The Ontario Labour Relations Board has stated that Ministry of Labour inspectors have the power to require employers to provide documents to the MOL, even where the inspector has not found any contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In the case in issue, the OLRB decided that a municipal fire service must give the MOL certain documents that an MOL inspector Ordered the fire service to provide.
The MOL received an anonymous complaint naming the fire service and raising concerns about training programs available to firefighters. An MOL inspector visited the fire service and issued a “requirement” Order to provide certain documents including training records for the last two years for firefighters; standard operating guidelines and procedures; a training program flow chart; the professional development program; a report showing what training firefighters get before and after they are hired; and the post-incident analysis and review for all incidents in the past six months.
The fire service provided the training records and standard operating guidelines and procedures but did not provide the other documents. It appealed the MOL inspector’s Order to the OLRB and asked the OLRB to suspend the Order pending the result of the appeal. It made a number of arguments including that the documents already provided to the MOL contained sufficient information for the inspector to assess the training complaint, and that some of the documents related to labour relations and not safety.
The OLRB refused to suspend the inspector’s Order to produce the documents, stating that section 54(1)(c) of the OHSA provides inspectors with broad rights to require the production of any number of documents, even without the inspector having found that the employer contravened the OHSA or regulations. Also, the OLRB could not at this point determine whether suspending the Order would put any workers at risk. As such, the inspector’s Order was not suspended and remained in effect.
The Corporation of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent v A Director under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2017 CanLII 74130 (ON LRB)