In mid-November of 2013, the Ontario government filed a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that requires employers to ensure that workers and supervisors receive mandatory safety awareness training. The Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13), will come into effect on July 1, 2014, allowing workplace parties time to prepare.
This blog post will provide you with more information about this regulation, an overview of your new training obligations, and identify a number of resources that you can use to assist you in becoming compliant.
What does this mean for employers?
According to this new regulation, employers are required to:
- Ensure that workers complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program as soon as reasonably possible and supervisors within one week of working as a supervisor
- Maintain a record of the training completed by workers and supervisors
- Provide a worker or supervisor with written proof of completion of the training, if requested by the worker or supervisor (up to six months after ceasing to work for the employer)
In addition to these new training requirements, employers must continue to carry out their pre-existing duties and obligations under the OHSA. These include the general duty to “provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety or the worker.” (Clause 25 (2)(a))
Overview of training obligations
The mandatory training program for both workers and supervisors must include instruction on the duties and rights of all workplace parties under the OHSA as well as the role of each the following: Joint Health and Safety Committees, Health and Safety Representatives (under the OHSA), the Ministry of Labour, WSIB, and Health and Safety Associations.
According to the regulation, training for workers must also include instruction on:
- Common workplace hazards and occupational illnesses
- Information and instruction requirements set out in the WHMIS Regulation
According to the regulation, training for supervisors must also include instruction on:
- How to identify, assess and manage workplace hazards
- Sources of information on occupational health and safety
The Ministry of Labour is providing a number of resources and tools to help employers become compliant with this new regulation by July 2014. Employers are not required to use these specific ministry resources, as long as the training they provide covers all of the necessary content outlined above (Source: MOL).
There are a number of workbooks available for employers that can be printed or ordered through Publications Ontario. In addition to this, there are two electronic training tools available online for free. These modules can be completed by workers and supervisors as one way to meet the minimum training required by the regulation:
Already conducted health and safety training at your workplace? Be sure to review the content of that training and determine whether it was sufficient to fulfill the requirements of this new legislation. When reviewing your existing training, be sure to also identify all parties who may fall within the definition of worker and supervisor, ensuring that they have been or will be provided with the necessary training. (Source: Hicks Morley)
If your previous training meets the basic content requirements outlined by the OHSA, and there is written proof that the training was completed, you will likely be exempt from the need to retrain workers and supervisors. If that is not the case, employers should seek to revise their training programs to be in compliance with this new regulation.
Although there are basic training materials available to employers (see resources above), there are benefits to providing more complete and in-depth health and safety training to new or existing workers and supervisors. Not only will it likely enhance worker and supervisor safety, it will also aid in the prevention of accidents and ultimately the reduction of WSIB costs on the employer’s NEER statement.
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