Category Archives: Legislation

Alberta introduces bill on gas prepayment

EDMONTON — A bill that would enhance protection for fuel and convenience-store employees is one step closer to reality, as Alberta mulls proposed legislation requiring violence-prevention plans and pre-payment for fuel at gas stations across the province.
According to a statement issued by the Alberta goverment on October 30, the province’s Minister of Labour Christina Gray met Lawrence Richler, vice-president of Canadian Products Marketing with Husky Energy Inc. at the Brookview Husky in Edmonton to discuss measures to improve worker safety at fueling stations. If the proposed legislation is passed, An Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Code to include mandatory pre-payment for fuel and violence-prevention plans at retail fuel and convenience stores. The new measures are expected to take effect on June 1, 2018.
Over the past three years, “gas-and-dash” incidents at both urban and rural locations in the province have resulted in five worker deaths and serious injuries to three other workers. The rates of fuel theft incidents reported to police rose between 2011 and 2015. The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police estimates that there were more than 4,000 incidents across the province in 2015, averaging 12 fuel thefts per day.
“As Albertans, our hearts break when we see incidents of violence involving workers. That is why we are taking action to increase safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers,” Minister Gray says in a statement.
Where pay-at-the-pump technology is not available, retailers can institute other options, such as requiring customers to deposit cash or a credit card with the cashier before fueling begins. Several fuel retailers in Alberta have already established, or are working to establish, mandatory fuel pre-payment polices.
“Pre-payment eliminates the risks associated with fuel payments, and we applaud the government for taking this important step to protect attendants and the public,” Richler says.
Doug Rosencrans, vice-president and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada, says he believes that pre-payment of fuel purchases will improve employee and public safety in Alberta. “For many years, 7-Eleven Canada has run an employee-safety program similar to the safety plan announced today.”
Alberta’s oh&s legislation requires employers to take all reasonable steps to protect worker health and safety. Proposed violence-prevention plans, which would help employers reduce the potential for violence through physical and procedural control measures, include safe cash-handling procedures.
For retail workplaces that are open to the public between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., time-lock safes that cannot be opened during those hours are required. Employers should also limit the quantities of certain items, such as cash, lottery tickets and tobacco, available during those hours. Other measures include visible signs indicating to the public that the retailer uses time-lock safes, equipping lone employees with personal emergency transmitters and providing worker training in all aspects of the violence-prevention plan, the statement notes.

TSB investigating collision between drone and passenger plane

Following a mid-air collision between an unmanned aerial vehicle and a passenger plane – the first such incident recorded in Canada – near Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport on Oct. 12, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has launched an investigation.

The aircraft, a Skyjet Beech King Air A100, was arriving at the airport from Rouyn-Noranda, Que. that day while carrying two crew members and six passengers, according to an investigation page on the TSB website. After the plane passed the final approach fix, the crew noticed the drone near the left wing; the drone hit the plane at about 450 metres above the ground, causing scratches, scrapes and some paint transfer.

The crew declared an emergency, but no one was injured and the aircraft landed safely, the TSB noted.

In an Oct. 15 press statement, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau expressed relief that the collision had resulted in nothing more than minor damage to the plane. He noted that Transport Canada (TC) was monitoring the situation.

“Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown,” said Garneau.

“I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offence. Anyone who violates the [Canadian Aviation Regulations] could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison. This applies to drones of any size, used for any purpose.”

TC had received 1,596 reports of drone incidents to date in 2017, 131 of which had been “of aviation safety concern,” Garneau added.

The TSB announced its investigation in a deployment notice on Oct. 17. Leading the probe is Kristina Schoos, who has more than 15 years of experience as a helicopter pilot. “In the course of her career, she has been responsible for flight and ground training and worked as assistant chief pilot,” the TSB stated about Schoos.

International drone manufacturer DJI, whose North American headquarters are in Los Angeles, said in an Oct. 17 statement that it was unaware whether any of its products had been involved in the incident, but that the company was “ready to assist Canadian aviation authorities” if needed.

“DJI drones are programmed by default to fly no higher than 120 metres, and the Quebec City airport is restricted in DJI’s geofencing system,” the statement added.

According to TC’s interim measures, it is illegal to fly any recreational drone less than 5.5 kilometres away from an airport without authorization. Final regulations on recreational drones are still being developed.

New Brunswick working on regulations on workplace violence

MONCTON, N.B. – The government of New Brunswick aims to have new regulations on workplace violence in place before April 28, the next National Day of Mourning, according to an Oct. 18 news release from the province’s Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. To do so, the Department has put together a steering committee of stakeholders, including government and labour representatives, to tackle the issues of violence, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and other worker priorities. “Your government is committed to ensuring that all New Brunswickers can work in healthy, respectful and inclusive workplaces,” Gilles LePage, the province’s Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister, said in a press statement. “Education and awareness are crucial, and we will continue to educate the public, workers and employers on the importance of creating safe and healthy workplaces.” New Brunswick Nurses’ Union president Paula Doucet said in a statement that she was “pleased” with the Department’s commitment to the violence problem. The regulations will be applicable to all industries in the province, the release noted.

Man fined $1,000 for letting himself, others work on roof without fall-arrest gear

YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. – A Northwest Territories man has been fined $1,000 after being convicted under the territorial Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for allowing himself, his wife and a friend to work on a roof without fall-protection equipment last year. According to a media release from the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC), Paul Curren and the other two individuals were working on the roof of a home he was building for his family on July 16, 2016; according to the definition under the N.W.T. Safety Act, Curren was acting as an employer and was therefore required to comply with oh&s law. He later pleaded guilty in the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife to failing to ensure that employees were using a fall-protection system where they could fall at least three metres; other charges were dropped, and Curren was sentenced on Oct. 11 of this year. “It is important to note that a homeowner who has friends, family members or others performing work in or on the home may be an employer under the Safety Act and is required to ensure safe work and compliance with the legislation,” the WSCC stated in the release.

Labour federation demands more application of Westray Law in N.S.

HALIFAX, N.S. – The president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) is speaking out about the lack of criminal investigations of workplace fatalities in the province. According to a Sept. 29 press release from the Federation, recent occupational deaths have failed to spur application of the Westray Law, a provision in the federal Criminal Code that imposes an obligation pursue criminal charges against employers in such incidents. “In the past 13 years, only four employers have been prosecuted under the Westray Law,” NSFL president Danny Cavanagh said in a media statement. “We believe that this lack of enforcement is costing lives, and too many workplace fatalities are never properly investigated, and only a handful have resulted in criminal charges.” Cavanagh urged employer organizations in Nova Scotia to work with the NSFL to ensure that police investigation workplace fatalities and lay criminal charges when warranted. “When criminal negligence results in a worker’s death, it is a crime and should be treated that way.”

Safety amendment violates rail workers’ privacy rights: Unifor

Canada’s largest private-sector union is warning that a recent amendment to the Canada Transportation Act, which would make locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVR) mandatory on trains, would be a violation of rail employees’ privacy rights and would not improve safety as intended.

A Sept. 11 media release from Unifor charged that Bill C-49, also known as the Transportation Modernization Act, would “constitute a landmark privacy violation.” The union added that the federal government had not provided sufficient evidence that LVVRs would improve upon the black-box data recorders that the rail sector currently uses.

“Recording workers on the job is not a safety tool, it is a surveillance tool,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a press statement. “Managerial digital surveillance in the transportation industry is a dangerous precedent that will eventually spread to other sectors.

“This cannot become the government standard.”

Unifor rail director Bruce Snow said in his own statement that video and audio surveillance on trains would be “an invasive and unnecessary distraction” that might increase the stress and harm the performance of railway employees.

“Our members work onboard, so they have a unique and personal investment in railway safety,” said Snow. “But federal legislation must not furnish employers with surveillance powers outside the scope of public safety.”

Sponsored by federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Bill C-49 passed its second reading in the House of Commons on June 19. The proposed law “amends the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act to allow the use or communication of an onboard recording… if that use or communication is expressly authorized under the Aeronautics Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Railway Safety Act or the Canada Shipping Act, 2001,” the bill read.

Last year, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) published a report, Expanding the use of locomotive voice and video recorders in Canada, which concluded that the use of LVVRs on trains could potentially enhance rail safety and investigations of railway accidents. Involving numerous stakeholders in the industry, the study deemed that LVVR recordings would provide valuable information to TSB investigators, as well as help to prevent accidents by identifying and mitigating risks (COHSN, Sept. 20).

Unifor representatives met with senior Transport Canada officials on Sept. 5 to discuss the bill, according to the release. The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities began hearings on Bill C-49 on Sept. 11.

Unifor represents more than 315,000 workers in every major industry across Canada.

Pilot associations, unions demand stronger regulations on fatigue

Transport Canada (TC) has proposed updates to its fatigue-management regulations for flight crews, but stakeholder unions are saying that the changes are not enough – that they do not comply with established science on pilot fatigue.

Safer Skies, a coalition that includes the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA), Unifor, Teamsters Canada and other groups, ran an online petition to Transport Minister Marc Garneau from April to August. Sponsored by John Brassard, the Conservative MP for Barrie-Innisfil, Ont., the petition demanded the following:

  • the same protective fatigue limits for pilots of all sizes of aircraft;
  • a limitation of ten hours, or 8.5 hours of flight time, on pilot duty periods that begin after 5 p.m.; and
  • reliance of fatigue-risk management systems on science-based prescriptive limits.

The petition had collected 9,104 signatures nationwide at the time of its close on Aug. 26.

The ACPA did not respond to COHSN’s request for comment, but an Aug. 22 media release quoted CEO Milt Isaacs as saying that Canada’s aviation regulations were “out of step” with what scientific research recommends.

“Canada has an opportunity to ensure safer skies – but risks squandering it by disregarding sleep science and international standards,” said Isaacs. “Canadian pilots are asking for help – on behalf of their passengers and crew – to ensure that Canada is a leader and not a laggard in aviation-fatigue science.”

Captain Dan Adamus, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l Canada, said in a press statement that Canadian pilots get less time to recover from long hours of flight time than pilots have in any other country.

“Even the updated regulations do not go far enough,” said Captain Adamus.

In an e-mailed response, TC media-relations representative Pierre Manoni told COHSN that the regulation amendments, first proposed in July, include the following: prohibition of flight-crew members from working within 12 hours of drinking alcohol, an increase from eight hours; new, science-based rules on fatigue management regarding flight-time and work-hour limitations; flight-duty period limitations based on time of day, rest duration and time off; and requirements for a fatigue risk-management system.

“The new rules aim to reduce flight-crew member fatigue and align with today’s scientific data, international standards and best practices,” wrote Manoni. “[TC] is always looking for ways to increase aviation safety and harmonize its regulations with other countries.”

He added that the regulation changes were based on three years of consultations with stakeholders, including industry associations and labour organizations. “Unions and the National Airlines Council of Canada were generally supportive,” said Manoni.

But the ACPA release maintained that Canada needs to make further changes urgently, before a tragedy occurs. The association cited the Colgan Air accident in Buffalo in 2009, after which the United States Federal Aviation Administration revised its regulations; as a result, pilot augmentation is now mandatory after eight hours of flight time for departures after 8 p.m. in the U.S.

“Unlike a tired driver, a pilot can’t pull over to the side of the road,” the release stated. “NASA research recommends a maximum flight time at night of 8.5 hours, as alertness, response time and cognitive performance is degraded.

“Fatigue is especially prevalent on long-haul overnight flights, but it can be mitigated with… adequate rest, sufficient recovery time after crossing time zones and ensuring additional pilots are on board to take over the controls.”

Manoni said that once the proposed changes go into effect, airline operators will have a year to comply with them, while air-taxi and commuter operators will have four years.

“Transport Canada recognizes that fatigue management is a complex issue,” he wrote. “Canadians and industry members are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft regulations.”

Alberta launches review of its occupational health and safety system

EDMONTON, Alta. – The Government of Alberta has announced that it is conducting a review of the province’s workplace health and safety system, to make sure that employers and workers understand their roles and responsibilities. The review will examine the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act, which has not undergone any major changes since 1976, according to an announcement on the government’s website. The process will consist of an online survey and roundtable sessions with employers, workers, academics and oh&s associations. Issues examined will include compliance, enforcement, education, engagement and prevention. “All workers deserve healthy and safe workplaces from their first shift through to retirement,” provincial Labour Minister Christina Gray said in a press statement. “Alberta workplaces… have changed significantly during the past 40 years. We need to make sure the province’s laws and best practices are helping keep Albertans safe.” The public is invited to complete the online survey at or to submit comments to by Oct. 16.

New coal mine receives multiple safety orders and warnings

Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education has issued ten safety orders and 29 warnings to the Donkin underground coal mine, which opened in February – but none of the Cape Breton Island mine’s violations have put workers’ lives at risk, a Department representative has stressed.

While a CBC News report from Aug. 4 stated that the orders and warnings had stemmed from six Department inspections between Feb. 27 and June 15, Scott Nauss, the Department’s senior director of inspection and compliance, has since clarified that the violations were “no surprise,” given that the Donkin mine is relatively new and that safety regulations have changed substantially.

“This is the first mine in Nova Scotia under our new underground coal-mining regulations,” Nauss told COHSN. “Coal mining is a high-risk industry, and the province of Nova Scotia takes coal-mining safety very seriously, and it’s probably the most regulated work environment in the province.”

Nauss added that some of the mine’s infractions had been connected to training and documentation, as well as accessibility to emergency equipment, lack of approval for a piece of electrical equipment and the presence of water in emergency-exit routes.

“I wouldn’t call these issues minor, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that employees’ lives are at risk either,” he said.

Kameron Collieries, the Halifax-based entity that runs the mine, declined COHSN’s request for an interview. Kameron is a subsidiary of The Cline Group, an international mining corporation with its headquarters in Toronto.

Nauss explained that Nova Scotia had revised its safety regulations for underground coal mining following the Westray Mine disaster in May 1992, in which 26 miners were killed in a methane explosion. By the time the revamped regulations were enacted, there were no longer any active coal mines in the province.

“It’s been 15 or 20 years since there’s been a coal mine in Nova Scotia,” he said, “so it’s fair to say that you can’t even really compare the old coal-mining regulations to a mine that’s in operation today, because the technology’s just changed so much over the last 20 years.”

Nauss described the mine as being “very cooperative” with the Department up to now.

“Anytime we’ve issued an order,” he said, “the company has always complied with the order prior to its due date. And there are no outstanding compliance orders in the mine as of right now.”

Coal mining in the Donkin region began in the 1860s, only to cease after a miners’ strike in 1925, after which the workers moved to mines in other areas. Mining in Donkin started up again during the 1990s, but shut down not long after the Westray disaster.

“Coal mining is a high-risk work environment, maybe one of the highest-risk in the province,” said Nauss. “So this mine is being inspected more frequently than any workplace in Nova Scotia, and we, the government, are taking the safety very seriously, as is the company, as are the employees.”

The village of Donkin is located on the coast of Cape Breton Island, more than 30 kilometres east of Sydney. As of 2011, it had a population of 573, according to Statistics Canada.

Amendments about oil piping systems go into effect in B.C.

VICTORIA, B.C. – New amendments to Part 23 of the British Columbia Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR), regarding safety risks in oil and gas flow piping systems, went into effect on Aug. 1. According to a news release from WorkSafeBC, the province’s occupational health and safety authority, the organization’s board of directors approved the amendments at a meeting in March. The changes to the Regulation involve requirements for integrity-assurance programs and pipe restraints. “Due to advancing technologies, the operating pressures of flow piping systems are now far greater than the pressures when the current OHSR requirements were developed,” WorkSafeBC stated. “Serious injuries can occur to workers when flow piping systems fail and the component parts are not restrained properly.” The amendments also aim to align regulations with current best practices in the oil and gas sector, the release added.