We don’t often hear of Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against suppliers alleging that their machines or equipment were unsafe for use in workplaces.
In a recent case, Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against a supplier, alleging that a machine that it supplied did not comply with the guarding requirements of that Act, were permitted to proceed to trial before a Saskatchewan court.
The Saskatchewan OHSA, in section 8(a)(ii), imposes a duty on every “supplier” to ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that any “plant” supplied by the supplier for use at any place of employment complies with the regulations under the OHSA. “Plant” is defined to include “equipment”.
A regulation under the Saskatchewan OHSA required that, “Where a worker is required to feed material into a material-forming press, punch, shear or similar machine, an employer or supplier shall” install safeguards to prevent the worker from contacting moving parts.
The supplier argued that the the grain extractor was not a material-forming press, punch, shear or similar machine, nor was a worker required to “feed material” into the grain extractor. Rather, according to the supplier, the grain extractor was a moving shaft that attached to a grain bag. The court, however, stated that “No evidence was presented on this point”, and that the issue was better left to the trial judge.
This decision illustrates that suppliers – and not only employers and constructors – can have duties under occupational health and safety legislation – duties that can lead to charges and significant fines if breached.
Subsection 31(1) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act also places duties on a supplier who “supplies any machine, device, tool or equipment under any rental, leasing or similar arrangement for use in or about a workplace”.
R v Flaman Sales Ltd, 2012 SKPC 170 (CanLII)