Effective July 1, 2014, employers in Ontario will be required to ensure that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program as soon as practicable, pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act). A supervisor must be trained within one week of performing work as a supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement is an offence under the Act; upon conviction for an offence, a corporation can be fined up to $500,000 and an individual can be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months.
To assist you with your upcoming mandatory health and safety training requirements, we have summarized our top six tips below.
- Check to see if your current training program complies with the Regulation. Employers are not required to provide additional training to employees if they can prove that workers and supervisors have already completed a health and safety training program that meets the requirements set out in Regulation 297/13 (the Regulation). To rely upon this exemption, employers should be able to provide sufficient evidence (proof of completion certificates, training program documents, etc.) upon inspection. For your reference, the mandatory requirements for training programs are summarized in the chart at the end of this article.
- Access the free online training resources. The Ministry of Labour has created training resources and booklets that meet the minimum requirements of the Regulation; these are available online. These resources allow employers to (a) require workers and supervisors to complete online learning modules, or (b) use the Ministry booklets to provide training directly to workers and supervisors.
- Be aware of the training requirements for supervisors. There are additional training requirements for supervisors. If a supervisor performs work as a supervisor and receives the basic health and safety training for supervisors prior to July 1, 2014, retraining is not required. However, employees who become supervisors or receive training after July 1, 2014 must receive the basic health and safety training for workers and for supervisors.
- Maintain training and exemption records. Employers are required to maintain a record of basic occupational health and safety awareness training completed by workers and supervisors as well as a record of the workers and supervisors who are exempt from the new training requirement. Employers must also be prepared to provide written proof of the completion of training or exemption upon request. If employees complete the Ministry’s online learning modules, your organization should retain copies of the completed “Proof of Completion” certificates.
- Continue to provide supplemental training. Keep in mind that all other requirements under the Act continue to apply, so the basic occupational health and safety awareness training program should be supplemented with any existing health and safety policies and procedures that are specific to your organization. For example, employers are required to provide information and instruction on workplace violence and workplace harassment under the Act. Further, any training requirements under the Act regarding any job or task will continue to apply.
- Consider performing an occupational health and safety audit. If your organization is currently reviewing its health and safety training program, this may be a good opportunity to perform a general occupational health and safety audit of your organization, which could include the following items:
- Are all of the necessary posters, policies and a copy of the Act posted in the workplace?
- Have all first aid training requirements been satisfied?
- Has your organization developed and implemented its workplace violence and harassment policies and programs?
- Does your organization have the necessary health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee, and has that individual or committee carried out the prescribed duties?
If an inspector from the Ministry of Labour observes a violation of any of these requirements during an inspection, the inspector may issue an order for compliance and the organization and individuals could be subject to prosecution for non-compliance.
In order to comply with the Regulation, training programs for workers and supervisors must provide instruction on all of the topics set out in the chart below.
Click here to view table.