Every worker in Canada has the right to a safe work environment. In fact, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all workers are entitled to:
- The right to know about health and safety matters.
- The right to participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety.
- The right to refuse work that could affect their health and safety and that of others.
As a construction law firm committed to the industry, the attorneys at Cotney Construction Law assist contractors, suppliers, and other construction professionals with a variety of legal services, including assistance with adhering to safety regulations administered by the Ministry of Labour.
Whether you need legal advice related to complying with safety practices or you’re interested in appealing a citation from a safety inspection, a Toronto OHS lawyer represents construction employers in safety matters.
The Legal Services of a Toronto OHS Defence Attorney
As one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, there are many factors that must be considered when providing a safe workplace for construction workers. From education, training, recordkeeping, and reporting initiatives, it can be daunting for contractors to tackle all of these safety initiatives without the guidance of an experienced Toronto OHS defence attorney.
With the assistance of an attorney, an employer can seek peace of mind knowing that they are taking reasonable precautions to ensure a safe work environment. A construction attorney can assist an employer with the following tasks:
- Drafting and updating safety manuals to ensure they are compliant with OHS regulations
- Advising on ways to implement effective training procedures and practices
- Evaluating the employer’s recordkeeping system
- Evaluating the employer’s reporting system
- Ensuring that all workers are wearing proper personal protection equipment (PPE)
- Performing a third-party inspection of the jobsite and addressing any safety concerns
- Ensuring the employer has appointed competent supervisors and a health and safety committee
Navigating Through Enforcement and Inspection Procedures
Along with the above tasks, a Toronto OHS attorney can ensure that construction employers have a firm understanding of Ontario’s enforcement procedures and workplace inspection laws governed by the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry’s health and safety inspectors have a right to conduct workplace inspections to ensure compliance with the OHS Act. Moreover, if a workplace fails to comply with these regulations, the Ministry has the right to enforce penalties for noncompliance. If an identified hazard is determined to be an imminent threat to the safety of the workplace, an inspector has the right to issue a stop work order ceasing all work until the safety issue is corrected. Failure to comply with a written order can result in a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
The Right to Appeal
Although the penalties of failing to comply with an order are serious, an employer does have the right to appeal an order received by an inspector as long as the appeal is filed to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) within 30 days of the date the order was issued. The OLRB has the authority to uphold the order, rescind it, or issue a new order. To learn more about the inspection process, enforcement procedures, and the right to appeal, consult a Toronto OHS defence lawyer.
Under the OHS Act, specific industries can be subjected to additional regulatory requirements authorized by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The construction industry is one such industry that meets this criteria. To ensure your workplace is up-to-date on the latest safety and health information and in compliance with government requirements, consult the construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.