Four Things You Should Know If You’ve Been Injured At Work
Why it is important to be properly represented if you’ve been involved in an accident in the workplace or are facing an OHSA investigation.
Your workplace should be a safe space. No matter where you are employed or what position you have within an organization, there are standards that must be met by all employers. These standards and regulations are set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Everyone goes to work and expects to be able to perform their daily duties free from injury or risk of dangerous, possibly life-threatening hazards. Nevertheless, unfortunate situations happen, and injuries can occur.
Understanding what is covered, what regulations are in place, how they’re enforced and what happens if they aren’t complied with is important; but what are the chances you’ll remember all of this if something happens. Handling these types of situations can be complex and often requires intervention from an experienced legal professional. There are questions, uncertainties and knowledge barriers that make navigating the recovery process difficult and overwhelming. If you have someone on your side to represent you and take on these matters, you can spend your time focusing on recuperating.
What is covered under the OHSA?
Thankfully, the OHSA covers just about every employee in Ontario. Whether you’re a worker, supervisor or employer if something were to happen while you’re at work, you are eligible to receive compensation.
There are a few exceptions to the OHSA in that certain individuals are not covered through this act. According to the Ministry of Labour if you are injured while working in one of the two categories below the OHSA does not apply.
- Any work done by the owner or resident, or domestic help, on a privately owned residence or on any land that is connected to the private property
- Workplaces under federal jurisdiction. Even though there may be some federal authorities that accept outside contractors, or vendors, while working in these environments they are under provincial jurisdiction
The OHSA is also limited in that workplaces under federal jurisdiction are regulated by the Canadian Labour Code. Workplaces such as the post office, airlines and airports or banks fall into this category.
What types of regulations are in place?
Regulations can fit into different categories depending on the sector, type of work or potential hazard. Sector specific regulations apply to health care & residential facilities, construction projects, mines & mining plants as well as industrial institutions. Window cleaning, working in a confined space, diving operations and offshore oil & gas production all pertain to hazardous work and therefore are covered with their own set of regulations. Exposures related to health are covered either through sector regulations or specific hazard regulations separate from other hazardous work regulations.
How is the OHSA enforced? What happens when it isn’t followed?
The goal for every workplace is to achieve self-compliance with the OHSA through a well managed internal responsibility system (IRS). In cases where this approach doesn’t successfully occur, it becomes enforced through issuing orders and potentially prosecution.
Inspectors are responsible for looking deeper into any claims and enforcing the act on behalf of the Ministry of Labour. The duties of an inspector can include an inspection of the workplace, investigation of accidents and even the recommendation of prosecution. The guidelines these inspectors are to follow is outlined in the OHSA.
When the OHSA and the included regulations aren’t complied with the consequences can range; maximum punishment is listed in the OHSA. A successful prosecution could, for each conviction, lead to:
- An individual person being fined up to $100,000 or face 12 months in prison
- A corporation receiving a fine of up to $1,500,000
When it comes to being injured at work, knowing that you can be compensated for your injuries is the first step. Knowing who to call to ensure you get what you deserve is the second. Rather than sitting back and fighting an uphill battle, having a professional take the reigns is not only comforting for you and your family, but it also increases your chances of receiving appropriate compensation.
Our experienced lawyers at Ertl Law can help you if you’re an employer facing an Ontario Health and Safety Act investigation, or if you are an employee and you believe your rights regarding safety in the workplace have been violated. Contact our team of employment lawyers and schedule your free consultation today.