The Ontario Ministry of Labour recently announced a new voluntary occupational health and safety management system ("OHSMS") accreditation standard. Employers who successfully meet the accreditation criteria are eligible for WSIB rebates over a three-year period.
The accreditation standard is part of the Chief Prevention Officer's "Supporting Ontario's Safe Employers Program", the first program of its kind in Canada. Under sections 7.6.1 and 7.6.2 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Chief Prevention Officer may do the following with respect to an OHSMS:
- Establish standards that an OHSMS must meet in order to become an accredited H&S management system.
- Accredit an OHSMS management system that meets applicable accreditation standards.
- Give recognition to an employer who satisfies the CPO that it is a certified user of an accredited OHSMS.
Employers may use the WSIB's "Health and Safety Excellence Program" to implement an accredited OHSMS or they may develop their own system and apply to have it accredited. This means that employers who are accredited under COR™ or ISO 45001, for example, may use their existing OHSMS to meet the CPO's accreditation criteria. After implementing an OHSMS accredited by the CPO, employers must be audited, at their expense, by a third party to verify successful implementation of the OHSMS.
The program is open to any employer in Ontario, regardless of size or sector. The names of recognized employers will be posted on the MOL, Training and Skills Development's website. Employers will be able to refer to themselves as CPO-recognized. In order to be recognized, employers must have demonstrated compliance with the OHSA, which includes no Part III convictions for OHSA non-compliance within three years of the application and no ongoing prosecutions for OHSA non-compliance when applying.