On May 11, 2010, Bill 64, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Scented Products), 2010, was introduced in the Provincial Legislature. If successful, Bill 64 will amend subsection 25 (2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The amended section will require employers to prepare and review annually, in consultation with workers, written policies on the use of scented products in the workplace. Employers will also be required to develop and maintain programs to implement such policies.
The policy employers must draft in consultation with workers should identify the purpose of the scent-free policy, list restricted products and identify any health issues caused by these restricted products. The policy must also identify those individuals responsible for managing the policy in the workplace. In order to identify restricted products, the employer must consult with workers to determine what is meant by “scent-free” and to identify what types of products contain scents.
It is important to note that Bill 64, as drafted, does not require employers to adopt a specific scent policy, such as a scent-free or scent-reduction policy. The Bill aims at ensuring that all employers consult employees about what is reasonable for their particular workplace and implement an appropriate program that fits their particular work environment. Regardless of when the requirement for a scented products policy is legislated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is prudent for employers to consider creating a policy in order to manage liability with respect to possible human rights violations. There are human rights implications for employers that fail to provide a scent controlled workplace. Sensitivity to scented products, most often referred to as environmental sensitivities, is a disability that is recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has released a policy on Environmental Sensitivities that can be viewed at http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca.
Currently, Health Canada is the government body responsible for regulating cosmetics under the Food and Drug Act and the Cosmetic Regulations. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) provides Health Canada and Environment Canada additional authority to regulate chemical ingredients that meet the legal definition of "toxic."
First reading of Bill 64 was carried on May 11, 2010 and no further steps have been taken. The Bill would become law in Ontario six months after receiving Royal Assent. Bill 64 was introduced as a Public Bill by Mr. Dave Levac, MPP (Brant).