Authored by Derek B.M. Ross.
Ontario employers, including charities, must ensure that all workers and supervisors complete basic health and safety awareness training by July 1, 2014.
The training must meet certain minimum requirements spelled out in Ontario Regulation 297/13 (see ss. 1(3) and 2(3)). If previous training provided to workers and supervisors meets these criteria, no further training may be needed. Otherwise, some form of re-training will be necessary.
The mandatory training can be conducted “in-house” or through private training providers, but this is not a requirement. Perhaps the simplest and most affordable way to comply with the Regulation is to partake in the online e-learning modules provided by the Ministry of Labour free of charge. Those modules can be accessed on the Ministry’s website. There is one module for workers (located here) and one for supervisors (located here), and each takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete. Participants can take the module either individually or in groups. The Ministry also has a number of written materials available, which cover the same content as the e-learning modules:
- “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps” (Worker Awareness Workbook)
- “An Employer Guide to Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps”
- “Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps” (Supervisor Awareness Workbook)
- “An Employer Guide to Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps”
It may not be necessary to use these written materials if workers/supervisors take the e-learning module (or equivalent training), although employers may choose to use them instead of, or in addition to, that training (for more information see the Ministry of Labour’s FAQ’s).
Requirement applies to all Ontario charities
Charities should be mindful that this mandatory training requirement applies regardless of their size, sector, or how “low-risk” their worksites might be – it extends to office spaces and construction sites alike.
In addition, the obligation to provide this training may extend beyond just employees to a charity’s contractors/agents as well. This is because the Regulation applies to everyone who meets the definition of a “worker”. A “worker” is defined as a “person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation…” The term “supervisor” is also broadly defined to include “a person who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker” (Ontario Health and Safety Act, s. 1). Charities should consider everyone in their workforce and determine whether they might be considered workers and/or supervisors, and ensure they complete the necessary training.
New record-keeping requirements
Once the training is complete, employers are required to maintain a record of it taking place. The Ministry of Labour provides a certificate to those who complete its online e-learning module. If charities opt for this training method, they should request a copy of this certificate from all workers or supervisors, and retain a copy for at least six months after the individual stops working for them.
Obligations are ongoing
After July 1, 2014, charities must ensure that new workers complete this training “as soon as practicable” (unless the worker completed such training in their previous employment, and the charity can verify this). Charities must also ensure that new supervisors complete the supervisor training within one week of beginning work as a supervisor.
There are some exemptions to these requirements, but they are limited (see the Regulation for more details).
The key point for many Ontario charities is summarized well by Adrian Miedema in a recent article as follows:
“For many employers, the simplest way to comply is to send all employees and supervisors an e-mail with a link to the [Ministry of Labour] modules and require them to complete the e-learning module, print off the completion certificate, and provide the certificate to you before July 1st.”
Of course, charities should also consider whether any additional health and safety training should be provided to their workers and supervisors, depending on the specific nature of their workplaces. For Christian ministries, this should be done not only to satisfy the above-noted legal requirements, but as part of their responsibility to protect those in their care and prevent accidents and harm wherever possible.
For more information about the new OHSA Regulation, see the Ministry of Labour’s resource page.
Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.