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Workplace Health, Safety & Compensation Law - Workers’ compensation - Legislation - Interpretation - Offences and enforcement

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  


Appeal by West Fraser Mills (West Fraser) from the dismissal of its application for judicial review of a decision by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal. E was fatally injured in the course of his employment as a tree faller, while working within the area of a forest licence held by West Fraser. E was not a West Fraser employee. He was hired by a company engaged by West Fraser to conduct a process by way of which trees were to be felled to attract fir beetles and trap them. E had been working many hours and was not performing his duties with due care on the date that a rotten tree fell on him, causing injuries that led to his death. West Fraser was the owner of the workplace for the purpose of the Workers Compensation Act. The Board investigated the accidents and found West Fraser had failed to fulfill its obligations as owner of a forestry operation. Specifically, West Fraser had failed to devise an adequate plan for felling the trap trees, failed to assess the workmanship of the company it hired, and failed to evaluate the hazards present and to devise a plan to deal with them. The Board was also concerned with the emergency procedures in place at the West Fraser site. It imposed a $75,000 administrative penalty on West Fraser under section 196 of the Act. West Fraser was unsuccessful in its application for review of the Board’s decision and in its appeal to the Appeal Tribunal. Its application for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision was dismissed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation was authorized pursuant to the Board’s mandate to ensure standards to protect the safety of workers and others were met in workplace environments. The Tribunal had jurisdiction to interpret its own statute and regulations. West Fraser was both an employer and an individual that violated the Act. It did not matter that these two elements were independent of each other. There was nothing unreasonable about imposing duties on West Fraser for violations of the Act, even when such breaches took place in a context where West Fraser was an owner, rather than a supervisor.