Yes, you can lock your office door. Since your company requires you to work by yourself, it must have a procedure on working alone, according to New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act – Code of Practice for Working Alone. In addition, every employer with 20 or more employees regularly employed must have a joint health and safety committee (JHSC). If your workplace has a JHSC, it must be involved in developing the company’s code of practice for working alone. Our Health and Safety Orientation Guide For Employers has a sample of a working alone policy. You should also raise your concern with the JHSC, if your company has one. You can also find useful information on working alone in the Guide to OHS Legislation.
It is difficult for us to answer whether a company would be liable in the example you provide. You and your employer may want to seek legal advice. However, the employer should give the employee the option of taking a vacation day or making up time lost if the employee chooses not to come to work for safety concerns.
A workplace can be proactive by developing policies and procedures to guide both employees and the employer when situations like this occur. They could include information as to when the office may close (for example, when universities or government offices close or when the Department of Transportation snowplows are removed from service). They could also address available options to employees when the office remains open but local road conditions are too treacherous to travel home, as well as remuneration for lost work days. WorkSafeNB can provide examples of policies to address this matter on request.
Finally, driving in adverse weather conditions may be unavoidable. In this case, you may want to consider supplementary driver training that addresses driving in bad weather. Most driver training schools have specialized programs. A well-maintained vehicle equipped with winter tires will also improve safety in circumstances where driving in poor weather conditions cannot be avoided.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS)requires employers with 20 or more employees “regularly employed” to establish both a JHSC and a written health and safety program in consultation with its JHSC committee or a health and safety representative.
The OHS Act does not refer to volunteers in its definition of employees. However, WorkSafeNB has developed a policy in which volunteers could be considered as employees under certain circumstances.
While the OHS Act does not define “regularly employed,” WorkSafeNB has developed a legal interpretation to help determine whether employees fit this definition. It states a volunteer who works a predictable number of hours each week, every week, is considered “regularly employed.”
Based on this information, if the number of employees and volunteers exceeds 19 at the food bank on any given day, and the volunteers have predictable schedules and conduct activities that would also be carried out by paid staff, then the food bank should have both a JHSC and a health and safety program. If, however, you conclude that the food bank’s volunteers are not employees and are not “regularly employed,” consider that they still have a right to work in a safe and healthy environment.
If your food bank decides to establish a JHSC and a health and safety program, WorkSafeNB has numerous resources to help. Here are some links to get you started:
Employers must have a procedure and training in place for rescuing an employee in an emergency situation. Section 50.3(4) of Regulation 91-191 also requires employers to review annually, or more frequently, the content of the training provided to employees on fall protection. Conducting a mock rescue exercise is not a specific requirement of the legislation, however, it would be a good method of reviewing and assessing the training provided to employees.
Completing the Form 67 is a shared responsibility between the injured worker and their employer. It is the first step in applying for benefits or services for the injured worker and must be done within three days of the fall.
According to Section 8 of the General Regulation 91-191, employers must allow an employee at least one half-hour for food and rest after each five consecutive hours of work. WorkSafeNB has produced an interpretation on this section of the legislation that should provide your employer and co-workers with more information.
New Brunswick does not have legislation that regulates scents in the workplace. However, we recommend you first try to deal with the problem internally. Address the concern first with your human resources department or your safety manager. Secondly, alert your joint health and safety committee, if one exists at your workplace. If you still have no success, WorkSafeNB could get involved once we receive a complaint from the employee experiencing the symptoms. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety also has online resources that address this topic.
Shoes should have well-defined treads with a flexible sole, be flat, marked ‘slip resistant’ and be comfortable. WorkSafeNB has a Hazard Alert for food service employees, which addresses protective clothing for both feet and hands. If you, as an employer, provide shoes to your employees, you should consult them before purchasing.
To help you understand section 8(7) of the first aid regulation, WorkSafeNB has prepared a legal interpretation. It should provide you with the information you need regarding the six hours of practice. Often, the employer covers the cost for course fee and the employee’s time, but this is not a requirement under the regulation.
Under current regulations, a (M)SDS may be made available on a computer. To do so, the employer must take all reasonable steps to keep the terminal in working order and it must be available to employees who may be exposed to the controlled/hazardous product as well as members of the joint health and safety committee, if any, or to the workplace’s health and safety representative. Employees who may be exposed to the controlled/hazardous product must also work near the computer (have easy and quick access) and be provided training for accessing the computer-stored (M)SDS.