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Workplace safety’s criminal twist

By Mari-Len De Guzman

Issues of health and safety are becoming top concerns for businesses. While workplace safety has traditionally been a matter for occupational health and safety regulatory enforcement, on March 31, 2004, as a result of Bill C-45, safety at the workplace became a matter for criminal enforcement as well. 

Bill C-45 amended the Criminal Code to impose a new duty onorganizations and corporations to ensure workplace health and safety. This newduty, which is contained in the criminal negligence provisions of the CriminalCode under s. 217.1, requires that “everyone who undertakes, or has theauthority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under alegal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, orany other person, arising from that work or task”. The word “everyone” includesindividuals, organizations, and corporations. Should a workplace accidentoccur, the amendments made by Bill C-45 have made it possible for a corporation(or its supervisors or representatives) to be charged with criminal negligence.

Beyond reasonable doubt

Mari-Len De Guzman

Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and
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