O. Reg. 297, the regulation requiring all workers in Ontario under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to be trained in their fundamental duties and rights under the Act, takes effect July 1, 2014.
The regulation, published in November 2013, followed from a review panel recommendation resulting from an investigation into the death of 4 workers who died when a scaffold collapsed on a building in 2009. The objective of the regulation is to ensure that all workers covered by the OHSA, including supervisors are aware of the requirements.
It is worth noting that a Supervisor is a person who has “charge of a workplace or authority over a worker”. Consequently even those employees who don’t have direct reports may still meet the definition of a supervisor under the OHSA.
All workers (the definition includes managers and supervisors) must receive documented training in: the duties/responsibilities of the various workplace parties- i.e. workers, supervisors, employers, Ministry of Labour and Workplace Safety & Insurance (WSIB or ‘workers’ comp.’) Board/Agencies; common workplace hazards, WHMIS and occupational illness (including the latency concept).
In addition, Supervisors must also be aware of: how to recognize/assess/control/ hazards; how to evaluate the effectiveness of hazard controls; and sources of information related to occupational health and safety.
The Ministry has indicated on their website that a supervisor who completes the basic Supervisor’s awareness course before July 1, 2014 does not have to also complete the Worker course.
The employer must provide and document the training for supervisors within 1 week of the supervisor assuming duties unless the employer has documented evidence of prior training meeting the objectives of O.Reg. 297. Thus current supervisors must be trained by July 8, 2014 if an adequate file is not available.
Other (non-supervisory) workers must be trained “as soon as practicable” after the July 1, 2014 “in force” date.
The Ministry notes in their Supervisor’s workbook that, under the employer’s duty to appoint “competent” supervisors, the training “starts here…, but it doesn’t end here.” The completion of the awareness program must be enhanced with the information and programs that pertain to the specific workplace.
This basic awareness requirement is the start of a suite of potential enhancements to OHSA mandatory training with expected additions (drafts are currently on the Ministry website) for fall protection and enhanced JH&SC (Joint Health & Safety Committee) certification training. These subsequent courses also include standards for the development and delivery of the training. The Ministry expects to introduce these regulatory requirements in 2014/2015.