OHSA inspections, much ado about overtime limitations and...

This week’s HR Heartbeat breaks down OHSA inspections and recent overtime rulings that may affect employers in Alberta.

First published on Monday, Jul 24, 2023

Last updated on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2023

3 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business. Plus get up-to-the-minute commentary on all things HR and legal.

So, let's check out this week's headlines..

Gear up! OHSA inspections have begun

Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development (MLITSD) are conducting compliance activities and campaigns to promote compliance with Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) running from June 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024.

Simply put, they'll be conducting inspections to ensure all employers follow workplace health & safety regulations.

All employers should take this announcement seriously. But the announcement does hold more weight for employers in health care, industrial, mining, and construction because the inspections will focus on specific topics or businesses within these sectors.

The following types of small businesses and employers should expect an inspection:

  • The health care sector (e.g., group homes, home health care services, and retirement homes).

  • In the industrial sector, workplaces where large or bulky materials or things are lifted, carried, moved, or wherever workers risk injury.

  • In the construction sector, inspections will focus on falls from heights during roofing and framing activities and hazards related to workers getting struck by materials or equipment.

Employers should make sure they have up-to-date risk assessments and report any workplace illnesses and injuries to prevent getting hit with hefty fines.

Not sure where to start? Speak to a health and safety expert for guidance on how best to prepare for OHSA inspections.

Much ado about overtime limitations

A recent ruling by the Alberta Court of Kings' Bench considered that the six-month limit on overtime claims stipulated in the Alberta Employment Standards Code does not apply to civil claims.

A terminated employee filed an overtime claim with a civil court instead of relying on the complaint process for Employment Standards, and the Court ruled in their favor.

Employers in Alberta need to pay extra attention to this. There was no averaging agreement between the employee and employer on overtime, so the Court ruled that all 719 hours of overtime owed should be paid to the employee according to civil law.

To avoid making the same mistakes that end in paying overtime claims running into thousands of dollars, it's important to make sure that employees properly track and report their overtime daily. Also, never skip issuing timely payments, so you don't get hit with shocking claims like this.

See how Blip—our time tracking app helps employers keep track of each employee's hours worked, including overtime!

Employers face the heat as wildfires blaze

We talked about wildfires last time, but recent reports show there are currently nearly 900 active wildfires burning in Canada. So, we're talking about it some more!

370 of the fires are in British Columbia, and almost 70 million people across the U.S. and Canada could be affected by the deteriorating air quality caused by the wildfire smoke.

Given the high temperatures and poor air quality in areas close to wildfires like Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia, there's a lot more to worry about than your business burning down.

You also have a duty to take all reasonable precautions for the health and safety of your employees under Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

A serious concern with wildfire smoke is the release of PM2.5. It comprises tiny particles of soot and debris, and these floating particles can travel far and enter the body through inhalation. They can deeply affect your employees' lungs, leading to various health problems and potentially fatal consequences. The risks are even higher for individuals with pre-existing health conditions and other risk factors.

Protecting your staff from all the risks of wildfire season, including heat disorders or intoxication due to poor air quality is crucial, so we'd like to remind employers how important it is to conduct risk assessments frequently.

Not only will it help you identify potential hazards that could impact staff health& safety, it also protects you against any claims employees may file against you if they're harmed while on the job. Learn more cool solutions to burning temperatures here.

That's it for today! Come back next week for more HR news so you stay ahead of major employment law changes.

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