Changes to Workers Compensation Act provide stronger safety regulations

Although Macatee's appointment and recommendations were in response to mill safety concerns, changes brought about through Bill 9 apply to all B.C. workplaces.

Vancouver (11 Sept. 2015) — Recent amendments to the Workers Compensation Act are meant to improve workplace health and safety and to provide stronger tools to WorkSafeBC officers for enforcing the Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

Changes to Workers Compensation Act are the result of mill explosiions in 2012 but pertain to all workplaces

Bill 9, the Workers Compensation Amdendment Act, received Royal Assent on May 14, 2015 and makes a number of changes to Part 3 of the Workers Compensation Act. Some of those have already come into effect and others will be phased in over the coming months. The changes are due to recommendations in a report written by Administrator Gordon Macatee, released in July 2014. Macatee was appointed to the role following mill explosions in 2012 in Prince George and Burns Lake, where four workers died and many more were injured.

Although Macatee's appointment and recommendations were in response to mill safety concerns, changes brought about through Bill 9 apply to all B.C. workplaces.

HSABC/NUPGE members need to be aware of new time frames for investigations

One of the important changes that members of the Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) who are involved in joint occupational health and safety committees (JOHS) should be aware of has to do with tighter time frames for incident investigations.

Employers are now required to investigate and issue preliminary reports within 48 hours of an incident and to submit a full investigation report to WorkSafeBC within 30 days, unless an extension is granted. As was the case previously, worker reps and the JOHS committee should be involved in those investigations.

Bill 9 highlights

Changes to the Workers Compensation Act include

  • expanded Stop Work Order powers (in effect May 2015)
  • changes to employer incident investigations (in effect May 2015)
  • expanded injunction powers (in effect May 2015)
  • changes to penalty due diligence (in effect May 2015)
  • compliance agreements (effective Sept. 15, 2015)
  • employer citations (to be implemented in early 2016)
  • request for reviews (effective Sept. 15, 2015)
  • additional members on Workers Compensation Board of Directors (effective Sept. 15, 2015)

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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