Archive for the ‘WSIB Claims and Appeals’ Category

Again, Winter driving and Employee Safety

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I’m going to say it – I HATE winter driving. So I avoid it whenever possible. Not everyone has that luxury, and work still needs to get done. However, where is the balance between getting to work and being able to arrive safely? How should employers handle employee absenteeism during bad driving advisories?

What should they be thinking about, and communicating to their employees?

I live in the snow belt of ski country. Therefore, I understand when you walk outside to begin your drive to work and find that a foot of snow has fallen overnight. As a consultant, I get the luxury of balancing my workload with winter driving. But what about the poor worker who has not choice but to venture into the sometime gruesome driving conditions?

Depending on where they are, where they are going, and under certain conditions, a vehicle accident MAY in fact become a WSIB claim. If the worker is not driving to their normal work location, but instead is driving to a client location, training seminar, or meeting, an accident can be deemed work-related.

So how should employers handle situations when they know there are bad driving conditions and they have staff who are off-site for various reasons? Yes, the company has paid for the seminar, but in the long run, would it not be prudent to tell the worker to skip it? How much more costly would a WSIB claim be to the company should that worker be injured in an accident?

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Third Party Investigations

Friday, November 26th, 2010

In-House or Third Party Investigations?

The only defence to a Health & Safety complaint is due diligence.  When dealing with issues of workplace violence and harassment, many managers, and even Human Resource professionals, are at a loss on it takes to ensure their company is protected and can prove due diligence.

When the outcome of an investigation seems to clearly demonstrate a violation of the Health & Safety Act of Ontario for harassment or violence, the employer has a clear mandate – correct the inappropriate situation as quickly as possible. Depending on the severity of the incident, this may include termination with cause.

Ideally, the evidence collected during the investigation will prove cause to avoid claims of wrongful dismissal. Of course, this does not prevent a terminated worker or manager from accusing the company of unfair investigation practices, coaching witnesses, or acting against their Human Rights.  What should managers do when the complaint is complicated, involves multiple workers, or regards Human Rights issues? As well, what if the outcome of an investigation is unclear?

Many managers struggle with how to handle complicated complaints. Should they still discipline the party? If so, how far should that discipline go? In these instances, how confident can a company be that their findings and subsequent actions will hold up should legal proceedings ensue?

Knowing when an investigation can be conducted in-house and when it should be conducted by a qualified third party is essential for a successful defence of due diligence. Instances of sexual abuse, claims against managers, or complicated claims involving multiple workers may be better investigated through the use of a third party investigator.

Does your company know how to handle their investigation properly so that the defence of due diligence will protect them from prosecution?

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