(Canadian OH&S News) — Saskatchewan employers who violate oh&s regulations are now receiving summary offence tickets (SOTs), which charge fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 plus victim surcharges, in a new safety enforcement program instigated by the province’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.
“Summary offence tickets will encourage ongoing compliance of health and safety rules and help reduce workplace injuries,” Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, said in a June 27 press statement. “This new tool deals with reoccurring or potentially dangerous contraventions that require immediate action.”
This enforcement tool, which went into effect on July 1, has been in the works since late 2013, according to a government press release. Two designated occupational health officers can now issue SOTs for 12 specified offences, including failure to:
– Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) (fine of $250);
– Submit progress reports or other requested information ($600);
– Supply the approved PPE for workers ($1,000);
– Ensure that workers use fall protection equipment in situations in which they could fall at least three metres ($1,000);
– Protect workers in excavations or trenches from cave-ins ($1,000); and
– Keep holes and other openings covered ($1,000);
“It’s just a little more efficient means of doing what we already were doing,” explained Ray Anthony, the ministry’s director of safety operations for the southern half of the province. “Summary offence ticketing is under the Summary Offences Procedure Act here in Saskatchewan, which is the property of the Ministry of Justice, and all agencies use it.”
Previously, he added, oh&s offenders had faced prosecution from the provincial Ministry of Justice, a formal process that could often take up to two or three years to reach the court system. “And so it wasn’t, shall we say, efficient,” said Anthony. But with the SOT system, court dates tend to come after 30-40 days. “They use, for the sake of a better word, the traffic court system. It’s sort of a lower level of provincial court.”
In the spirit of speeding tickets for drivers, SOTs are given to violators either in person immediately or via mail, only after other tools for ensuring compliance have proved unsuccessful. An officer must evaluate the apparent offence on the ground before he or she issues an SOT.
Ticketed parties can pay fines in person, online or by mail. Those who cannot pay their fines can either work them off or challenge them in court by pleading not guilty and requesting alternate court dates. The fines have been established according to The Summary Offence Procedures Regulations, and victim surcharges have been determined according to section 13 of The Victim’s of Crime Act.
Failure to wear proper PPE is the only offence for which an employee can receive an SOT; for all other oh&s violations, the onus of responsibility is on employers, contractors, owners, self-employed people and/or suppliers. Officers who catch workers without proper PPE must assess whether the workers have access to the PPE, have had training on how to use it and have chosen not to wear it, regardless of their employers’ directions.
“When you really look at the way the legislation is written, the due need to train, the due need to provide PPE, all that generally falls on the immediate employer,” said Anthony, adding that it wouldn’t be sensible to prosecute a worker for lack of PPE if the employer hadn’t provided it.
The ticketing system isn’t a new idea; Ontario and the United States are already using similar programs, while Alberta recently initiated its own SOT system.
Anthony agreed with Morgan that ticketing would help make Saskatchewan workplaces safer. “In certain industries,” he said, “there are a certain number of people that just don’t want to comply, and we need a tool to deal with those.”
Copyright (c) 2014 The Canadian Press