Beginning on July 1, 2014, all employers in Ontario must ensure
that their workers and supervisors complete a basic health and
safety training program ("Safety Awareness Training") to
ensure compliance with Regulation 297/13 to the Occupational
Health & Safety Act ("OHSA" or the
Here are five things you need to know about this new
It applies to all workplaces, regardless of the size or the
industry sector. Employers are not exempt just because their
workers operate primarily in an office environment.
Keep in mind that the term "workers" is defined
broadly in the Act and includes anyone who "performs work or
supplies services for monetary compensation." Temporary
employees, contractors and other service providers will be subject
to OHSA training requirements.
You need to have two Safety Awareness Training modules: one for
workers and one for supervisors. Supervisors have enhanced
responsibilities under the Act and employers must give them the
tools they need to fulfill those responsibilities. The content of
the Safety Awareness Training is mandated by Regulation 297/13 and
must address certain key topics, such as: the rights and
obligations of workers, supervisors and employers under the Act;
the roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and
safety committees; the role of the Ministry of Labour, the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and other similar
organizations; an update on common workplace hazards; information
on Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System and a briefing
on occupational illnesses.
This is not exactly a one-time obligation. Although OHSA
Regulation 297/13 does not require employers to repeat this Safety
Awareness Training on an annual basis, employers must retain
records showing that their existing workers and supervisors have
completed Safety Awareness Training and must also ensure that any
new hires have either already received the training elsewhere or
have been provided with Safety Awareness Training. Workers must
received the training "as soon as is practicable."
Supervisors must receive it within one week of commencing work.
Compliance will require ongoing effort and monitoring.
The training requirements will impact how you integrate new
employees and contractors into your workplace. You should review
and update your on-boarding process for new employees and temporary
hires to assist with record-keeping and compliance. You may also
wish to consider updating independent contractor agreements and
agreements with temporary help agencies to ensure that contractors
and staffing agencies undertake to provide their staff with Safety
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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