A part of establishing due diligence is learning from your mistakes, and in the case of a workplace accident, that requires an understanding of what went wrong - regardless of whether or not the accident itself was reportable to OHS. Most often, companies arrive at that understanding through their investigation into the accident, and the report that inevitably follows.
What many employers don't realize, however, is that in their efforts to identify what went wrong and the various contributing factors, they're in effect documenting their company's various breaches of the OHS legislation. While that in and of itself may not seem problematic, the fact is that such a report may very well end up in the hands of OHS officers, and be used as evidence (or a means to gather other evidence) against the company in future proceedings. In fact, we recently dealt with a situation where an OHS officer asked for 2 years of such accident investigation reports, despite the fact that they had nothing to do with the accident in question!
As an employer, when you experience a workplace accident you're not sure what may come of it. And that's why your investigation and subsequent report shouldn't just focus on what went wrong, but also on what potential exposure your company may face legally. When you shift your thinking, and prepare your investigation materials and report for the purposes of the latter with the assistance and/or at the direction of legal counsel, it's protected by something known as "legal privilege". That means that it won't end up in the hands of OHS officers without your consent, and that you can identify where you went wrong, the various contributing factors, and even where you stepped offside of the OHS legislation, all with the confidence that it will never be used against you!
Start protecting your accident investigation reports with legal privilege today. For further details, contact our Edmonton (1.780.720.1586) or Calgary (1.403.456.5835) office.