By July 1, 2014, all employers operating in the Province of Ontario – regardless of their industry sector, and regardless of their size – must have met the requirement to provide their workers and supervisors with occupational health and safety awareness training, pursuant to Ontario Regulation 297/13.
That Regulation came into effect in November of 2013, in response to the recommendations made by the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety in 2010; and it mandates that employers provide information and training to workers and supervisors on the following points:
- The duties and rights of workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”);
- The duties of supervisors and employers under the OHSA;
- The roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under the OHSA;
- The roles of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and designated health and safety organizations;
- Recognizing, assessing and controlling hazards in the workplace;
- The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS); and
- Occupational illness, including latency.
The Regulation requires employers to keep records of the training provided to workers and supervisors, and to make those records available to those individuals (and to the Ministry of Labour) for the duration of their employment and for a subsequent six-month period.
Recognizing that some employers may have already provided their workers and supervisors with OH&S awareness training, the Regulation also includes an exemption for employers who can demonstrate that the previous training has covered all of the prescribed elements listed above.
It is important to note that the new requirements imposed by Ontario Regulation 297/13 do not replace other training obligations prescribed throughout the OHSA and in other Regulations. For example, section 25(2) of the OHSA also requires employers to “provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker”; and “acquaint a worker or a person in authority over a worker with any hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any article, device, equipment or agent.”