Workplace emergency procedures

Keeping the office ready for a major emergency
By Colin Gibson
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/07/2011

Question: Are emergency procedures (for events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods) considered part of an employer’s obligations to make the workplace as safe as possible under occupational health and safety legislation? If our emergency procedures aren’t updated, does that create occupational health and safety liability, even if the everyday operation of the workplace is safe?

Answer: Employers in Canada may have both general and specific occupational health and safety obligations in relation to emergency preparedness in the workplace, depending on the jurisdiction in which they operate.

As explained above, Canadian employers have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees. An employer would need to take reasonable precautions to minimize the risks posed by the types of emergencies in the question, by virtue of their general OHS obligations. This would include developing and maintaining emergency procedures.