motion, struck-by, and overexertion injuries. Injury data also revealed that workers between ages 25 and 34 suffered the highest number of occupational injuries in this industry. As a part of the emphasis program, WorkSafeBC published and distributed a video as well as guides and posters to inform employers and employees of newly established and existing safety standards.

Understanding employee rights upon termination

When workers in British Columbia lose their jobs, it can be one of the most stressful times that they will ever face. Employment law surrounding workplace dismissals can be complicated, and there may be many questions and concerns these individuals will have as they try to push forward and plan for the future. Unfortunately, job losses occur all too frequently, and it can be crucial for employees to know their rights on these occasions.

Bill to protect nurses from violence-related workplace injury

All employers in British Columbia have various obligations and duties toward employees. The Workers' Compensation Act requires employers to protect the health and safety of employees. An employer who fails to comply with the required standards could be held accountable if an employee should suffer a preventable workplace injury. However, some believe that health care workers in particular need more protection against workplace violence.

Members of the BC Nurses' Union welcomed the recent proposal of Bill C-434 that would lead to an amendment to the Canada Criminal Code and require investigations into assaults against health care workers as crimes for potential sentencing. Peace officers and transit operators are already professions that are protected under Canada's Criminal Code. Advocates now ask for health care professionals to be added to the list.

Carcinogens are as threatening as any other workplace injury

Workers in all industries in British Columbia are exposed to hazards in the workplace. While any workplace injury that involves fractured bones or open wounds is easy to recognize as being work-related, some occupational illnesses might be questioned. However, an endless list of carcinogens and radiation sources exist in various industries, and employers must protect employees against them.

Cancer-causing material can enter the bodies of workers through inhalation or ingestion, or it can be absorbed through the skin. What many employees do not realize is that carcinogenic material adheres to work clothes. If workers do not change their clothing before they go home, they put their families at the same risk.

Legal help is available when hiring new employees

Business owners in British Columbia must ensure they follow the required legal steps when hiring new employees. After crafting a job description and placing an advertisement that complies with human rights and employment law, the employer can conduct interviews with applicants and make an employment offer to the successful person. Along with informing the chosen candidate of the starting date and time to report for duty, it might be a good idea to discuss other matters that might reduce some of his or her anxiety.

To get off to a good start, the new employee can be prepared for what to expect on the first day at work. The employer can explain the dress code and inform the worker of any special equipment to bring along to work. A facility tour, a meeting with supervisors or managers, orientation sessions, or other methods of mentoring can be utilized. This will set the new person at ease and make him or her ready to give his or her best.

Needles and sharp objects pose serious workplace injury hazards

The hazards posed by puncture wounds caused by needlesticks and other sharp objects are prevalent in the health care industry. However, the threat of this type of workplace injury can also be found in Vancouver facilities where workers deal with solid waste and recovery of recycling material. These injuries often involve inadvertent skin punctures during the disposal or disassembly of hypodermic needles.

The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety says other sharp objects that pose puncture or skin piercing threats include razor blades, scalpels, metal wire and scissors. When a discarded needle or another sharp object pierces a worker's skin, infectious diseases can be transmitted. These bloodborne pathogens could include HIV and the hepatitis B and C viruses.

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