13. Criminal Liability
Under section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) there is a duty of persons directing or guiding the work of others to take actions to prevent bodily harm associated with the performance of work: “Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.” (). This amendment to the CCC was in response to a 1992 Westray coal mining explosion which killed 26 miners in Nova Scotia. This workplace disaster could have been avoided if the company responded appropriately to the concerns expressed by employees, government inspectors, and union officials.
An official in an organization who has responsibility for creating policies or managing important aspects of the business activities may be criminally liable if, in the pursuit of corporate benefits, he or she directs others to commit an offense or fails to stop an organizational representative from committing an offense. Upon conviction, penalties could include a prison term, substantial fines or both.