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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

New Enforcement Tool: Alberta Government Considering Establishing an Administrative Penalties System for OHS Violations

The Alberta government is considering establishing an Administrative Penalty System (APS) for occupational health and safety infractions. The OHS Policy and Program Development Branch of Alberta Human Services, in collaboration with the OHS Council, have developed a draft proposed APS.

The current initiative is intended to expand the range of compliance enforcement tools for OHS breaches. The option of an APS would involve monetary penalties, authorized in law, and levied by administrative action (a government body) rather than judicial action (charges/prosecution in the courts). This system would allow a penalty to be applied when there is a creation of a risk of harm or any non-compliance.

Alberta Human Services states that the APS is intended to assist in the prevention of actual harm on Alberta worksites before incidents take place. An administrative penalty would be issued based on an OHS Officer’s observations, together with a consideration of information regarding a worksite. Relevant considerations would, under the proposed APS, include: degree of risk of harm; gravity or seriousness of the contravention; degree of willfulness/negligence contributing to the contravention; and any history of non-compliance. These considerations would determine whether the issuing of an administrative penalty is warranted and, if so, the amount of the penalty.

The Alberta Government has asked for input from employers, workers, contractors, OHS professionals, and suppliers by completing an on-line survey by July 31, 2012. The draft proposal will then be submitted to the Minister of Human Services for his consideration.

For more information see: http://employment.alberta.ca/SFW/14764.html

 

New Enforcement Tool: Alberta Government Considering Establishing an Administrative Penalties System for OHS Violations

Employers Must Post MOL Safety Poster Now: MOL Enforcement Starts October 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has released a safety poster that employers are now legally required, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to post in their workplaces.  The MOL says that its inspectors will “begin enforcing the requirement” on October 1, 2012.

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).  The MOL had previously released a draft of the poster for consultation.

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.

The creation of the poster was one of 46 recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel on workplace safety, which released its recommendations to the Ontario Minister of Labour in December 2010.

Ontario employers should put up the poster as soon as possible.  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.

 

Employers Must Post MOL Safety Poster Now: MOL Enforcement Starts October 2012

Mandatory Supervisory Safety Training Coming to Ontario: MOL Releases Draft Workbook and Employer Guide for Consultation

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has previously stated that it intends to pass a regulation requiring employers to provide safety awareness training to all supervisors – in addition to non-supervisory workers.

The Ministry has now released supervisory training materials for consultation: a supervisor workbook and employer guide to supervisory awareness training.  The Ministry intends to make use of those materials, or equivalent materials, mandatory.

On its website, the Ministry states that, when mandatory, the supervisory training may be provided:

  • Face-to-face with one supervisor or a group of supervisors using the workbook
  • Electronically through an e-learning program (the Ministry intends to develop e-learning programs for workers and supervisors)

The draft 30-page supervisor workbook is called “A Supervisor’s Guide in 5 Steps”.  Apart from those 5 “steps”, the workbook lists 5 duties of supervisors:

1. Know the OHS Act and the various Regulations attached to it that apply to your workplace

2.  Make sure workers wear the right protective equipment

3. Tell workers about the hazards in their work

4. Plan the work so that it can be done safely

5. Make sure workers know and follow through on their health and safety duties

It will likely be several months, at the least, before the supervisor and worker training, using the Ministry’s materials or equivalent materials, becomes legally required.  In the interim, Ontario employers – particularly large employers – should begin thinking about the logistics of training new and possibly current workers on those materials. (The Ministry has previously released draft training materials for non-supervisory workers, for consultation).

The Ministry states, “If you already provide your supervisors with the information covered in this program through other supervisory training, you may not need to deliver this program. When the Ministry of Labour has completed an equivalency guideline, it will be available to employers in order to find out whether your program meets the required learning objectives of this program.”

The draft supervisory workbook and employer guide may be accessed here.

Mandatory Supervisory Safety Training Coming to Ontario: MOL Releases Draft Workbook and Employer Guide for Consultation

Amendments to the Ontario OHSA in Force as of April 1, 2012

Back in 2011, Ontario employers learned that the government had passed Bill 160, or An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to occupational health and safety and other matters.  This Bill represented part of a major overhaul of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system.  Although the Bill received royal assent on June 1, 2011, many of the amendments were not scheduled to come into force until April 1, 2012, or later dates to be proclaimed.  The amendments that came into force on April 1, 2012 include the following: 

  • Section 50 of the OHSA has been amended to permit an inspector to refer matters involving reprisals to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the “Board”) where the circumstances warrant such a referral, the worker consents, and the matter in question has not been dealt with by way of final and binding arbitration under a collective agreement or by way of a worker complaint to the Board.
     
  • Section 50 of the OHSA has also been amended to permit the Office of the Worker Advisor to provide support to non-unionized workers in respect of reprisal complaints.  Similarly, the Office of the Employer Advisor has been granted permission to provide support to employers with less than 100 employees (or such other number as may be prescribed) who are responding to reprisal complaints.
     
  • Section 63 of the OHSA has been amended to ensure certain protections for employees of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor against their compellability as witnesses in legal proceedings and their obligation to produce the documentation or information they have gathered while acting within the scope of their employment.
     
  • Section 65 of the OHSA has been amended to include employees of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor in the list of individuals who have immunity from civil proceedings where they have exercised their duties or powers under the OHSA in good faith.
     
  • Section 70 of the OHSA has been amended to allow the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to make regulations with respect to the functions of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor.
Amendments to the Ontario OHSA in Force as of April 1, 2012