WorkSafeBC Safety Investigations Could Compromise Charter Protections

Media outlets are reporting that the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch is declining to pursue charges against the Burns Lake Sawmill owner following a workplace explosion two years ago that resulted in the deaths of two workers.  Crown counsel cited the inadmissibility of significant portions of the investigation report prepared by WorkSafeBC after the incident, based on the likelihood of Charter-rights violations.  Crown counsel concluded that certain evidence collected by WorkSafeBC would likely be found inadmissible, and result in the charges being dismissed.  Crown counsel's concerns stemmed from the lack of search warrants and the failure to instruct a company official of the right to remain silent when questioned.

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In response, WorkSafeBC has pledged to review its investigatory procedures, and is considering the implementation of a parallel investigative procedure in cases where there is potential for criminal prosecution.

See more here.

This is an important development for employers and employees who may unknowingly be subject to criminal prosecution as a result of a WorkSafeBC safety inspection.  In these circumstances, it is only right that employers and employees have the same Charter protections as in any other criminal or quasi-criminal case.

We will be sure to keep you up-to-date concerning WorkSafeBC’s revised investigation procedures.




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