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Oct 3, 2017

Criminalization of Health and Safety for Organizations

On May 9, 1992 an explosion at the Westray Mining site in Nova Scotia killed 26 miners. Charges were subsequently laid against the company and the two mine managers and after five years in the Courts, proceedings were terminated. Throughout this period governments were struggling with a way to modernize some of the Criminal Code definitions and to codify rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations.

As a result, on April 1, 2004 amendments were implemented to the Criminal Code (a federal statute) whereby there now is a legal duty to ensure the safety of workers and the general public. Known as "Bill C-45" this law effectively brings into the Criminal Code occupational health and safety obligations and violations.

The legislation changes the Criminal Code to say that "everyone" (in addition to an individual) may be an "organization". It then defines "organization" to not just be an incorporated entity but to include a firm, partnership, trade union or municipality or an association of persons that is created for a common purpose, has an operational structure and holds itself out to the public as an association of persons.

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Criminalization of Health and Safety for Organizations

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.