Workplace Safety & Insurance

Until recently, about the only workplaces where employers had to worry about noise levels were factories, mines and oil rigs.

That all changed December 9th of last year when Regulation 381/15 was approved. Set to take effect July 1, 2016, the regulation extends noise protection requirements to the following workplaces:

  • farming operations,
  • construction projects,
  • health care facilities,
  • schools,
  • fire services,
  • police services, and
  • amusement parks


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With the holiday season in full swing, many employers are in the process of planning their office holiday parties.  Holding a social event is a great way to celebrate the holiday season and to thank employees for their hard work. Unfortunately, employers face the risk of liability should an employee be permitted to drink too much and/or engage in inappropriate behavior at a work-related function. There is the added risk of safety-related liability should that intoxicated employee drive home and injure themselves or an innocent third party. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to reduce these risks.

While it is someone else’s job to make sure there is enough eggnog and to pick the band, it is our job to remind you to take proactive steps when planning your holiday celebration. Here are some tips for hosting a safe and successful office holiday party, while reducing the risk of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.


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Any employer who has faced an accommodation-related claim understands that assessing the scope and extent of their duty to accommodate is often a challenging process.

Some helpful direction arrived in Poursadi v. Bentley leathers (2015 HRTO 138), which pitted Ms. Robabeh Poursadi, a retail store manager, against her employer, Bentley Leathers Inc. (Bentley), in a case which ultimately turned on the identification of the employee’s essential duties.

The decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) provides employers with some further guidance for navigating the often murky waters of accommodating employees, particularly when an employee’s essential duties are in dispute (which is often). One key to success in these cases, as this decision illustrates, is being prepared to provide a sound evidentiary basis for what constitutes an employee’s essential duties.
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Introduction

An employee’s use of intoxicants, like marijuana, can adversely affect the work environment by:

  • compromising the ability of employees to perform their job duties;
  • threatening the health and safety of the employee and his or her co-workers; and
  • undermining the employer’s reputation.

It is no surprise, then, that employees who are found to be under the influence at work often face discipline.

Yet, the rise of marijuana as a treatment for disabling medical conditions (such as epilepsy, chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder) has caused this once relatively “clear” issue to become more complex.
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Most employers pay premiums under Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (the “WSIA”), providing workers who suffer injury or death in the course of employment with “no fault” insurance benefits.  When workplace injuries occur that are covered by WSIA benefits, workers must claim through the WSIA’s insurance plan, and are “barred” from pursuing a civil claim against their employer.

But when are mental stress claims covered?  And when must an employee claim for mental stress under the WSIA instead of filing a civil claim?
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