‘Sometimes a swimming pool is just a swimming pool’

Ontario resort wins appeal over requirement to report guest’s death as a workplace accident
By Curtis Armstrong
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/03/2013

Ontario’s occupational health and safety regime exists to protect workers in the places they work. This includes a duty on employers to promptly report to the Ministry of Labour any workplace critical injury or death.

But what is a “workplace” and when is the duty to report triggered? In the case of Blue Mountain Resort, both the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) and the Ontario Divisional Court held that a workplace included all areas in or near where workers perform work. As a result, the resort had a duty to report when a guest – who wasn’t an employee – drowned while swimming in the resort pool at a time when no worker was present in the area.

The OLRB and court decisions shocked employers of every size and in every industry. If the OLRB and court were correct, virtually every place -- not just every workplace -- could be considered a “workplace” and every death or critical injury to anyone, anywhere, whatever the cause, would have to be reported to the Ministry of Labour.