When a Pool is Just a Pool

The death or critical injury of an employee at a workplace is a serious occurrence, and under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), an employer has an obligation to report such an occurrence to the Ministry of Labour. While the death or critical injury of a non-employee, such as a customer or guest, at a workplace is an equally serious occurrence, there has been some debate as to whether an employer is under the same obligation to report the death or critical injury. Fortunately for employers, a recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal has clarified the obligations of employers under the OHSA when a non-worker dies or is critically injured at their place of business.

In Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd. v. Bok, 2013 ONCA 75, a guest at Blue Mountain Resorts died while swimming in a pool at the resort. The guest either died of a heart attack, or simply drowned while swimming. There were no Blue Mountain employees that were working at the pool at the time the death occurred. An inspector appointed by the Ministry determined that Blue Mountain was obligated to report the death to the Ministry under s. 51(1) of the OHSA. The inspector’s decision was upheld by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Divisional Court.

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