Pursuant to section 68(1)(a) of the British Columbia Workers Compensation Act (the “Act“), employers in British Columbia must inform WorkSafeBC immediately of the occurrence of certain workplace accidents, such as where a worker is seriously injured or killed on the job. This report is separate from any compensation claims. The purpose is to enable WorkSafeBC investigation and prevention officers to attend the scene and investigate its integrity before work activities resume.
Duties of WorkSafeBc officers
WorkSafeBc prevention and inspection officers will do the following:
- Ensure worker safety before work resumes
- Ensure safe performance during the cleanup work after the incident
- Determine the need for counselling services, and then offer such services if appropriate
- Provide a compensation claim referral
Which injuries are considered serious?
The term “serious injury” is not defined in the Act. Guideline G-P2-68-1 defines “serious injury” as “any injury that can reasonably be expected at the time of the incident to endanger life or cause permanent injury. Serious injuries include both traumatic injuries that are life threatening or that result in a loss of consciousness, and incidents such as chemical exposures, heat stress, and cold stress which are likely to result in a life threatening condition or cause permanent injury or significant physical impairment.”
In the event of a workplace accident, reporting serious injuries or fatalities should occur immediately after arranging first aid or medical treatment for the victims. The following injury types are typically regarded as serious or traumatic:
- Crush injuries or major fractures
- Amputation of a limb or significant part of a foot or hand at the time of the workplace accident
- Penetration of abdomen, groin, chest, eye, neck or head
- Punctured lung or other severe respiratory problems
- Internal organ injury or internal bleeding
- Severe hemorrhaging caused by lacerations
- Complications related to a burn injury of any degree
- Loss of consciousness or loss of other physical control caused by poisoning or asphyxiation
- Near drowning, lung over-pressurization or decompression illness in a work-related dive
- Traumatic injuries with potential to result in loss of senses like hearing, sight or touch
British Columbia employers who do not comply with these reporting requirements and the subsequent steps to help work accident victims to claim compensation could face administrative penalties. Furthermore, reluctance to report serious injuries might lead to suspicion of negligence by the employer and civil lawsuits filed by injured workers or families of deceased work-accident victims to pursue recovery of monetary damages.
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