1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Three months until July 1 training deadline: Update on Ontario’s new safety awareness training requirement

Ontario employers have less than three months left to ensure that their workers and supervisors get “basic occupational health and safety awareness training” before the July 1, 2014 deadline.

Our February 25, 2014 article set out “what you need to do” to comply with this new requirement.

We have been considering various strategies for our clients as to how to provide this training, and have been in touch with the Ministry of Labour. Here are some updates and additional insights for employers to consider.

Can you combine the worker and supervisor training into one joint in-person session?

There is substantial overlap between the required content of the worker and supervisor training sessions.

If your company will be delivering the training face-to-face not using the Ministry’s online e-module, and is considering combining the worker and supervisor training into one session for all employees, ensure that the session covers all of the required content in the Regulation – but also covers the material from the perspective of both workers and supervisors.

The new Regulation refers to a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program for workers and a basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors. A Ministry of Labour inspector could argue that “for” means “from the perspective of” or “tailored to”. So if, for instance, in a joint session you present only the supervisor’s perspective on a particular safety topic, an inspector might say that you have not complied with the Regulation’s requirement to provide the training “for” workers.

Although the required content for the worker and supervisor training overlap to some extent, you can see from the safety awareness training materials prepared by the Ministry of Labour (see our February 25th article for hyperlinks to those materials) that the Ministry approaches these topics quite differently for workers and supervisors. When delivering the safety awareness training, it is important to ensure that for each topic, workers and supervisors understand the distinction between their respective roles and responsibilities, even if the topic itself – such as “duties and rights of workers under the Act” – is required content in both the worker and supervisor training.

If you are going to combine the worker and supervisor sessions into one joint session, the safest approach is to ensure that any combined training session satisfies all of the criteria in the Regulation while articulating the different perspectives, roles and responsibilities of workers and supervisors. This will likely make the joint session longer than worker-only or supervisor-only sessions would be, possibly defeating the benefit of combining the worker and supervisor sessions.

Must supervisors also take the worker training?

There is some legal debate, based on the wording of the Regulation, as to whether supervisors who complete the supervisor training before July 1st must also complete the worker training. The debate centres around when the Regulation “came into force”, since part of the Regulation came into force on November 14, 2013 and the rest will come into force on July 1, 2014. A Ministry of Labour representative has recently advised us that the Ministry’s position is that July 1, 2014 is the applicable date.

Based on the Ministry’s position, a supervisor will be exempt from completing the worker training if:

(a) the supervisor was performing work as a supervisor for the employer prior to July 1, 2014; and

(b) the supervisor completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program for supervisors that contains the required supervisor contents, before July 1, 2014.

As a result, employers should ensure that all supervisors take the supervisor training before July 1st, because if they do, it appears that the Ministry of Labour will not require them to also take the worker training.

What about supervisors outside Ontario who supervise workers in Ontario?

Where your company has a supervisor outside Ontario – for instance, in Calgary – who supervises a worker in Ontario, the safe approach would be to have the Calgary supervisor complete Ontario’s basic safety awareness training for supervisors. Although, except in very limited circumstances, the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act does not apply to supervisors or workers working outside Ontario, a Ministry of Labour inspector could take the position that the OHSA does require an Ontario employer to ensure that any person supervising Ontario workers take the training – even if the supervisor is not located in Ontario.

Revising your contractor agreement

Ontario employers are required to ensure that contractors – who are “workers” under the OHSA – working for the employer have taken the worker safety awareness training. We are suggesting that companies revise their template contractor agreement to include a clause in which the contractor confirms that he or she has completed the training and that he or she will provide proof.

E-learning modules need specific web browsers

If you plan to have your workers and supervisors complete the training through the Ministry of Labour’s online e-learning modules, ensure that your company’s computers have at least Internet Explorer 9 or Chrome 17, or they won’t be able to access the modules.

Keep checking www.occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com for further updates on this topic, or e-mail us at adrian.miedema@dentons.com or chelsea.rasmussen@dentons.com.

 

Three months until July 1 training deadline: Update on Ontario’s new safety awareness training requirement

Failed to Register with WSIB? New “Voluntary Registration” Policy may Provide Mercy

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has issued a new policy showing when the WSIB will punish – or show mercy to – employers that are required to register with the WSIB but have not done so.

The new policy took effect on February 1st, 2014.  Not all Ontario employers are required to register with the WSIB.

The policy provides that where an employer is legally-required to register with WSIB but has not done so, while remaining undiscovered by the WSIB, if the employer voluntarily contacts the WSIB and discloses the non-compliance, the WSIB may (note – not “will”) waive penalties, refrain from laying charges, and not require payment of retroactive WSIB premiums prior to the “effective date of registration” (which is considered to be the later of the date of the employer’s first hire or 12 months prior to the month in which the employer made voluntary disclosure to the WSIB).

The policy states that the WSIB will, however, not show mercy on employers who have been “identified” to the WSIB prior to the employer’s voluntary disclosure – whether by the WSIB’s own “proactive registration activities”, or by anonymous calls to the WSIB’s ominous-sounding “Action Line”.

The moral of the story is that employers that may be required to register with the WSIB and have not done so, should strongly consider contacting the WSIB voluntarily in order to obtain the benefit of the Voluntary Registration policy, and hopefully avoid significant retroactive premiums and penalties.

The Voluntary Registration Policy may be found here.

Failed to Register with WSIB? New “Voluntary Registration” Policy may Provide Mercy

July 1, 2014 Deadline to Comply with Ontario’s New Safety Awareness Training Requirements. Here is What you Need to Do

The clock is ticking.  All Ontario employers must provide their workers and supervisors with “basic occupational health and safety awareness training” by July 1st, 2014 or they will be in violation of a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  And employers’ in-house safety awareness training provided to workers in the past will likely not meet the new requirements.

This is an “if you do nothing, you will be in violation” regulation.

Who Must be Trained?

All workers and supervisors must be trained – even workers in jobs that are not considered hazardous. 

There are two types of safety awareness training: worker training and supervisor training, and the government dictates the contents of both.

What About Contractors?

The definition of “worker” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act can include contractors working for the employer.  Companies using contractors need to ensure that the contractors have received the safety awareness training.  Companies should consider revising their contractor agreement to include a clause requiring the contractor to ensure that all of the contractor’s employees who are supplied to the company have completed the safety awareness training.

Obligation is on Employer, not Employee

Every Ontario employer must ensure that their workers and supervisors complete the safety awareness training. The obligation is on the employer, not the employees.

What if the Employer Already Provided Safety Orientation?

If your company already provided safety awareness training to employees, you are not required to provide the new mandatory safety awareness program – as long as your training program includes all of the content required by the Ministry of Labour.  I expect that most employers will want to put all of their employees and supervisors through the new mandatory orientation, using the Ministry of Labour’s training materials, in order to avoid an argument down the road that the employer’s training program did not cover all of the required topics.  In particular, the new regulation requires that the worker and supervisor training cover “roles of the ministry, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and Health and Safety Associations”, but those roles have recently changed, so one expects that most employers will not have covered that topic properly – if at all – in their existing in-house safety awareness program.

Deadline for New Employees, Supervisors

The deadline for providing the safety awareness training to current employees is July 1, 2014.  But for new employees hired after July 1, 2014, the deadline is “as soon as practicable” after they start working. For supervisors appointed to a supervisory position after July 1, 2014, the deadline is one week after starting to perform work as a supervisor.

How can the Training be Provided?

The training can be provided using the Ministry of Labour’s online “e-learning” modules, or by face-to-face sessions (group or individual) with employees.

Workbooks and E-Learning Tool

The Ministry of Labour makes a number of resources available to employers:

  • “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps” (worker workbook, 24 pages) is available here
  • “An Employer Guide to Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps” (2 pages) is available here
  • “Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps” (supervisor workbook, 32 pages) is available here
  • “An Employer Guide to Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps” (2 pages) is available here
  • The e-learning training module for workers (45-60 minutes) is available here
  • The e-learning training module for supervisors (45-60 minutes) is available here 

The e-learning training includes a few short videos, and a number of quiz questions.

Employers May use Own Equivalent Materials

Employers may opt to use their own training materials, instead of the MOL’s materials. However, the training program for workers must include instruction on the following topics:

  • the duties and rights of workers under OHSA;
  • the duties of employers and supervisors under OHSA;
  • common workplace hazards and occupational illnesses;
  • the role of joint health and safety committees (JHSCs) and of health and safety representatives under OHSA;
  • roles of the ministry, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and Health and Safety Associations; and
  • information and instruction requirements set out in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation.

If employers use their own supervisor safety orientation program, the training program must include instruction on the following topics:

 

  • the duties and rights of workers under OHSA;
  • the duties of employers and supervisors under OHSA;
  • how to identify, assess and manage workplace hazards, the role of joint health and safety committees (JHSCs), and of health and safety representatives under OHSA;
  • roles of the ministry, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and Health and Safety Associations; and
  • sources of information on occupational health and safety.

How Much Time does the Training Take?

The Ministry of Labour says that the worker and supervisor e-learning modules each take 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

Face-to-face sessions held by the employer can take as long as the employer wishes, but must cover all of the required material.

How Long is the Training Valid?

The training is valid for the employee’s working career. However, employers have an ongoing obligation, irrespective of this new safety awareness training requirement, to ensure that employees are properly trained at all times to do their job.

Maintaining a Record of Training

Employers must maintain a record of the training that is completed by workers and supervisors.  If the training is completed using the MOL’s e-learning training module, an employee will receive a certificate that is valid for the remainder of his or her career.

The employer must keep proof of the training for up to six months after the worker or supervisor stops performing work for the employer.

Exemptions

In the following two situations, workers or supervisors will not be required to complete the new worker safety awareness training:

  1. If a worker or supervisor has previously completed a worker safety awareness training program with a current or former employer that includes the required topics for worker safety awareness training listed above, he or she does not have to take the training again if he or she can provide proof of the training.
  2. A supervisor will not have to complete the worker training if:
    (a) the supervisor was performing work as a supervisor for the employer “prior to the Regulation coming into force”; and
    (b) the supervisor completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program for supervisors that contains the required contents listed above, “prior to the Regulation coming into force”.

Unfortunately there has been some legal debate and confusion as to whether the date of the “Regulation coming into force”, for the purposes of the above exemption, is November 14, 2013 or July 1, 2014, since parts of the Regulation came into force on each of those dates. The Ministry of Labour has recently advised us that, in its view, the date is July 1, 2014. That appears to mean that where a supervisor was working as a supervisor with the employer prior to July 1, 2014, and completed the supervisor safety awareness training program prior to July 1, 2014, the Ministry of Labour inspectors will not also require that the supervisor complete the worker safety awareness training program. After July 1st, however, that exemption will not be available.

If a supervisor has previously completed a supervisor safety awareness training program with a current or former employer that satisfies the required topics for supervisor training listed above, he or she will not have to take the supervisor awareness training again if he or she can provide proof of the training.

What Should Employers Do?

All Ontario employers should put a plan in place for ensuring that all workers complete the worker training, and all supervisors complete the supervisor training, by July 1st.  For office workers, the online e-learning module may be best. For others, the employer should consider holding face-to-face group training sessions with employees.

Here are some steps employers could take to work towards completing the training:

  1. Make a list of workers (not just “employees”)
  2. Make a list of supervisors
  3. Determine whether each worker and supervisor already received equivalent worker or supervisor safety awareness training (likely not)
  4. Plan how training will be done (e-learning or face-to-face sessions)
  5. Print paper copies of MOL materials for face-to-face sessions (if training provided face-to-face)
  6. For face-to-face sessions, gather other suggested materials, such as employer safety policies and procedures (see Ministry of Labour’s employer guides, linked above)
  7. Plan when training will be done: regular work day or on employee’s own time?
  8. Schedule training
  9. Set deadline for completing: May 31?
  10. Develop tracking / reminder system
  11. Decide who will keep training records and where

Consequences of Missing the Deadline

A Ministry of Labour inspector recently told me that, immediately after July 1st, inspectors will likely issue a reminder to employers who have not conducted the training by the July 1st deadline.  However, employers who still fail to complete the training will likely receive a compliance order, and in cases of ongoing failure, could be charged and fined.

Non-Compliance may be “Red Flag” to MOL Inspector

Just like failing to post all of the required health and safety materials on your bulletin board (see our article on posting requirements here), a failure to ensure that your workers and supervisors received the safety awareness training by July 1st may be a “red flag” for inspectors that your company is not on top of its safety obligations. Keep a file with all of the completion certificates handy, so you can quickly show the MOL inspector that all employees have been trained.

This Seems Complicated. What is the Simplest Way to Comply?

For many employers, the simplest way to comply is to send all employees and supervisors an e-mail with a link to the MOL modules and require them to complete the e-learning module, print off the completion certificate, and provide the certificate to you before July 1st.

The new regulation, which sets out the mandatory safety awareness training requirement, can be accessed here.

July 1, 2014 Deadline to Comply with Ontario’s New Safety Awareness Training Requirements. Here is What you Need to Do

Changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Legislation – Administrative Penalties and Tickets

Effective October 1, 2013, certain changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation came into force which allow an Occupational Health and Safety Officer to issue administrative penalties against any party regulated by the legislation (i.e. workers, contractors, employers, prime contractors and suppliers), for violating or failing to comply with the occupational health and safety legislation.

Administrative penalties can be up to $10,000 per violation per day. The amount of the administrative penalty in each case will be set by the Officer upon considering the seriousness of the contravention or failure to comply, the risk of harm resulting, and any other factors the Officer considers relevant. The person subject to the administrative penalty must be given at least 30 days to pay. Administrative penalties can be appealed to the Occupational Health and Safety Council. A person who pays an administrative penalty cannot be charged with an offense under the legislation with respect to the same contravention or non-compliance. The administrative penalty must be given within two years after the contravention or non-compliance. If unpaid, the administrative penalty can be enforced as a judgment.

In addition, as of January 1, 2014, further changes to the legislation will come into force which will enable Occupational Health and Safety Officers to issue tickets to workers and employers who are in contravention of certain listed provisions of the occupational health and safety legislation. The amount of the tickets will range from $100 to $500. These tickets will be essentially the same as traffic tickets – they are given on the spot upon a contravention of the law. A person receiving the ticket can plead not guilty and go to court.

This new system provides a middle ground in the enforcement spectrum which, until now, only allowed for either orders to comply or prosecutions through the courts. These new measures are intended to act as an additional tool to address non-compliance with the legislation.

Changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Legislation – Administrative Penalties and Tickets

AODA’s Workplace Emergency Response Information Requirements Already in Force: Are you in Compliance?

Since January 1, 2012, Ontario employers have been obligated to provide “individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.”

The obligation is in section 27 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (often referred to as “AODA”).  Although other obligations under that regulation come into effect in 2014 and later, the emergency response information requirements in section 27 came into effect in 2012.

Section 27 also requires that if an employee who “receives individualized workplace emergency response information requires assistance”, then if the employee consents, the employer shall provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee.”

The section goes on to require that employers provide the emergency response information as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.

Lastly, section 27 requires that every employer review the individualized workplace emergency response information, “(a) when the employee moves to a different location in the organization; (b) when the employee’s overall accommodations needs or plans are reviewed; and (c) when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.”

Employers – particularly those with workplaces which might be difficult to exit in the event of an emergency – should consider their obligations under section 27.

 

AODA’s Workplace Emergency Response Information Requirements Already in Force: Are you in Compliance?

“E-Learning” Safety Orientation Module Coming Soon in Ontario; Printed Copies of MOL Safety Orientation Materials Now Available

Worker safety orientation is expected to become mandatory in Ontario on January 1, 2014, as we have previously advised.  The Ontario Ministry of Labour is developing an e-learning module that workers and supervisors can take to complete the orientation, and has now made available printed copies of its worker safety orientation materials.

The worker materials are called “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps”, and an accompanying employer guide is available.  Printed copies can be ordered by going to www.publications.service ontario.ca and searching for “worker awareness”.

The MOL says that the supervisor materials, called “Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps”, and the accompanying employer guide, will be available in printed form soon.

Also, the MOL says that the e-learning program will be available later this Spring.  According to the MOL, “learners will be able to access modules on the ministry’s website and print a certificate of completion once they complete the online awareness training.”  The e-learning module will, hopefully, make it relatively easier for employers to comply with their new obligation, as of January 1, 2014, to ensure that all workers and supervisors have received the mandatory safety orientation.  Workers and supervisors may simply go to the MOL website, take the orientation through the e-learning module, print the completion certificate, and give it to their employer.

For more information on the new mandatory training obligations, see our previous post here.

“E-Learning” Safety Orientation Module Coming Soon in Ontario; Printed Copies of MOL Safety Orientation Materials Now Available

No More Skillful Scheduling of Contractors: Clarification of When a Prime Contractor is Required

In November 2012, we posted a blog regarding Bill 6, The Protection and Compliance Statures Amendment Act, 2012, introduced to the Alberta legislature to amend three Acts, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act as part of an ongoing effort by the provincial government to hold employers (and those responsible for work sites) accountable for the health and safety of their business operations. Bill 6 received Royal Assent on December 10, 2012. As a result, one key amendment now in force is Section 3(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which deals with the prime contractor.

Prior to the amendment, the legislation was worded in a way which suggested that a prime contractor was only required if two or more employers were involved at the work site at the same time. Due to the wording, some site owners were able to bypass the prime contractor obligation by skillfully crafting a work schedule so that no more than one employer was present at a work site at the same time.

The amendment strikes out the words “at the same time” in an effort to clarify that a prime contractor is required for a work site whenever there are two or more employers whose work activities are interrelated and/or have a health or safety impact on each other, even though they may not be present at the work site together.

For more information see: http://humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/OHS-Act-Amended-LI031.pdf

 

No More Skillful Scheduling of Contractors: Clarification of When a Prime Contractor is Required

Employer Violated Workplace Violence Law: Ontario Arbitrator

An Ontario arbitrator has found that an employer violated Bill 168 which introduced workplace violence provisions into Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Labourers’ International Union of North America, Local 506, referred a workplace violence grievance to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. For some reason, the employer did not file the necessary response form with the OLRB. As such, the OLRB proceeded to hear the grievance without the employer having filed any materials.

On the basis of the facts stated by the union, the OLRB found that a principal of the employer had assaulted, on a job site, a labourer employed by the employer, and that the principal later threatened another worker with physical violence and death.

The OLRB also found that the employer had failed to prepare, review and post workplace violence and harassment policies or programs, or to provide information and instruction to workers regarding workplace harassment, in violation of sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that were introduced in Bill 168.

The OLRB therefore directed the employer to “cease and desist from violating . . . the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

While the union also asked the OLRB to award damages – including for mental distress – to the employees who were the victims of workplace violence, the OLRB said that it did not have sufficient evidence to do so, but the OLRB scheduled a date to deal with the assessment of damages.

Although the employer did not participate in this grievance hearing, the decision is a warning to employers that non-compliance with the Bill 168 workplace violence and harassment provisions is not just a technical breach, but may result in legal orders and damages.

Labourers’ International Union of North America, Local 506 v Pro-Cut Concrete Cutting Ltd, 2013 CanLII 1240 (ON LRB)

Employer Violated Workplace Violence Law: Ontario Arbitrator

January 1, 2014 Deadline for New Mandatory Safety AwarenessTraining, Ontario Government Proposes

Ontario employers will have until January 1, 2014 to ensure that all current workers and supervisors have received new mandatory safety awareness training, the Ontario government has proposed.

The government intends to file a regulation on or before July 1, 2013 making the training mandatory and imposing the January 1, 2014 deadline.

Mandatory for all Workplaces Covered by OHSA

The Ontario Ministry of Labour says, on its website, that the training will be mandatory for all workplaces currently covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regardless of sector, including industrial establishments, construction projects, health care and residential facilities, mines and mining plants, and farming operations. The requirement even extends to office employees and others thought to be in low-safety-risk jobs.

New Employees

The regulation will also require that any new employees receive the worker training as soon as practicable after commencing work duties, and that new supervisors complete the supervisory safety awareness training within the first week of commencing supervisory duties.  New employees or supervisors who can prove that they received the safety awareness training at a previous employer will not be required to retake that training.

MOL’s Worker Training Materials

The MOL has finalized and released worker safety awareness training materials that employers can use.  The materials include a worker workbook, “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps“, and an employer guide to that workbook.  Employers who train workers using the MOL materials will automatically comply with the new mandatory safety awareness training requirement.  Note that the new requirement is for basic safety awareness training only; employers will, depending on the employee’s job, also be required to provide additional safety training, developed by the employer, tailored to the job.

MOL’s Supervisor Training Materials

The MOL’s supervisor safety awareness training materials have not yet been finalized.  A version of the supervisor training materials is being piloted, along with an employer guide to the supervisor training program.  The final version should be released shortly.

Required Content of Training

Employers who opt to use their own training materials instead of the MOL’s must, according to the MOL, ensure that the training covers, at a minimum, the following topics:

Worker Awareness Training

  • Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA
  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Health and safety partners
  • Hazard recognition
  • Right to be informed of hazards
  • Reference to an employer’s obligations to provide information and instruction to workers about controlled products as required under Regulation 860 (WHMIS) of the OHSA
  • Latency and illness related to occupational disease

Supervisor Awareness Training

  • Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA
  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and health and safety partners
  • Recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of hazards
  • Where resources and assistance are available

Previous Training May Not Be Sufficient

Although many employers will have already provided safety awareness training to workers and supervisors, if that training did not include all of the above topics and was not “equivalent” to the training program developed by the MOL, then the training will not meet the new legal requirement.

Consequences of Missing Deadline

Employers who do not comply with the new training requirements by January 1, 2014 could be ordered by an MOL inspector to comply – meaning, they will have to scramble to complete the training in short order – or, in a worst-case scenario, they could be charged and fined.

What Should Employers Do

Ontario employers should, in the near future, do the following:

-review existing worker and supervisor training programs and consider whether they contain the content required under the new rules

-if there are training gaps – that is, if your current program is missing content required by the new MOL requirements – the employer must ensure that the gaps are filled by the end of 2013.  OHS legal counsel can assist in determining whether there are gaps

-decide how the training will be provided: in person, by webinar, etc.

-review your existing training documentation: are you able to prove that your employees have received the training that you have already done?

-consider how you will document that employees and supervisors have received the new mandatory training.  If the training is not properly documented, or you cannot adequately prove that a person received the training, the MOL could still lay orders or charges

The new requirement of safety awareness training is a sweeping requirement that all Ontario employers must be aware of.  MOL inspectors who visit an employer’s workplace in 2013 may ask whether the employer is making progress towards completing the training.  In 2014, inspectors will want to see proof that the training has been completed.

 

 

January 1, 2014 Deadline for New Mandatory Safety AwarenessTraining, Ontario Government Proposes

Update on Ontario’s Forthcoming Mandatory Safety Orientation Training

The Ontario Ministry of Labour’s worker safety orientation materials should be released in their final version in “late fall/early winter”, and the supervisor materials will be piloted in the coming months with final release expected in early 2013, says Ontario’s Chief Privacy Officer in a recent update.

As we have mentioned in previous posts, the Ontario government plans to pass a regulation making worker and supervisor safety orientation training mandatory in Ontario, using the government’s training materials or equivalent materials.  The regulation has not yet been introduced.  It is expected that the government will give employers lead-time to accomplish the training before the regulation comes into effect.

We suggest that Ontario employers watch for the final versions of the Ministry of Labour worker and supervisor training materials, review them, and begin thinking about whether your company already provides equivalent safety awareness training and if not, how your company intends to meet the new training requirements.

Update on Ontario’s Forthcoming Mandatory Safety Orientation Training

Alberta Employers and Workers Who Violate Alberta’s Safety Laws Face Stiffer Penalties

Bill 6, The Protection and Compliance Statutes Amendment Act, 2012 was recently introduced to the Alberta legislature, and will amend three Acts, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Safety Codes Act, as part of a continuing effort by the provincial government to hold employers accountable for the health and safety of their business operations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out the rules which pertain to the health and safety of workers. Notable amendments to the OH&S Act relate to the introduction to administrative penalties. Employers, prime contractors, contractors, suppliers or workers who have failed to comply with a provision of the OH&S Act, Regulations or Code or an Order issued by an OH&S officer will be subject to an administrative penalty not exceeding $10,000, which amount can accumulate on a per day basis in the case of an ongoing failure to comply. Prior to the amendment, to enforce compliance with OH&S law, an officer had the authority to issue an Order. However, if the Order was not complied with, the only available option was to pursue a prosecution.

The Safety Codes Act applies to fire protection and applies to the design, manufacture, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of buildings, electrical systems, elevating devices, gas systems, plumbing and private sewage disposal systems and pressure equipment. Notable amendments include: the introduction of a three year limitation period for prosecution of offences under the Act, rather than relying upon the six months available under the Provincial Offences Procedures Act; increasing the maximum potential fine for a first offence from $15,000 to $100,000; and increasing the maximum potential fine for a second or subsequent offence from $30,000 to $500,000.

For more information see:

http://alberta.ca/acn/201210/331568EFCD3BB-FC73-31BB-D22CBF161ED087A5.html

Alberta Employers and Workers Who Violate Alberta’s Safety Laws Face Stiffer Penalties

Gas Station Employees’ Safety and Wages Would be Protected under Ontario Private Member’s Bill

An Ontario Private Member’s Bill, introduced on September 20, 2012, seeks to protect gas station attendant’s safety and their income.

The Bill, introduced by Liberal MPP Mike Colle, is in response to the tragic death of gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati whom police say died trying to stop a vehicle from leaving the gas station without paying for fuel.  According to a CBC report, Mr. Colle lives in the area where the gas station is located and knew the victim.

The Bill would amend the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to require that the employer of a gas station attendant ensure that customers “provide a credit card, debit card, cash or other method of payment” before pumping their gas.  It would also give the government power to make a regulation requiring specific safety training for gas station attendants.

The Bill would also amend the Employment Standards Act to prohibit employers from penalizing gas station attendants – such as by docking their wages – where fuel is stolen on their shift.  Surprisingly, the Bill would impose fines of up to $1 million for repeat violators of the anti-docking law, which is double the maximum fine for other violations of the Employment Standards Act.

The Bill received first reading on September 20th.  Stay tuned for further developments.

Click here to read the Bill.

 

Gas Station Employees’ Safety and Wages Would be Protected under Ontario Private Member’s Bill

Deadline Approaching: On October 1, MOL Inspectors Begin Enforcing Obligation to Post Ontario’s New Safety Poster

On October 1, 2012, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will begin enforcing employers’ legal obligation to post the MOL’s new safety poster.

In a June 2012 post, we reported that The Ontario Ministry of Labour had released the safety poster and that although employers were legally required to post it immediately, the MOL said that it would not being enforcing this obligation until October 1st.

The poster, which is available in 17 languages, is called “Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here”. It may be downloaded and printed from the MOL’s website (click here). 

Section 25(1)(i) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to “post, in the workplace, a copy of this Act and any explanatory material prepared by the Ministry, both in English and the majority language of the workplace, outlining the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers”.  The MOL states that the poster is such “explanatory material prepared by the Ministry”, and therefore it must be posted.

On its website, the MOL says, “The poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities and the responsibilities of employers and supervisors. It also reminds employers that they must not take action against workers for following the act or for raising workplace health and safety concerns, and seeking enforcement of the OHSA. The poster encourages workers to get involved in health and safety and explains when and why to contact the Ministry of Labour.”

The poster also sets out a toll-free number for employees to call the MOL.

Ontario employers should put up the poster now.  Inspectors will look for it when they arrive at workplaces.  By posting the poster, employers send a signal to MOL inspectors that they are on keeping on top of health and safety law developments.

Deadline Approaching: On October 1, MOL Inspectors Begin Enforcing Obligation to Post Ontario’s New Safety Poster

Mandatory Training Update: Ontario’s New Worker Safety Awareness Workbook being Piloted

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is piloting its new worker safety awareness training workbook in a number of Ontario workplaces.  The Ministry states that, “The pilots are taking place during the summer of 2012 with an anticipated launch of the workbook in the Fall of 2012.”

The pilot version of the employee workbook is available here, and an employers guide to worker safety awareness training is available here.

In a May 2012 post, we had discussed the Ministry’s announcement that it intends to introduce a regulation that would require Ontario employers to provide mandatory safety awareness training to all workers and supervisors, using Ministry-developed materials or equivalent materials.

The Ministry states, on its website, that “For a worker awareness program to be mandatory, a regulation will be required and as such, stakeholders will be consulted in the fall on the regulatory proposal.”  One expects that, due to the sweeping nature of the new safety awareness training obligations, the Ministry will provide substantial lead time to employers to provide the safety awareness training to workers and supervisors.

The Ministry notes that “some employers may already provide their workers with the information covered in this program”, and that those employers’ programs may meet the new requirements.  The Ministry says that it intends to introduce an “equivalency guideline” to allow employers to determine whether their existing safety awareness programs meet the new requirements.

Employers should review the new “pilot” worker and supervisor training materials and begin thinking about whether the employer already provides equivalent safety awareness training, and if not, how the employer intends to meet the new training requirements.

Mandatory Training Update: Ontario’s New Worker Safety Awareness Workbook being Piloted

Reviewing Ontario’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Law

In this article, Andy Pushalik reviews employer’s duties as they relate to workplace violence and harassment in Ontario.

On June 15, 2010, Ontario’s workplace violence and workplace harassment law came into effect. With this implementation deadline looming, employers rushed to take the necessary steps to ensure their compliance.

Reprinted by permission of Carswell, a division of Thomson Reuters Canada Limited.

To read the full article as published in Legal Alert, Vol. 31, No. 2, May 2012, click here.

Reviewing Ontario’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Law

Cell Phone Driving Law Interpreted: Any “Holding” is Illegal, says Ontario Court

An Ontario appeal court has decided that any “holding” of a cell phone is illegal under Ontario’s relatively new cell phone driving law – even when the driver is not using the phone, and even when the phone is not operable.

A police officer observed a driver glancing down and back up while stopped in her vehicle at a traffic light.  It appeared to the officer that the driver was punching numbers on her cell phone but he did not actually observe that.  He knocked on the window and pulled her over.  The driver testified in court that her cell phone had fallen from the seat to the floor, and she had picked it up when stopped at the light.  She said that she did not use the cell phone or intend to use it; she claimed that she did not even know how to send text messages from the phone.

Section 78 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, Ontario’s relatively-new cell phone driving law, states:

78.1  (1)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.”

The appeal judge, Justice Nakatsuru of the Ontario Court of Justice, decided that any “holding” of the cell phone was illegal while driving, even if the person was not using the phone.  However, the mere “touching” of the phone – for instance, to pass it to a passenger – was not “holding” . “There must be some sustained physical holding of the device in order to meet the definition found within” the section.  A momentary handling is not enough.

In this case, because the trial justice had accepted the driver’s testimony that she had simply picked up the cell phone when it fell to the floor, the driver was found not guilty of the charge.

Lastly, the appeal judge decided that in order for a driver to be found guilty, the cell phone need not be operable.  Even if the device was inoperable or turned off, any “holding” of the device is illegal.  To decide otherwise would make it very difficult for the police to ever charge a driver under the section.

Employers should review their mobile devices policies in light of this decision.  Given the decision, employers may consider taking a strict “no holding a cell phone while driving” approach.

R. v. Kazemi, 2012 ONCJ 383 (CanLII)

 

 

 

Cell Phone Driving Law Interpreted: Any “Holding” is Illegal, says Ontario Court

MOL Announces Members of new Prevention Council

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced the members of its new Prevention Council:

Labour representatives

  • Patrick Dillon, Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
  • Colin Grieve, Occupational Disease Worker Advocate, Hamilton and Ontario Professional Firefighters Associations
  • Nancy Hutchison, Secretary Treasurer, Ontario Federation of Labour
  • Bryan Neath, Regional Director – Ontario, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada

Non-Union Worker Representative

  • Linda Vannucci, Director, Toronto Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic

Employer Representatives

  • Michael Oxley, President and Chief Financial Officer, DuPont Canada
  • Gloria Rajkumar, CEO, SIMAC
  • Roy Slack, President, Cementation Canada Inc.

Occupational Health and Safety Expert

  • Graeme Norval, Associate Chair and Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Toronto

Of particular note, perhaps, is the appointment of the the presidents – not human resources or safety managers – of large, well-known companies to the Prevention Council.

The Ministry notes that “one employer representative and a representative from the WSIB are currently being finalized and will be announced in the near future.”

The concept of the Prevention Council was created by the Bill 160 amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted from the Expert Advisory Panel’s report on occupational health and safety, which was released in December 2010.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Prevention Council’s mandate is largely to provide advice to the Chief Prevention Officer on the prevention of workplace injuries and occupational diseases, and for the purposes of the provincial occupational health and safety strategy and the Chief Prevention Officer’s annual report on occupational health and safety.

We will provide further updates on the activities of the Prevention Council and Chief Prevention Officer, and the impact of their activities on Ontario employers.

 

MOL Announces Members of new Prevention Council

“Trend to more small workplaces and fewer large ones” affecting Ontario’s safety strategy

After stating that “many workers continue to be unaware of their workplace rights and responsibilities”, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer, George Gritziotis, has noted a “trend to more small workplaces and fewer large ones”, and states that the trend requires “new approaches” for reaching employers and workers with safety messages.

In the same article, Mr. Gritziotis states that, “An important priority will be to establish adequate standards in the area of training and certification.”

As we have previously noted on occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com, the Ontario Ministry of Labour intends to introduce mandatory worker and supervisor training obligations on Ontario employers.  Mr. Gritziotis’s comments may indicate that the training requirements will be more onerous than had previously been anticipated.  Stay tuned.

Mr. Gritziotis’s article can be accessed here.

“Trend to more small workplaces and fewer large ones” affecting Ontario’s safety strategy

B.C.’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Law Now in Effect

As we stated in blog posts on May 10th and June 13th, 2012, the B.C. Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2011 – also known as Bill 14 – expands workers’ compensation benefits to mental disorders caused by significant workplace stressors. These stressors include a single traumatic event or cumulative stressors over time, such as workplace bullying and harassment.

On July 1, 2012, the Bill came into effect and is now law. WorkSafe BC will be issuing policies sometime this Fall which will set out employers’ obligations with respect to formal prevention plans. It is also anticipated that at that time, WorkSafe BC will clarify certain aspects of the legislation, specifically what type of conduct constitutes “bullying” and “harassment”. Stay tuned for further details this coming Fall.

B.C.’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Law Now in Effect

Contractor with Minor Role in Project Cannot Blame Others for Explosion: Saskatchewan Provincial Court

An independent contractor was working amongst a group of other parties on the demolition of a few buildings in downtown Nipawin, SK when he snagged a gas riser with his backhoe. This led to the line being pulled from the main which in turn caused gas to seep into through the ground and pool in the basement of a nearby butcher shop. Shortly thereafter the gas was ignited by a piece of machinery in the basement and an explosion occurred killing two people and seriously injuring five others. The contractor was found guilty of two Occupational Health and Safety Act violations.

The Court confirmed that an independent contractor has a duty under the Act to conduct his work, insofar as is reasonably practicable, in a manner that ensures that he and the other workers are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The Court held that, although the outcome may have been changed if some of the other parties who had more control over the project had acted differently; it was not the outcome that was the focus of the charge, but rather the creation of the risk. The Court found that the contractor was familiar with the possible consequences of snagging the gas line and had the time to locate the riser by hand, using a shovel, instead of a big piece of machinery like the backhoe. Even though there were other parties involved in managing the procedures after the snag occurred, it was the contractor who created the risk by his own independent actions. He “failed to establish that there was no better practical means than was actually used to satisfy the onus upon him in this case”.

The significance of this case is that it confirms that occupational health and safety law is not only concerned with the actions of the party with the most control or primary responsibility over a worksite or project. Where a party has some control over the work being performed, he must carry out his duties in accordance with the Act and ensure that the work is being conducted in a safe manner.

R v Riemer, 2012 SKPC 6 (CanLII)

Contractor with Minor Role in Project Cannot Blame Others for Explosion: Saskatchewan Provincial Court