Ontario's Ministry of Labour ("MOL") will be
tasked with enforcing occupational health and safety awareness
training which is mandatory for all workers and supervisors in the
province beginning July 1, 2014. The requirements are established
in Ontario Regulation 297/13, Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and
Training, a new regulation pursuant to the Occupational Health
and Safety Act (the "OHSA").
The mandatory training, which contains a number of detailed
elements, was one of the key recommendations made by an Expert
Advisory Panel established following a scaffolding collapse at a
high-rise construction site, which resulted in the deaths of four
Detailed Training Required
Once the Regulation takes effect, employers will be responsible
for ensuring that workers receive health and safety awareness
training as soon as practicable. Supervisors will also be required
to obtain training within a week of performing work as a
While the MOL has published materials with which to conduct the
required training, businesses remain free to use health and safety
training programs that are already in place, so long as they
satisfy the legislated requirements. The MOL is presently preparing
a checklist which will allow employers to verify whether their
existing health and safety training programs meet the new required
Employer Compliance And Record-Keeping Obligations
The new Regulation will not have its own compliance and
enforcement provisions, and therefore will be subject to the
existing enforcement and penalty provisions included in the OHSA.
Employers will be required to maintain records of worker and
supervisor training, including records of workers and supervisors
that are exempt from the new requirements. Employers will also have
to obtain proof from those claiming an exemption that they have
completed a satisfactory training program.
It should also be noted that the new training requirement does
not replace other hazard-specific, sector-specific, or
competency-specific training that may be required for supervisors
or workers under the OHSA or its regulations.
Recommendations For Employers
Employers will need to carefully review all of their obligations
as a result of the Regulation. This is particularly the case given
that a "worker" is defined in the OHSA to essentially
include any person who performs work or supplies services for
monetary compensation. Similarly, the concept of
"supervisor" has a broad interpretation and
Employers should review any health and safety training program
which they already have in place, as well as anything provided to
their workers in the past, to determine whether they satisfy the
MOL's new requirements. If the content of the training does not
meet the requirements outlined in the Regulation, the training
program will need to be revised. Employers will also need to be
able to provide written proof that any required training (whether
for new employees and supervisors or when being used to support an
exemption) has been completed.
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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