There are some differences in the legal tests applied to companies and individuals facing OH&S charges, says Michael Fortier in OHS Canada

Long Story Short

March 01, 2011

A professional engineer facing a charge under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act came out on top during a recent showdown between individual rights and the public interest.

The charge against Wayne Vollick alleged he had provided negligent or incompetent advice or certification, as an engineer, for equipment that endangered a worker.

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While firms facing occupational health & safety charges must be tried within a reasonable time, there are some differences in the legal tests applied, says Michael Fortier. "This is because two of the right's purposes – to minimize the time spent by an accused in pre-trial custody and to minimize the anxiety experienced by the accused – apply only to individuals," he explains.

"As a result, it is possible that, even though both an accused individual and company experience the same delay to be tried, only the charges against the individual will be stayed."

Michael says that the Vollick case "emphasizes the importance of requiring the Crown to provide all disclosure to which the accused is entitled." This is "fundamental" for individuals and companies to understand cases against them, he adds.

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