Disputing a WorkSafeBC Decision

The Employers’ Advisers Office can help you understand and potentially dispute WorkSafeBC claims, insurance (assessment), and health and safety decisions. For advice or assistance with the information on this page or any WorkSafeBC decision, please contact us or attend one of our free seminars.

As an employer, you pay workers’ compensation premiums to cover the cost of health care and wage loss for workers who are injured while working for you. A situation may arise, however, where you are not convinced that an injury occurred while at work or when the worker was engaged in employment-related activities. The acceptance of a claim and the amount and duration of benefits can impact the amount of premiums you pay to WorkSafeBC.

Sometimes you may not dispute the fact that the worker was hurt on the job but have knowledge of a pre-existing condition that may have exacerbated the injury and prolonged the duration of the claim.

You may also take exception to other types of claim decisions, such as the wage rate being used for the calculation of benefits or the duration of the claim.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, there are several ways the Employers’ Advisers Office can help.

First, if you do not believe the injury is employment-related, an Employers’ Adviser can assist you with the preparation of the Employer’s Report of Injury or Occupational Disease (Form 7) by providing guidance on setting out the appropriate facts, law and policy.

In addition, upon establishing the merit of your argument, an Employers’ Adviser can assist you with the following procedural steps:

  • getting a decision letter from WorkSafeBC, if one has not been provided
  • seeking a reconsideration of the decision by the decision-maker
  • requesting a review of the decision at Review Division, (the first level of formal review in the appeal process), and providing written submissions to the Review Officer
  • appealing a Review Division decision, where allowed, to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), including preparing written submissions and/or attending with you at an oral hearing

Please note that time limits are prescribed for most of these procedural steps.

When you register with WorkSafeBC, your firm will be placed into a specific classification unit.

A classification unit describes particular services, materials, and equipment commonly found within a particular industrial activity. For example, if you are a roofing company, your firm may be placed in low slope or steep slope roofing depending on the type of roof you primarily install or repair.

The assignment of your business to a particular classification unit is important because each classification unit specifies the base rate upon which your premiums will be calculated. These rates can vary dramatically depending on the historical cost rates in the applicable industry and whether the work activities involve a high risk of injury.

Sometimes, a firm may be involved in two or more separate and distinct industrial activities which have different rates. In this case, multiple classifications may be available.

An Employers’ Adviser can review the nature of your business operations, work with you to identify some of your direct competitors, and help you understand relevant WorkSafeBC policies and practice directives that apply to your firm.

If you believe your firm has been incorrectly classified or if multiple classifications have been denied, upon establishing the merit of your argument, an Employers’ Adviser can do the following on your behalf:

  • Seek a reconsideration of the decision by the decision-maker
  • Request a review of the decision at Review Division, (the first level of formal review in the appeal process), and provide written submissions to the Review Officer
  • Appeal a Review Division decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), where allowed, including preparing written submissions and/or attending with you at an oral hearing

Please note that time limits are prescribed for these procedural steps.

WorkSafeBC is allowed to conduct an audit of your business to ensure you have been appropriately registered and classified, and are accurately reporting your payroll.

If you disagree with the audit results or have questions regarding the audit process you may wish to speak to an Employers’ Adviser.  

An Employers’ Adviser can assist in reviewing and determining whether the audit officer has followed appropriate assessment policy and/or practice directives.  An Employers’ Adviser can review the audit working papers along with the information outlined in the decision letter to determine whether there has been an error of fact or law, or a contravention of policy.  

If you wish to dispute an audit decision, upon establishing the merit of your argument, an Employers’ Adviser can:

  • Seek a reconsideration of the decision by the decision-maker
  • Request a review of the decision to the Review Division, (the first level of formal review in the appeal process), and provide written submissions to the Review Officer
  • Appeal a Review Division decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), where allowed, including preparing written submissions and/or attending with you at an oral hearing

Please note that time limits are prescribed for these procedural steps.

If your worker alleges employer retaliation for raising health and safety concerns at the workplace, (for example, if a worker is suspended or reprimanded as a result of reporting a safety issue), you may find yourself facing a discriminatory action.

Discriminatory actions are often lengthy. They can also be very costly because, if an adjudicator finds in favour of the worker, orders to pay back wages are often issued.

WorkSafeBC Officers investigate discriminatory action complaints and may contact you to attempt to resolve the issue. If this occurs, the Employers’ Advisers Office can help.

An Employers’ Adviser can explain the meaning of a “prima facie” case and the worker’s obligation to meet this requirement. An Employers’ Adviser can also review the facts of your case with you in light of current law and policy to determine whether a defence is available.

Upon establishing the merit of your argument, an Employers’ Adviser can:

  • Assist with settling the dispute, either informally or formally with a WorkSafeBC-appointed mediator
  • Prepare submissions on your behalf to the Compliance Section, in the event a settlement is not possible
  • Write submissions and/or attend with you at an oral hearing at the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT)

Part 3 of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation set out mandatory rules for ensuring workplace health and safety. WorkSafeBC’s prevention services department is responsible for enforcing these rules.

If a WorkSafeBC Safety or Hygiene Officer determines that violations have occurred at your workplace, orders, citations and/or administrative penalties may be written against you.

Orders are directions to take specific steps in order to meet the legislated safety requirements, and include stop work and stop operations orders.

Citations are monetary fines that may be issued against you for non-compliance with an order or for failing to file a compliance report in response to an order. Written warnings are provided to employers prior to the imposition of a citation.

Administrative penalties are generally more significant monetary fines which may be imposed depending on the seriousness of the safety violation and your past compliance history.

If you have questions regarding an order, citation warning, or administrative penalty, or wish to dispute the prevention decision, the Employers’ Advisers Office can help. An Employers’ Adviser can review the order, citation or citation warning or administrative penalty with you in light of current law, regulations, and policies, and, if the Employers’ Adviser determines your argument has merit:

  • Seek a reconsideration of the decision by the decision-maker
  • Request a review of the decision at Review Division, (the first level of formal review in the appeal process), and provide written submissions to the Review Officer
  • For administrative penalties, appeal a Review Division decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), including preparing written submissions and/or attending with you at an oral hearing

Please note that time limits are prescribed for these procedural steps.