Union Must Put Safety Issue to MOL Inspector First: OLRB

The Ontario Labour Relations Board has refused to permit a teachers’ union to expand a safety appeal to several schools where the Ministry of Labour inspector had dealt with the issue at only one school.

The inspector had issued an order at one school, requiring the school board to re-inspect the premises for asbestos.  The teachers’ union asserted that the order was “inadequate”.

The teachers’ union appealed the inspector’s order and asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to require the school board to assess its asbestos-management program at all schools in the board.

The OLRB effectively held that an appeal of an inspector’s order may deal with only the issues already put to the inspector.  The inspector must actually turn his or her mind to the issue and have the opportunity to conduct an inspection, before the union can advance an appeal in respect of that issue. Here, the inspector was involved at only one school, so it was not appropriate to expand the appeal to deal with other schools.

The case is interesting because it indicates that employers can insist that where employees or a union appeal an inspector’s order or refusal to issue an order, the appeal should deal only with issues actually put to the inspector and locations visited by the inspector.

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario v. Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, 2012 CanLII 31549 (O.L.R.B.)

Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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