Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has opened a consultation regarding its plans for supporting people who suffer from work-related chronic mental stress. The WSIB developed a draft policy to support legislation (Bill 127) passed by the Ontario government on May 17, 2017 as part of its 2017 Budget that allows compensation for work-related chronic mental stress. Work-related chronic mental stress is caused by a substantial work-related stressor or series of stressors. A work-related stressor would generally be considered substantial if it is excessive in intensity and/or duration compared with the normal pressures and tensions experienced by workers in similar circumstances. For example, work-related chronic mental stress could be the result of being subjected to harassment or bullying. Comments were due by July 7, 2017.
On June 28, 2017, the Maltese Presidency and the European Parliament created a provisional agreement on a directive to protect workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens in the workplace. Under the proposed directive, limits would be set for carcinogens and mutagens to tackle the primary cause of work-related deaths in the EU. The goal of the directive is to save approximately 100,000 lives over the next 50 years. Specifically, the provisional agreement outlines elements for the directive to target, including: reprotoxic substances, chromium VI, hardwood dust, respiratory crystalline silica dust, and health surveillance. Exposure limits will also be set on 11 additional carcinogens, including: respirable crystalline silica dust, 1,2-Epoxypropane, 1,3-Butadiene, 2-Nitropropane, acrylamide, certain chromium (VI) compounds, ethylene oxide, o-toluidine, refractory ceramic fibers, Bromoethylene and Hydrazine. Once the provisional agreement is officially approved by the European Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee, the new directive must be formally adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.
New Zealand’s Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 have been published. These Regulations provide provisions on hazardous substances with regard to the following:
The Regulations will come into force on various dates between September 1, 2017, and December 1, 2019.
On June 22, 2017, the Mexican Government published the Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-005-STPS-2017, on the Handing of Hazardous Chemicals or their Mixtures in Workplaces – Safety and Health Conditions and Procedures. The purpose of the Standard is to improve safety and health conditions in the workplace for handling, transport, and storage of dangerous chemicals. The Draft Standard would implement conditions and procedures to prevent risks for the health of workers and prevent damage to the workplace. Under the Standard, new obligations for employers and occupationally exposed personnel would be implemented. Interested parties may submit comments to the National Advisory Committee for the Standardization of Safety and Health at Work within 60 days of the publication.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Security proposed a Bill entitled the Law Guaranteeing
Safety of Workers in Risk and Emergency Situations (the Law). On June 2, 2017, the Bill became Law. The purpose of the Law is to ensure that the health and safety of workers is protected during emergencies. Under the Law, when a workplace experiences a risk or emergency situation, the employer must immediately inform all of the workers about the existence of the risk, as well as measures that have been taken to eliminate or mitigate the risk. In addition, if the risk cannot be eliminated or mitigated, the employer must adopt measures for the immediate suspension of the affected workplace and evacuate employees. The Law would also empower workers with the right to interrupt their work, if necessary, and leave the workplace if they reasonably identify a serious and imminent risk to life or health.