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The Ontario Labour Relations Board recently decided in Scholastic Book Fairs Canada Inc. v. Aguilar, 2012 CanLII 49789 (OLRB), that Ministry of Labour Inspectors are not required to assist employers who may be struggling with the compliance of a MOL safety compliance order.
The employer, Scholastic Book Fairs Canada Inc., was issued a MOL ergonomic safety compliance order when a MOL inspector discovered that the “push forces” required to move a wheeled book case up an eight foot ramp were above the maximum acceptable “snook table” guidelines. According to the Inspector, employees were at risk of a musculoskeletal disorder.
The employer first argued that there were no ergonomic thresholds set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without defined thresholds in the OHSA, the employer maintained that there was no objective basis for the Inspector’s order and, moreover, that compliance with the order would be difficult.
In order to take some of the guess-work out of complying with the order, the employer sought out the help of the MOL Inspector. But to the employer’s surprise, the Inspector “refused to identify ways or means for Scholastic to comply with the order”.
At the hearing, Scholastic raised the issue of the MOL Inspector’s lack of assistance with compliance. In response, the OLRB held that “the Inspector was under no obligation to do so” and that it was up to the employer to “derive a compliance plan that is the most sensible for its operations”. The OLRB upheld the Inspector’s order.
Employers should take away from this case that the MOL appears to be issuing more and more ergonomic compliance orders, which can be difficult to comply with. In addition, it is the employer and not the MOL which will be responsible for determining how to comply with orders.
The lawyers at CCP can assist employers with all types of OHSA matters including defences to MOL charges and compliance with MOL orders.
Please Note: This blog has been prepared as an informational service for our clients and other interested parties. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, a complete statement of the law or opinion on any subject. Although we endeavour to ensure the accuracy of the content, no one should act upon the information provided without a thorough examination of the law after the facts of a specific situation are fully considered.
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