The Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations under Part II of the Canada Labour Code have been revised for the first time since 1987. The regulations came into force on June 3, 2010. These new provisions were implemented with the goal of modernizing and updating regulatory provisions related to workplace health and safety in the marine sector. The main goals sought by legislators through the update of these regulations were to:

  • harmonize the regulations with the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, while recognizing the special working conditions of onboard employees in order to ensure that they enjoy the same level of health and safety protections as offboard employees
  • update the regulations to promote consistency with the Canada Shipping Act 2001  
  • incorporate updated technology and current national and international marine industry standards
  • implement requirements from the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006)

The key changes to be implemented as a result of the new provisions are:

  • the development, implementation and monitoring of a hazard prevention program (Part 7)
  • the development, implementation and monitoring of a violence prevention program (Part 5, Division 2)
  • the implementation of new requirements derived from the MLC 2006 pertaining to crew accommodation, recreational facilities, sanitation and medical care (Parts 3, 4 and 6)

The costs of implementation of the hazard and violence prevention programs will be high in the first few years of operation. However, the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs. These provisions are anticipated to help Canada’s marine industry become more competitive in the international market through the avoidance of economic loss generated by occupational illness and workplace accidents.

Further, the adopted MLC 2006 provisions reflect and clarify practices that the Canadian Marine industry has been operating under for years. Many newer large vessels already comply with the conven-tion as they are required to follow these provisions if they wish to dock in international ports where the convention has already been ratified. Vessels built prior to the coming into force of the regulations will not be affected by the provisions derived from the MLC 2006. Therefore, these specific provisions are not expected to have a significant cost impact on employers.

While Canada has yet to ratify the International MLC 2006, the revisions to the Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations support the eventual ratification of this Convention by Canada, which has long been supported by Canadian ship owners.

The Transport Canada Marine Safety Health and Safety Officers are delegated the responsibility of enforcing these regulations. Booklets and information pamphlets on the new provisions are available on the Transport Canada website.

Marine workers remain protected by the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations when not aboard a vessel.