Why? Because It Has Consequences Beyond Just the Obvious Ones!

When you receive a Contact Report (with a Stop Work Order, Compliance Order, or otherwise), the interaction and file number assigned to that particular Contact Report and Order(s) will form part of your internal record at Alberta OH&S, where they may be used to justify administrative penalties and/or stronger enforcement measures in the future (i.e. see “How Penalties Are Determined” at https://www.alberta.ca/ohs-administrative-penalties.aspx).

The details are also posted publicly, and available online at: https://work.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety/employer-records-search.asp.

What you may not know, however, is that OH&S is also in the practice of using those very same Contact Reports and Orders as the foundation necessary for an officer to form the opinion that there is a “danger to the health and safety” of workers at your work sites more generally, so as to justify the issuance of province-wide stop work orders and other province-wide measures. The rationale, it would appear, is that despite those underlying Orders having been complied and cleared by the issuing OH&S officers (who of course, would not do so if of the opinion there were in fact a continuing danger), if an employer (or even prime contractor, in our experience) receives some threshold number of Contact Reports and Orders over some indeterminate period of time, that in and of itself is indicative of a dangerous condition!

Ok. So How? It Seems Simple. But Appearances Can Be Deceiving.

Appealing an OH&S Order (or requesting a “Director Review”, as the case may be) is a seemingly straightforward process. You fill out a form (available online) explaining your reasons for the appeal, and then, depending on the type of Order that you’re appealing, serve it on either a Director of Inspection or the Labour Relations Board.

The real challenge, and where many employers come up short, is in establishing proper grounds for the appeal, and making a compelling argument. Many employers simply set out an alternative version of the facts that gave rise to the Order, thinking that’s enough. Oftentimes it isn’t. And if you, as an employer, are only taking issue with the facts, you’re missing out on a whole host of legal issues and arguments that are key to the analysis, and may ultimately prove determinative.

And…Who? F2 Legal Counsel. A.K.A., Your Ace in the Hole.

OH&S officers aren’t always perfect. Neither are their Orders. We’ve been successful in having Orders rescinded in many cases owing to deficiencies, concerns over fairness and reasonableness, and problems with the authority, discretion, and/or jurisdiction of the issuing OH&S officer. Contact us today at 1-780-720-1586 (Edmonton & Northern Alberta) or 1-403-456-5835 (Calgary & Southern Alberta), and let our experience benefit you.

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