Ontario has recently introduced two proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act): Bill 84 and Bill 95.

Bill 84: Workplace death, injury and illness registry

Bill 84, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Workplace Deaths, Critical Injuries and Occupational Illnesses Registry), 2008, requires that the Minister of Labour create a registry containing information about all deaths, injuries and occupational illnesses that are required to be reported by employers pursuant to certain sections of the Act.

The registry must contain the following information:

  1. the name of the employer;
  2. the nature of the employer's business;
  3. the job title of the worker who was killed, injured or who suffered the occupational illness;
  4. a description of the death, injury or occupational illness of the worker; and
  5. such other information as may be prescribed by regulation.

The Bill also stipulates the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the safeguarding of "personal health information" within the meaning of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 will apply to disclosure of "personal information." Given this stipulation, it will be interesting to see what details employers will be required to provide, especially with respect to the description of the nature of the death, injury or occupational illness.

First reading of Bill 84 was carried on June 2, 2008. It is not yet known when the Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent, and therefore, when it will be in effect.

Bill 95: The use of scents in the workplace

A topical issue that is now garnering legislative attention is addressed in Ontario Bill 95, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Scented Products), 2008, which requires employers to prepare policies and maintain programs with respect to the use of scented products in the workplace.

Bill 95 would amend subsection 25(2) of the Act by making it a duty of employers to:

  1. prepare and review, at least annually, in consultation with employees, a written policy on the use of scented products in the workplace; and
  2. develop and maintain a program to implement the policy referred to above.

It is important to note that the Bill, as drafted, does not require employers to adopt a specific scent policy, such as a scent-free or scent-reduction policy. It merely aims at ensuring that all employers consult employees about what is reasonable for their particular workplace and implement an appropriate fragrance strategy and a program that fits their particular work environment.

First reading of Bill 84 was carried on June 12, 2008 and no further steps have been taken. The Bill would become law in Ontario six months after receiving Royal Assent.

Helpful information regarding scents and scent-related policies can be found at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety's website.