BC's unions welcome occupational health and safety legislation; improvement only possible with demonstrated commitment to enforcement

After years of pushing the BC government to act, the BC Federation of Labour is pleased that the Minister of Labour has finally taken action on needed reforms to increase workplace safety and hold negligent employers accountable. Legislation was introduce February 10.

“Increased enforcement and prosecution of negligent employers is fundamental to improving worker safety and compliance with the law,” said Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour. “We have long been calling on the provincial government to put in place the needed legislation to ensure negligent employers are held accountable when a worker is killed or injured on the job.

“The reforms introduced today are an important step in the right direction, but there is more the government can do to give these reforms real teeth,” said Lanzinger.

In addition to some of the steps outlined in the Macatee Report, the BCFED has been asking government for a dedicated Crown Prosecutor, a Crown charge assessment policy specific to workplace death, and education for prosecutors, police services and WCB investigative officers around criminal negligence from a workplace health and safety perspective.

“The real test of any new legislation is enforcement,” said Lanzinger. “We know the devastating consequences when employers fail to protect their employees, and it is up to the government to enforce the laws and regulations put in place."

Heatlh Sciences Association of BC participates on the BC Federation of Labour's Occupational Health and Safety committee and worked with BC's unions to advance necessary regulations and legislation to increase workplace safety for all BC workers.