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Toolbox: Due Diligence and Supervisors

7 Lessons on Due Diligence & Supervisors

  1. Supervisors Needn’t Make “Superhuman” Efforts; They Just Have to Act Reasonably.They only need show that they took reasonable steps to protect workers and ensure compliance with OHS laws
  2. Supervisors Aren’t Responsible for Failing to Prevent Unforeseeable Hazards. Supervisors must only take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable incidents and violations.
  3. Supervisors Are Liable for Preventing Foreseeable Hazards.  If Supervisors do know about a hazard or if a risk is foreseeable, they must take reasonable steps to address that hazard or minimize that risk.
  4. Supervisors Must be Present to Supervise.  Supervisors don’t necessarily have to be physically present at the site art all time. The need to be on site will be dictated by the danger of the work, degree of experience of the workers performing it and other factors. They must be present at least some of the time and within reach when they’re not present to adequately supervise workers and the work being done.
  5. Supervisors Must Actively Supervise.  Supervisors must make sure workers wear their PPE, follow safety rules and procedures and take other necessary precautions, If they see a dangerous condition, such as a worker engaging in dangerous conduct or not following proper procedures, they must intervene an perhaps even stop the  work until the condition is resolved.  
  6. Supervision Required Depends on Workers’ Experience.  New or young workers who aren’t very experienced will require more direct and constant supervision.
  7. Supervisors Aren’t Liable for Reasonable Mistakes of Fact. If a Supervisor had a genuine and reasonable belief in a set of facts that, if true, would have rendered his act or omission innocent, he won’t be held liable for the resulting OHS violation.

The enactment of Bill C-45 has heightened fears of liability among many supervisors. Supervisors need to understand that at the end of the day, due diligence is really just about doing their job, Supervisors aren’t found liable because incidents happen and workers ger hurt;  they’re found liable beause a supervisor with their experience and training could and should have taken steps to prevent the incident but didin’t.

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