The Ontario Government has introduced a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act(“OHSA”) which requires employers provide mandatory safety awareness training to workers and supervisors. Employers have time to prepare for these new requirements as the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training regulation does not come into force until July 1, 2014.

Employers must ensure that a worker completes a safety awareness training program as soon as practicable,which covers the following topics:

  • the duties and rights of workers, supervisors and employers under the OHSA;
  • the roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under the OHSA;
  • the role of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and entitles designated under section 22.5 of the OHSA such as health and safety associations;
  • common workplace hazards;
  • the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS); and,
  • occupational illness.

Employers are also required to ensure that supervisors complete a safety awareness training program within one week of performing work as a supervisor, which includes instruction on:

  • the duties and rights of workers, supervisors and employers under the OHSA;
  • the roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under the OHSA;
  • the role of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and entitles designated under section 22.5 of the OHSA such as health and safety associations;
  • how to recognize, assess and control workplace hazards and evaluate controls designed to prevent workplace accidents; and,
  • sources of information on the OHSA.

The new regulation also imposes record keeping obligations on employers. An employer must maintain records demonstrating that workers and supervisors completed the safety awareness training or that they are exempt from doing so. Further, upon request an employer must provide workers or supervisors with written proof of the completion of training for up to six months after a worker or supervisor has been employed.

Employers should review current training programs to determine if they fulfill the requirements of the new regulation and revise as necessary. Employers will also need to establish systems to maintain training and exemption records.The Ministry of Labour has developed workbooks and e-learning modules to assist employers comply with the regulation. However, providing more thorough training will increase workplace safety and will assist in demonstrating due diligence in relation to a workplace accident.