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Mandatory awareness training for Ontario workers and supervisors as of July 2014!

Christmas has come early for health and safety professionals in Ontario, with the gift of a new law, Regulation 297/13 added to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and filed on November 14, 2013. The regulation is the first of its kind in Canada and mandates that all workers and supervisors must complete basic health and safety awareness training.

Regulation summary

This awareness training comes into force July 1, 2014, allowing workplace parties time to prepare. One way to prepare is to take the time to read the regulation, available here.

The basic awareness training for workers requires that an employer ensure that a worker who performs work for the employer completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets the requirements set out in subsection (3) of the regulation as soon as practicable.

The basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors requires that an employer ensure that a supervisor who performs work for the employer completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets the requirements set out in subsection (3) of the regulation within one week of performing work as a supervisor.

To learn about the Health and Safety Awareness training in detail, visit the Ministry of Labour website.

Resources for health and safety awareness training 

Health and safety consultants will probably offer many different resources to help clients comply with the new regulation. However this time, the Ministry of Labour has also provided two resources that employers can use to complete the mandatory training for workers and supervisors. The first is a Workbook and the second is an eLearning Module.

Review of the Ministry of Labour training resources

  1. Workbook: As the health and safety professional at my workplace, I have taken the time to review both options. The workbook is downloadable and printable or hard copies can be ordered online through Service Ontario. The workbooks are available in a variety of languages including: French, Chinese, Porteguese, Punjabi, Spanish and Urdu. The workbooks are a basic resource but could work well as part of a facilitated group training session. However just providing the workbooks as a standalone may meet compliance but will not improve the health and safety prevention culture at your workplace.
  2. eLearning Module: The online modules for Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps and for Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps are a more developed resource. At this time they are only available in English.

Rating the online modules

Pros: The eLearning modules are more than a basic PowerPoint. They include personalization and worker specific contexts through embedded videos, including video testimonials from previously injured workers. There are some interactive features to the modules, with true and false questions popping up and a short quiz after each of the steps. At the end of the module there is a printable certificate from the Ministry of Labour
Cons: The online learning modules take 45 – 60 minutes to complete. They require focus and concentration and some of the screens have a lot of reading or text on them. You must complete the session in one sitting because the module is unable to keep track of your progress. If for any reason you get bumped out or run out of time, you must start all over from the beginning and you can’t skip through sections or fast forward through videos.

You could show the module as part of a group training session – but only one printable certificate per view is permitted. At this point there is no option for employers to create multiple certificates if the session is completed with a group.  Another issue for employers is that they need to think very carefully about who they assign to take the worker training and who they assign to take the supervisor training because of the broader implications this has for the organization.


The information provided by the mandatory training provides a basic awareness about safety in the workplace environment for workers and supervisors. Workplace specific hazards will still need to be addressed. The goal is to create an understanding of health and safety requirements and a culture of prevention in workplaces across Ontario. As the Ministry of Labour continues to grow its prevention mandate we can expect to see further development of resources similar to the caliber provided by As taxpayers we would hope that provinces could coordinate and share health and safety resources rather than duplicating and triplicating materials. However as Ontario employers, it is great to have some of the MOL training resources provided in order to comply to the regulations.

Happy training – and remember “Christmas in July” as your deadline for getting the new mandatory health and safety awareness training in place at your workplace!

Marcia Scheffler, M.A. CHRP

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Marcia Scheffler

Human Resources Generalist at Wawel Villa
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate is a Human Resources Generalist with M.A. working full-time as a Senior HR Officer. She is interested in the intersection of human resources theory and current best practices in HR. Read more
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