Occupational Health and Safety
Health and safety are crucial issues to unions and employees. We use health and safety legislation and grievance arbitration creatively to ensure the protection of employees in their workplaces in the short and long term.
Our services include:
- advising clients on the requirements of the Canada Labour Code and the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, including the operation of health and safety committees, and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS);
- advising clients on dealing with work refusals and obtaining Inspector’s orders under occupational health and safety laws;
- representing unions and their members in administrative proceedings and litigation related to health and safety legislation;
- showing clients how to enforce these laws, and how to use innovative and proactive approaches to protecting people in the workplace; and
- defending union members and individuals against quasi-criminal charges for alleged violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Recent notable cases include:
- Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers / Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association v. Toronto Catholic District School Board, in which the Labour Board considered whether a teacher had the right to refuse work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA"), where she felt (based on numerous prior incidents) that a violent student threatened her safety and the school board refused to remove the student from her classroom. The Board agreed that OHSA protected the teacher's right to refuse work under the circumstances.
- Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Canada Post Corporation, in which the Federal Court of Appeal considered the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' ("CUPW") appeal for judicial review of an Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal decision. That decision found that Canada Post was not obligated to ensure that all areas outside the physical Canada Post building are inspected annually. The Court of Appeal agreed with CUPW and held that the Tribunal's decision was unreasonable.
- Canada (Transport) v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, in which the Firm represented the Canadian Union of Public Employees at the Federal Court of Appeal. The Court reviewed Transport Canada's approval of an amendment to Sunwing Airline's evacuation protocol and held that it was not reasonable. Transport Canada had provided insufficient evidence that it had properly evaluated whether the amendment would compromise passenger or crew safety.
- Toronto Catholic District School Board v Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Toronto Secondary Unit, in which the Firm represented the Association in a grievance arbitration to compel the Board to produce certain Safe Schools Program reports and emergency evaluation response plans to the Joint Health and Safety Committee. The arbitrator directed the Board to produce the portions of the reports that relate to the assessment of specific risks of workplace violence and the measures taken to control these risks, as well as the emergency response plans.