In recent months, we have received numerous inquires regarding the issuance of tickets under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, ("OHSA"). Although the amendment came into force very early this year, the hiring of 200 new health and safety enforcement staff and targeting inspections meant an increase in the number of tickets issued over the Fall months. Below are answers to some of your frequently asked questions regarding "ticketing"?
What is ticketing?
Ticketing is an enforcement tool that allows health and safety inspectors to issue on-the-spot offence notices, also known as "tickets", under the Provincial Offences Act for certain violations of OHSA regulations.
Acting as provincial offences officers, inspectors can issue tickets for health and safety violations in the construction, mining and diving sectors. This ability has now been expanded to include the industrial sector, which covers a variety of different areas, including automotive, logging, restaurants and retail.
Employers, supervisors and workers can now be issued tickets for certain violations of the OHSA’s industrial regulations including:
failing to wear fall protection equipment such as a harness and lifeline;
failing to use a machine with adequate guarding; and
failing to ensure a lifting device is operated safely.
Inspectors may issue tickets in the course of proactive workplace inspections, or as a result of investigating a complaint, an injury, or a work refusal. In the industrial sector, tickets for specified offences can be issued to employers, supervisors or workers.
In addition to issuing tickets, health and safety inspectors can enforce the OHSA by issuing an order to comply or a stop-work order. Other prosecution procedures under the Provincial Offences Act remain available as alternatives to ticketing.
Depending on the offence, the tickets carry fines, including court costs, of $200 or $300, as set by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. The proceeds collected from the fines go to the municipality in which the offence took place. In addition, there is a victim fine surcharge, which is directed into the provincial Victims’ Justice Fund account.
Options if you are issued a ticket
An employer, supervisor or worker has three options if issued a ticket:
Plead guilty by signing the guilty plea on the ticket and paying the set fine at the court office specified on the ticket.
Give notice of intention to appear in court and request a trial. At trial, plead guilty and make submissions respecting the fine before a provincial judge or justice of the peace. The provincial judge or justice may impose the set fine or reduce it.
Plead not guilty by giving notice of intention to appear in court and requesting a trial before a provincial judge or justice.
What are the implications of pleading guilty?
A "criminal record" per se, is not created by such charges as this is a provincial offence. However, a guilty plea will likely affect the outcome of future contraventions by the employer, supervisor or worker.
What if there is no set fine on the ticket?
If there is no set fine, it means that an assessment has not been made on the alleged contravention. Accordingly, the employer, supervisor or worker, to whom the ticket relates, must attend at the provincial court. A representative can attend on the defendant’s behalf, however, the representative must attend with written authorization from the defendant. In such cases, the maximum fine is $500 pursuant to section 12 of the Provincial Offences Act.
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