By Clarence Bennett
On June 1, 2014, significant amendments to the New Brunswick Occupational Health and Safety Act came into force.
Employers who employ more than 20 employees throughout New Brunswick (as opposed to a single workplace) will be required to establish a written safety policy setting out the responsibilities of the employer and its employees.?? Employers will have to consult with their employees when establishing and implementing this policy and while they won't have to file their safety policy with the New Brunswick Occupational Health and Safety Commission anymore, a copy of their policy must be available for inspection by an occupational health and safety officer at each place of employment.
Employers who employ more than 20 employees throughout New Brunswick will be required to develop, execute and annually review and update, a written health and safety program. ??A health and safety committee or representative must be appointed (if not already done so) for the employer to consult with when establishing and reviewing this program. If requested, employers must provide a copy of the program to this committee or representative and to employees at the place of employment or the commission.
These programs must include, but are not limited to, provisions respecting the following matters:?
• health and safety training and supervision of employees
• preparation of written work procedures and codes of practice for the implementation of health and safety work practice as prescribed within the NB OHS act and regulations
• identifying the types of work for which work safety procedures should be implemented, including a hazard identification system which should identify potential hazards and establish protocols for the inspection of potential hazards, timely reporting of hazards by employees and prompt followup and control.
• a system for the investigation of hazardous occurrences that determines the cause of a hazardous occurrence and identifies strategies to prevent recurrences
• a record management system that includes reports of employee training, accident statistics, work procedures, health and safety inspections, maintenance, followup and investigations
• monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the program.
?New employees are now required to receive the relevant orientation and training specific to their position or place of employment before beginning work. However, if the employee can provide documented evidence of prior satisfactory training, an employer may only be required to provide orientation.
A new employee will include: those who hold a new position; are new to the place of employment; are returning to a position or place of employment in which the hazards have changed; are under 25 years old and returning to a position or place of employment after an absence of six months; are affected by a change in hazards of a position or place of employment.
?Employers will be required to keep records of the orientation and training of new employees for a minimum of three years and orientation must include:?
• the name and contact information of the employee's supervisor
• the contact information of the employer's health and safety committee or representative
• any rights, liabilities, and duties of an employee as stipulated within the N.B. OHS act or its regulations, including reporting requirements and the right to refuse to perform an act
• health and safety procedures and codes of practice related to the new employee's job tasks
• first-aid facility locations and how to obtain first aid
• procedures related to reporting illness and injuries
• the use of personal protective equipment, if applicable.
Employers will no longer be required to ensure that employees comply with the N.B. OHS act, but will now be required to provide: the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure an employee's health and safety.
Occupational health and safety officers will have the power to require an employer to submit a written report outlining the employer's steps of compliance with any order made by that officer. Such reports will be required within a timeframe set by that officer and must be signed by a member of the health and safety committee or representative.
The scenarios in which employers must immediately notify the commission will include instances where an injury results in: a loss of consciousness, amputation, a fracture to any part of the body except fingers or toes, a burn that requires medical attention, a loss of vision, a deep laceration, admission to hospital as an in-patient or death.
Employers will also have to inform the commission if a catastrophic event or a catastrophic equipment failure occurs that either results, or could have resulted, in an injury.?