Board safety officers are appointed under the Workers' Safety and Compensation Act. Their role is to inspect workplaces; issue orders and penalties for contraventions of the Act or regulations; and investigate injuries, fatalities, work refusals, and health and safety complaints.
See sections 59 to 70 of the Act for the complete list of powers of a board safety officer in Yukon workplaces.
Inspections of workplaces by board safety officers take place as follows:
- periodically to ensure compliance with the Act and regulations and to provide feedback on the workplace’s health and safety systems;
- in response to a specific complaint;
- based on factors such as the type of workplace, its size and its past health and safety record.
At an inspection, a safety officer examines the physical condition of the workplace. They are joined by the employer representative and, usually, by either the worker health and safety representative (HSR) or a worker representative of the joint health and safety committee (JHSC).
During an inspection, a safety officer may issue orders to comply with the Act and regulations, and may offer help with compliance, such as information and resources on relevant topics.
Safety officers' orders
When a safety officer issues an order to comply with health and safety law, it is given as a written order with a specified date by which corrective actions must be completed.
If the hazard poses an imminent risk, the safety officer may initially issue a verbal order and later provide the order in writing. Stop-use and stop-work orders are examples when the order is usually issued verbally initially, and later provided in writing. Verbal stop-use and stop-work orders must be complied with immediately. An order can require the employer to submit a plan to the board of when and how they will comply.
A stop-use order prevents the use and supply of equipment at a workplace if the safety officer decides that the equipment
- is not in a safe condition; or
- does not comply with the Act or the regulations.
When there is an imminent risk of serious injury or death at a workplace, the safety officer may make an order:
- to stop those activities;
- to vacate all or part of the workplace;
- to stop those activities from restarting at any of the employer’s workplaces until the safety officer decides the necessary steps have been taken to protect health and safety at the workplace.
If a safety officer makes a stop-work order, no one may ask or allow a worker to enter the area or the workplace that is the subject of the order. The exception is when work is necessary to remedy the stop work order or to protect the health and safety of people at the workplace. If that’s the case, the exception applies only if the worker:
- is protected from risk of injury or death; and
- is qualified and properly instructed in how to do the work with minimum risk to their own health and safety.
Everyone in the workplace must assist a safety officer in their role. It is an offence to interfere with a safety officer doing their job, in any way. This includes giving false information, failing to give required information or interfering with any monitoring equipment left in the workplace.
Before an inspection if formally finished, the employer may discuss the timeframe for compliance with any orders.
An officer has the authority to investigate any situation that the officer considers necessary to enforce the Act and regulations. For example a work refusal that isn’t resolved at the workplace.
After a serious incident involving injury or death, it is the responsibility of an employer to investigate to determine what happened and prevent this incident from happening again. The board may also decide to investigate the matter.