Effective July 1, 2014, provincially-regulated employers in Ontario will need to ensure that workers complete basic occupational health and safety awareness training with the new OHSA Regulation. The new requirements are a part of the Ministry of Labour’s Prevention Strategy to support healthy and safe workplaces.
Under the new Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13), employers will be required to instruct workers on:
- The duties and rights of workers under OHSA;
- The duties of employers and supervisors under OHSA;
- The roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under OHSA;
- The roles of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and entities designated under OHSA (such as safe workplace associations);
- Common workplace hazards
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS)
- Occupational illness, including latency
In addition, an employer is required to ensure that a supervisor within one week of performing work as a supervisor receives basic health and safety instruction that includes the above and includes:
- How to recognize, assess and control workplace hazards, and evaluate those controls;
- Sources of information on occupational health and safety.
A worker is exempt from the above requirements if the worker has previously completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program and the training meets the requirements of the new Regulation.
A worker (or former worker within six months of being employed) may also request written proof or some sort of certificate of completion that he or she has completed the basic OHSA awareness training.
Best Practices for Employers
Given the potential liability for employers under OHSA (which may include fines of up to $500,000 per offence), employers should be careful relying on another employer’s OHSA awareness training. Section 25(2)(a) of OHSA – the obligation for an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker – still applies in addition to the new Regulation. Courts have held that training needs to be specific to the workplace and not general in nature.
Employers also need to be aware that they may be responsible for ensuring contractors or subcontractors and their workers comply with the new training requirements. Under OHSA, a “worker” means “a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation.”
A copy of Ontario Regulation 297/13 can be found at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2013/elaws_src_regs_r13297_e.htm
For more information about the new OHSA Regulation or for health and safety training workshops, please contact Meghan Ferguson at 416-446-3343.