Canada is peerless when it comes to strong protections for Lone Workers. Strong legislation passed at both the Federal and Provincial levels have created an environment where, for the most part, Lone Workers receive an unparalleled level of attention. While it’s easy to make the legislation available, we felt it would be important to discuss in a more general way the current state of Lone Worker Legislation in Canada.
Before addressing Provincial legislation, let’s look at the Federal legislation. Federal Legislation applies evenly to all Territories and Provinces in Canada, which makes legislation at this level the most general, but also what dictates the punishment for a general failure to protect any worker. In Canada, the piece of legislation that matters is bill C-45.
This piece of legislation was passed into law in 2004, and with it assigned criminal liability for businesses who failed to adequately protect their workers in the event of an accident, especially when resulting in a fatality. It compels businesses to take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to workers, and a failure to take these steps can result in significant fines, penalties against the company, and considerable time spent in jail for the individuals responsible for faling to enact all reasonable steps.
The language in bill C-45 is meant to be broad enough to apply to all workers and all organizations, not just those at risk. The interpretation of the law is such that “reasonable steps” are dependent on the circumstances around the work, and Lone Workers carry an additional set of risks that many employers don’t consider beforehand.
Made clear, this means that employers have a legal obligation to take all available steps to protect their workers, and every additional action necessary to guarantee that safety for Lone workers, as well as putting forth the effort to identify all plausible workplace risks.
In the next article, we’ll take a look at what strong provincial legislation looks like, and what it means for Lone Workers in those provinces.