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What is Bill C-45?

Why was Bill C-45 created?

Bill C-45 is legislation that became law in 2004.  This bill was enacted as a result of the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster in which 26 miners were killed in an explosion.  There were numerous safety infractions in which the workers, supervisors and mine managers were aware.  These concerns were brought forth to management by workers, union representatives and even government officials.  There were no corrective actions taken.  There was an attempt to hold the managers criminally responsible but due to the unlikelihood of a conviction, the charges were dropped.

What is Bill C-45?

The bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada that provides guidelines that ensure organizations are held responsible for the safety of their workforce.  Occupational Health & Safety Legislation states that employers must do everything ‘reasonably and practicable’ to protect the safety of their workers.  It’s imperative that organizations are due diligent in providing safety guidelines, training, tools and equipment to safely execute their work.  Not only to avoid prosecution but most importantly to protect the Health and Safety of their workers.

Has anyone ever been charged under Bill C-45?

There have been numerous charges laid against organizations that have killed and gravely injured workers.  The most recent conviction of a supervisor is one of the most serious to date.

On Christmas Eve 2009, four men died while working on a Toronto high-rise for Metron Construction.  The swing stage the men were working on split in half causing them to fall 13 storeys to their death, another man was seriously injured.  The only worker unharmed in the incident was the one who was wearing a fall arrest harness secured to the lifeline.  There was a sense of urgency to complete the job and therefore the supervisor made the conscious decision to allow the workers to forego wearing the required fall arrest equipment.  The Ontario Ministry of Labour laid a total of 61 charges including Criminal Negligence.  Initial fines were laid but an Appeal court later tripled those fines totally $750,000 for Criminal Negligence and a victim surcharge totalling $135,000.  The supervisor was charged with four counts of criminal negligence and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.

What does this all mean?

It’s important that every company owner and anyone that directs work become educated on applicable Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.  Hiring employees means taking on the responsibility for their safety while executing work for your organization.  Companies are responsible for implementing a Health & Safety Program, training their workers, providing and executing a hazard assessment program, providing the proper personal protective equipment and tools and ensuring compliance with the program.  While this can seem almost impossible for someone not educated in Occupational Health and Safety, it’s what we do!  If you do not have a health and safety advisor, can help.  You can learn more about a membership HERE

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