We are Listening
I often get questions from both employers and workers as to the creation of legislation. First and foremost, the WSCC does not create legislation. The WSCC was created by legislation to ensure the fair application and enforcement of the legislation we are mandated to look after. I can certainly see where the confusion starts though. The WSCC does make recommendations to our Minister Responsible on changes that may be needed in certain areas of the different Acts or Regulations. These changes are often as a result of court decisions, old or outdated information contained in legislation, and things like that.
For instance, a few years back we were doing the consultation for the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. As we were going along, many if not most felt the WSCC were responsible for the creation of the Regulations. What we do is gather information through consultation, research best practices from around the country, and then make recommendations to our Minister who in turn, along with Cabinet and Committee, usher these through the Legislative process. The WSCC staff work with the legislative drafters to make sure that the language of any new legislation meets the identified needs while respecting and including the feedback from you, gathered through consultation.
In the last little while we were consulting on the use of tickets for employers and workers for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. This process would be much like a traffic ticket except for the Safety Act and Regulations. At the present time the WSCC, through legislation, has the ability to recommend prosecution of employers and/or workers by filing charges for violations of the different Acts we enforce. Under the ticketing process, rather than prosecute a violation, the Safety Officer would issue a ticket which the employer or worker could pay rather than going to court.
During the consultation process we heard loud and clear from everyone that our suggestions as to the types of tickets and the amount of fines were not in line with what you thought was reasonable. I agree. We heard you so we are taking a step back and taking another look. Rather than make recommendations to the Minister on something clearly misunderstood and not in line with our Northern values of keeping workplaces safe, we are going back to the drawing board.
During the consultation period questions came up about ticketing and the actual need. Was this a WSCC “money grab” or a way to keep our Northern workplaces safer? What is not often understood is that safety is everyone’s responsibility. The employer must ensure the workplace is safe; however, the worker also needs to be involved in safety. As I mentioned, we have the ability through legislation to charge both the employer and worker with Safety Act and Regulation violations. Right now, prosecutions are a time consuming and costly process for the WSCC and for employers and workers. A ticketing system will alleviate the costly court process for some of the more minor, but frequent, offences, while still ensuring that the point is made about the importance of safety and of taking individual responsibility to keep workplaces safe.
During the remainder of 2017 and into the early stages of 2018 we are continuing our research and will present our findings to our Northern employers and workers. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Together we can reduce and eliminate accidents in the North. DG