West Fraser Mills Ltd. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Administrative law - Judicial review - Standard of review - Workers compensation - Regulations - Validity - Statutory regime imposing administrative penalty on employer if employer committed certain violations in relation to work safety - Owner of workplace challenging administrative penalty - Are the introductory words of the statutory provision authorizing the making of regulations to further the purposes of the Act sufficient to authorize the promulgation of regulations which are inconsistent with specific conduct-regulating provisions of the legislation that are conjoined with specific defined terms? - Is the application of a deferential standard of review sufficient to permit an administrative tribunal to act inconsistently with the legislative intention expressed in defined terms in legislation? - Workers Compensation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 492, s. 196(1) - Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, B.C. Reg. 296/97, s. 26.2.


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E, a tree faller, was fatally struck by a rotting tree while working within the area of a forest licence held by the appellant West Fraser Mills Ltd. West Fraser was the “owner” of the workplace, as defined in Part 3 of the Workers Compensation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 492. West Fraser was not E’s employer who worked for an independent contractor. The Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia investigated the accident and found that West Fraser had failed to ensure that all activities of the forestry operation were both planned and conducted in a manner consistent with the Regulation and with safe work practices acceptable to the Board pursuant to s. 26.2 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, B.C. Reg. 296/97. The Board imposed on West Fraser an administrative penalty for the violation, pursuant to s. 196(1) of the Act.

West Fraser requested a review of the order. A review officer confirmed the Board’s penalty order and the finding of violation. On appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal, West Fraser argued that s. 26.2 of the Regulation is ultra vires, and that an administrative penalty can only be levied against a person who has, in the course of acting as an employer, committed a violation. The Appeal Tribunal dismissed West Fraser’s appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

June 25, 2015
Supreme Court of British Columbia

S136448, 2015 BCSC 1098
Application for judicial review dismissed
November 28, 2016
Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver)

CA42920, 2016 BCCA 473
Appeal dismissed