When there are workplace accidents, the Ministry of Labour usually investigates. After this investigation, the MOL decides whether to lay charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). If convicted of a charge, an employer can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000 plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge.
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If a worker has been injured at work, here are five things to keep in mind:
Generally, the MOL is called when there is a workplace injury. The MOL sends an inspector to the workplace. One of the inspector’s jobs is to decide whether to charge the employer, a supervisor or a worker under OHSA. If there has been an injury, he will almost certainly recommend that someone be charged.
Do not assume charges will be laid shortly after the accident. The MOL has one year to bring charges against an employer. It is not uncommon for the MOL to complete its investigation soon after the accident but decide not to charge an employer until just before this one year limitation period expires.
An employer should provide the MOL inspector with any information that demonstrates the employer is safety conscious including documentation that shows the employer has provided safety information and instruction in connection with the job the worker was doing when he was injured.
Think about hiring a lawyer to conduct an internal investigation.
If convicted of a charge under OHSA, one of the factors a court will consider when determining a fine is specific and general deterrence. Fines of $50,000 to $100,000 for workplace accidents that result in relatively minor injuries are not uncommon.