Sleep Country Canada failed as an employer under section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act

Section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act is most often the section under which courts charge employers for OHS offences. Here’s what section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act requires:

“The employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the given circumstances for the protection of a worker”

Sleep Country Canada failed as an employer under section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act

Sleep Country Canada failed as an employer under section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act

Background into what happened on January 21, 2016

Courts fined the mattress retailer Sleep Country Canada Inc. (Sleep Country) $60,000. This was after a worker got critically injured in traffic while completing a delivery in north Toronto. A worker of Sleep Country along with a co-worker was making an evening delivery on January 21, 2016. The worker was making the delivery at an apartment building located south of Finch Avenue West near Weston Road.

Moreover, Finch Avenue West at that location comprises two eastbound lanes. Further, it has two westbound lanes and a center lane, used as a two-way left turn lane. The co-worker was driving a Sleep Country 5-ton straight truck. Furthermore, he needed to reverse out of the building’s driveway. He needed to do so for leading onto Finch Avenue West eastbound to return to the company’s distribution center.

The delivery helper stood across the street on the furthest eastbound lane of Finch Avenue. This was largely to stop the traffic and help the truck back out onto Finch. In fact, the co-worker driving the truck did not have the view of the passing traffic. Therefore, the delivery helper had to help the co-worker in the manner stated above. However, in the process, an ongoing vehicle approaching eastbound, struck the delivery helper. Consequently, the delivery worker suffered broken bones and other critical injuries.

What did Sleep Country Canada do, which made them violate section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act?

It was dark when the incident happened. Moreover, the delivery helper was wearing a black-and-grey Sleep Country spring uniform jacket and black pants. Further, he was not wearing any high visibility safety vest or apparel. In fact, the vehicle driver said he could not see the helper on the roadway.

Section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act clearly requires an employer to take all reasonable precautions in the given circumstances to protect a worker. Therefore, Sleep Country clearly failed as an employer to comply with this major requirement. Sleep Country failed to take all the reasonable precautions of ensuring that:

  • It provides those workers required to direct vehicular traffic with high visibility safety vests/apparel
  • This is contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the OHS Act. Further, it is also an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the OHS Act. (Source: MOL Court Bulletins)

Thus, Sleep Country pleaded guilty and the courts imposed a fine $60,000 on the company. Furthermore, the courts also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge, which is a requirement of the Provincial Offences Act.

How can an online safety management system help?

One of the major requirements for creating a strong safety culture is to ensure that it is not dependent on individuals. Adopting an online safety management system is a good step in this regard. In fact, an online safety training and management system such as 4SafeCom™ will make your program come alive. Following are some of the major advantages of having an online safety management system such as 4SafeCom™:

Get all your employees to review and acknowledge your policies and procedures

Most companies have well-defined policies and procedures. However, is just having them good enough? In fact, communicating your policies and procedures to all your employees is crucial. This is where an online safety management system such as 4SafeCom™ comes in handy. It will help you in ensuring two vital aspects of OHS due diligence:

  • All your employees review and acknowledge your company’s policies and procedures
  • You have documental evidence of the communication between you and your employees

Therefore, the system helps you in create, manage, and prove OHS due diligence easily and effectively.

In case of Sleep Country, the delivery helper may not have stepped onto the road without taking proper safety measures if:

  • The company would have created and communicated specific safe operating procedures (SOPs) to the worker
  • The worker would have worn a high visibility safety vest/apparel before steeping onto a road

From an employer’s view point:

  • The employer could have got the delivery worker’s time-stamped acknowledgement that he reviewed the procedures
  • This becomes a crucial OHS due diligence document for the employer
  • Moreover, since the delivery worker is more aware of the delivery SOPs, chances of such incidents get reduced appreciably

An online system such as 4SafeCom™ helps an employer build a safety culture that does not depend on individuals. In fact, higher awareness of policies and procedures for the employees helps improve the overall workplace safety awareness.

If the delivery worker had access to an online safety management system:

  • The delivery worker would have clearly known delivery SOPs
  • Thus, the worker would not have stepped onto the road without a high visibility vest

Employers can also use the 4SafeCom™ system to do the following:

  • Making workers complete site-specific orientation
  • Getting workers to complete 4 mandatory OHS trainings online
  • Reviewing and monitoring employees’ training records and setting up training expiry notifications
  • Conducting online workplace inspections and tracking progress of key action items
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