But I Feel Like A Sausage – The OHSA Does Not Require Employer To Provide “Winter Coveralls”: Arbitrator

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As tight as summer coveralls might be with winter clothing underneath, the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not require employers to provide winter coveralls to crane operators, a Newfoundland arbitrator has held.

The collective agreement required the employer to provide “coveralls”. The employer provided summer coveralls with reflective “visibility markings” and which also protected the employee’s clothing. The employer did not provide winter coveralls, which were lined on the inside and therefore warmer.

The crane operators complained that the summer coveralls were not warm enough in the winter and fit too tightly to wear enough clothes to keep warm. They said that although the crane cabs were heated, they were drafty and the door must be opened and closed frequently.

The arbitrator decided that the need to wear warmer clothing underneath the coveralls in winter “was not established as a health and safety regulation or a requirement of the Collective Agreement.” The safety issues – visibility and protection of clothing – was adequately addressed by the summer coveralls.

This case appears to be part of a trend of unions attempting to achieve certain job benefits – such as winter clothing – for employees on the basis of safety. Here, the union was unable to establish that the lining in winter coveralls was a safety requirement.

Resource Development Trades Council of Newfoundland and Labrador v. Long Harbour Employers Association Inc., 2013 CanLII 12447 (NL LA) (January 7, 2013)