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Chapter 1

MHR 711 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Occupational Safety And Health

Human Resources
Course Code
MHR 711
Gerald Swartz

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MHR711 Chapter 1: Introduction
Workplace Injuries
- Over 1,000 workers die yearly as a result of workplace accidents
- About 308,000 suffer injury serious enough to warrant missing time from work (lost-time injury)
- More than half of workplace fatalities are attributable to occupational diseases
o Example: asbestos effects account for most of these deaths
- Workplace fatalities and injuries are concentrated by industry:
o In Canada construction, manufacturing and transportation are the most dangerous in terms of
o The goal of OH&S Departments is to reduce occupational injury and illness
Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S): the identification, evaluation, and control of hazards associated with
the work environment
- Hazards range from chemical, biological, and physical agents to psychological disorders such as stress
Occupational Injury: any cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation resulting from a workplace accident
Occupational Illness: any abnormal condition or disorder caused by exposure to environmental factors associated
with employment
Lost-Time Injury: a workplace injury that results in the employee missing time from work
Historical Development of Modern OH&S
- Documented cases of occupational illness goes back to Ancient Egypt
o Stonemasons and potters experienced respiratory problems
- Industrial Revolution:
o Brown lung disease caused by excessive inhalation of dust; the disease is in the pneumoconiosis and
often afflicts textile workers
- Late 19th Century in Canada:
o Concerns for OH&S was first evident
o Ontario passed legislation that established safety standards (i.e., machine guarding)
o Quebec followed
- Early 20th Century in Canada:
o Every jurisdiction in Canada passed factory laws to regulate heating, lighting, ventilation, hygiene,
fire safety, and accident reporting
- The decades of 1960s and 1970s saw:
o The implementation of the Canada Labour (Standards) Code, and
o The Canada Labour (Safety Code)
- In 1974 the Ontario government formed the Royal Commission on Health and Safety of Workers in Mines
Royal Commission of Relations of Capital and Labour in Canada (1889) (RCRCLC)
- The commission had an important influence on the development of H&S regulations in Canada
- RCRCLC made several recommendations, including:
o 1. Improving health and safety by establishing standards mandating regular inspections
o 2. System for compensating victims of industrial accidents, regardless of who was at fault
o 3. Labour bureau to be created to oversee these activities
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Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines
- Chaired by Doctor James Ham
- The Ontario government implemented this program in mines
- The fist commission articulate the 3 rights of workers:
o 1. Right to refuse dangerous work without penalty
o 2. Right to participate in identifying and correcting health and safety problems
o 3. Right to know about hazards in the workplace
- These three rights are still enshrined in current legislation and are the basis of OH laws in Canada
- In 1998, legislation was passed that established Workplace Hazard Materials Information System (WHMIS)
o Fundamental right of workers to know about potential hazards in the workplace
o It came about by the cooperation of federal and provincial governments
o WHMIS is in a period of transition between two hazard communication regimes WHMIS 1988
and WHMIS 2015 (which incorporates the GHS)
Changing Perspectives on Risk and Liability
- Until the early 20th century, the dominant model of dealing with workplace hazards was the legal doctrine
of assumption of risk
o “volenti-non-fit injuria” = to him that is willing, no harm or injury is done
o Volenti is a defence in tort that means where a person engages in an event accepting and aware of
the risks inherent in that event, they cannot later complain of, or seek compensation for an injury
suffered during the event
o Associated with the assumption of risk doctrine is the concept of accident proneness
o By assuming the risk of doing something, you are also assuming the responsibility of the risk
Assumption of Risk: the belief that a worker accepted the risks of employment when he or she accepted a job
Accident Proneness: the notion that some individuals are inherently more likely than others to be involved in
accidents, as a result of individual characteristics
The Importance of OH&S
- Modern H&S has moved away from the notion of accident proneness and volenti
o Today, there is the recognition that OH&S requires cooperation among multiple stakeholders and
that all have role to play in enhancing H&S outcome
- Effective OH&S programs have far reaching benefits for everyone employees, employers, government
and the public
- Everyone should care for OH&S for the following reasons/considerations:
o 1. Economic
o 2. Legal
o 3. Moral
Economic Considerations
- Work related injury costs are direct and indirect
o Direct Cost = workers lost time, time spent investigating the incident, finding/training of a
replacement worker
o Indirect Cost = potential increase in Workers Compensation Board assessment, potential finds and
legal costs associated with allowing an unsafe condition in the workplace, strikes, reduced morale
Can be 10 times the direct cost
- Cost of workplace injuries exceed $12 billion a year
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