Being July 1st, 2014, every employer in the province of Ontario will need to comply with the Ministry of Labour’s new Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
As first mentioned by fellow Kelly Santini LLP employment lawyer Shawn O’Connor on the firm’s business law blog Start Up. Build Up. Sell Up. in the post All Employers Required to Train Staff Under New Health & Safety Act, this new legislation may catch many employers off-guard. Past training requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) have resulted in employers focusing on employees involved in physical work and the resulting risk of injury. The new legislation states that all employees must receive the minimum required training, including white collar and clerical staff, whom employers might not have associated with having a risk of injury in the workplace.
What’s more, as Shawn O’Connor noted in his blog post, all staff supervisors must also complete a separate health and safety training curriculum. Corporations failing to comply with the new requirements can face a maximum fine of $500,000 if successfully prosecuted.
To meet the new training requirements, the Ministry of Labour offers a free online training services, which includes a helpful ‘proof of completion’ certificate for employees and supervisors who successfully complete the short program. Employers are not obliged to use the training services provided by the Ministry, so long as their alternative training covers the required content and they keep documentation to satisfy inspectors.
The online training program for employees can be accessed here: Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps .
The online training program for supervisors is available here: Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps .
Companies must consider who should be considered a supervisor. In many white collar office environments it is common for there to many supervisors of personal assistants and support staff. Starting July 1st, anyone who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker will be required to complete the supervisor training program. It is important to also note that this training covers only the minimum training requirements. Companies with higher risks must continue to address these training needs to ensure their workers are aware of the hazards in the workplace and have the knowledge to recognize them.
Finally, as Shawn O’Connor also noted, there is no minimum number of employees needed before a company must comply. Companies with even a single employee must comply with this new legislation. The basic training requirement is broader than other requirements and applies to all workers who are covered by the OHSA, regardless of whether they are part time or full time. The exemptions from the OHSA are limited to farming, teaching and work in and around private residences as part of the operation of a private residence. Any Federally regulated industries (such as banks, railroads, telecommunications) do not fall under the Ontario OHSA.
If you are an employer of employees in Ontario and would like assistance with your requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the professional, experienced and cost-effective employment lawyers for employers at Ottawa's Kelly Santini LLP would be happy to be of service to your business or organization.
To reach the author of this blog, Sean Bawden, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613.238.6321 x260.--
As always, everyone’s situation is different. The above is not intended to be legal advice for any particular situation. It is always prudent to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions with respect to your own case.
Sean P. Bawden is an Ottawa, Ontario employment lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawyer practicing with Kelly Santini LLP. He is also a part-time professor at Algonquin College teaching Trial Advocacy for Paralegals and Small Claims Court Practice.