The Occupational Health and Safety Act obligation to notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour of accidents and occupational illness claims is not a mere technicality, as one employer has learned when it was hit with a $75,000.00 fine.
Three workers were assigned to dismantle equipment. A worker was cutting the equipment when he saw a liquid substance emerge along with white smoke. It was later learned that the equipment contained lead and that the worker had melted lead when doing the cutting. Neither the worker nor his supervisor were aware that the equipment contained lead.
Later, two of the workers filed “occupational illness” claims with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for illnesses that had possibly resulted from the exposure to lead. The employer was advised of these WSIB claims. Although section 52(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act required that the employer report to the Ministry of Labour within four days of learning that a “worker has an occupational illness or that a claim in respect of an occupational illness has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board by or on behalf of the worker . . .”, the employer did not notify the Ministry of Labour.
The employer was charged with and pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Ministry of Labour of the occupational disease claim. The court imposed the fine of $75,000.00, merely for failing to report to the Ministry of Labour.
The Ministry of Labour’s press release on this case may be accessed here.