A change was recently made to the Prince Edward Island Occupational Health and Safety Act (the "PE OHS Act") effective May 8, 2013. As a result, a prosecution for an offence under the PE OHS Act must now be commenced within two years.
The Prince Edward Island Workers Compensation Board ("WCB") began a Fall Protection – Zero Tolerance Campaign in July 2012, which was relaunched again in May 2013. The campaign was initiated as a result of repeated violations of the fall protection requirements in the PE OHS Act. The goal of the campaign is to eliminate violations of the PE OHS Act and raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety.
WCB occupational health and safety officers are inspecting Prince Edward Island workplaces for fall protection and enforcing the PE OHS Act and its regulations. Violations may result in orders (including stop work orders) or prosecution under the PE OHS Act.
The original campaign resulted in charges and fines to three employers, two supervisors and nine workers for failing to comply with the PE OHS Act. According to the WCB, "each charge represents an unsafe situation that could have resulted in a serious or fatal fall."
A relatively recent case from Prince Edward Island highlights the importance of establishing safe work procedures and providing workers with adequate training.
In May 2011, a worker at a multi-purpose facility owned by the City of Summerside (the "City") inadvertently mixed two chemicals, creating a toxic chlorine gas and requiring the facility to be evacuated. The worker underwent medical treatment for injuries sustained. The WCB investigation determined that:
- The chemical containers were not sufficiently labelled.
- Safe work procedures were not in place.
- The employer failed to provide adequate training and equipment to promote the safe use of the chemicals.
In December 2011, the City pleaded guilty to one count of failure to ensure proper instruction and training for health and safety. The City received a fine of $500 and an additional penalty of $15,000.