New Changes Will Affect All Ontario Workers

Job Safety Seton Canada

Consultations are underway to draft new Ontario Health and Safety rules which will require all workers covered by the OHSA receive health and safety training as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is currently seeking input from stakeholders and plans to issue a draft of the new regulations by July and implement them as of the New Year 2014.

The changes are being driven by the 2010 Dean Commission Report, officially known as the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety and chaired by former cabinet secretary Tony Dean.

Recommendations

The recommendations are more evolutionary than revolutionary but seek to entrench a culture of safety in Ontario workplaces.

One of the recommendations is for every Ontario “worker and supervisor to undergo mandatory information about workplace rights and responsibilities before they start their job.”

It will require every construction worker to have entry-level training on construction site safety, rigorous training standards for working at heights and tougher penalties, especially in high risk tasks where death and injury could result.

Seeking Input for Regulations

Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis says he doesn’t expect much in the way of push back or complaints from employers as he seeks their input for the draft regulations.

“The report was a collaborative report,” he said. “And most employers in Ontario probably meet or exceed the standard we are looking at. And we’d like to hear from them too because I want to know what they’re doing that works.”

For those who may fall short, he said, it’ll be more of a fine tuning upgrade, but for those who haven’t got the resources, there will be books and online programs to help them understand their new responsibilities and a path on how to meet them.

The Task Force also noted cost is tantamount on many employers’ minds in these tough times. It said about $220 million from employer’s WSIB premiums is spent on Health and Safety service delivery now and that the suggested changes, including mandatory training, could be accomplished within the existing framework and cost allowances.

“While greater investments would further improve prevention or enforcement, or both, the Panel believes that our recommendations can be fully funded within the current spending allocation,” the report said. “The Panel believes that, if implemented, these changes would support better health and safety outcomes in the workplace and improved value for the investment that employers make in prevention and enforcement.”

Gritziotis couldn’t agree more: “Investing in health and safety tells employees you care. They’re more likely to be more productive and more loyal.”

New Rules will be Retroactive

The new rules would apply to all workplaces covered by the OHSA including industrial plants, construction site, health care, farming and mining.

However, the rules will be retroactive so employers will have a transitional period between July 1, 2013 when the new rules will be published and Jan. 1, 2014 to ensure existing workers and supervisors complete their awareness training.

Supervisors and Workers

The rules will apply to both supervisors and workers and all categories going forward however, those employers who already have a program in place which demonstrably meets or exceeds the new standards and can document their employees have been through it will be “deemed to be in compliance.”

The changes are just the beginning says Gritziotis, the man in charge of putting it all in place.

“Tony Dean’s report made 46 recommendations,” he said. “I consider it the most important kind of change in Canada in Health and Safety because it goes beyond just young workers and we’re saying it is for all workers and supervisors. It’s going to have immediate impact in a positive way.”

New Requirements

New requirements for new training programs regulations will be made under the OHSA.

The proposed new regulation would also include existing provisions currently found in O. Reg. 780/94 (Training Programs). The existing O. Reg. 780/94 would be revoked.

The plan is that new training requirements could be added to this new regulation as they are proposed, approved and made.

In addition, the Ministry proposes to make a consequential amendment to O. Reg. 414/05 (Farming Operations) in order to make the requirements apply to farming operations.

Proposed Minium Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA:

Workers must know:

  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Health and Safety partners
  • Hazard recognition
  • Right to be informed of hazards
  • Reference to an employer’s obligations to provide information and instruction to workers about controlled products as required under Regulation 860 (WHMIS) of the OHSA
  • Latency and illness related to occupational disease

Supervisor Awareness

  • Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA
  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Health and Safety partners
  • Recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of hazards
  • Where resources and assistance are available

Source: Ministry of Labour

Comments

  1. Brian Mellon CRSP/NCSO says:

    The intent of this legislation is definately a great idea – especially for the workers and supervision folks who don’t always understand their Rights and Responsibilities.

    Like any rule however, how do we monitor compliance on the part of all employers? Enforcement (Pehaps the wrong term) is difficult with few to many OHS Officers following up. We then have to rely on employers to comply and based on the industry safety statistics, that does not always equate into positive outcomes.

    Production is always the trump card while safety is the wild card. We need a card where everyone wins.

  2. Brian Mellon CRSP/NCSO says:

    There is also a definate distinction between “Education” and “Training”. Education is the giving or providing of information to people. You have to wonder how many of the workers and supervisors are interested in this “Education” and how many are there because they have to be.

    “Training” has a hands on component that helps to engrain the knowledge into their (Workers and Supervisors) daily activities. How will they measure this training to ensure understanding and that the information provided is being utilized/followed in day to day work activities?

  3. Ian Harvey says:

    Hi Brian
    Good points.
    I think the difference between compliance, the “what do we have to do to be legal” and the whole shift towards safety as a culture is part of what’s at play here.
    If you create a culture of safety, working with behavioural psychology more than the big stick of the law, where everyone from the top down to the bottom up is responsible for safety and has a voice and you imprint that on your corporate culture, compliance becomes secondary.
    Yeah, it sounds a little like wishful thinking but I think the best practices show that culture and behaviour show better results than policing and penalties.
    Now, having said that, you need the latter because it underpins everything you do on the “soft skills” side, that is talking the talk and walking the walk. There have to be consequence on the legislative side for sure.
    But it’s like drunk driving. Until we created a culture where it was not permissible to joke about how drunk someone was when they left the party and drove home, the law was only effective if someone was caught before they had an accident.
    Does this make sense to you? Joking about near misses or how bad the air is in a mine, for example, isn’t acceptable any more. Brushing off safety because you wanna be the macho man isn’t acceptable. Safety is everyone’s priority from the President to the labourer on the job.
    In implementing the Dean Report, perhaps we’re moving towards a regime where creating a culture – through these kinds of changes – is the end goal rather than just saying, you’ll be fined if you don’t comply?
    Thanks for taking the time to engage in a conversation! I’d be interested in your reaction.
    regards
    Ian

    • Brian Mellon CRSP/NCSO says:

      Building the Safety Culture where people care about the safety of themselves and other is indeed, very important. Some organizations have begun to move in this direction – others are more reluctant. The need for a “Safe Production Culture” mindset is vital if we want to change the workplace permanently.

      Responsibility and Accountability seem to be missing in some organizations and even in the actions and mindset of the workers, supervision and some cases – management. We live in a “Privilaged” society and we have a generation of “Gimme” versus those who have a sense of ownership, pride in their work, pride in the quality of their work and who are willing to accept responsibility if they make a mistake. Mistakes are a learning opportunity and should be used as such, but the punitive mind set of many people prevent that from occuring.

      People like to laugh at their mistakes and the mistakes of others, and that will be a difficult behaviour to change as people are not only influenced by their fellow workers, but by their family, friends and life experiences. Even today, a right of passage is often measured by toughness, ability, knowledge, how much you can drink, and my pet peeve – the term “Common Sense” and how much of that a person possesses.

  4. By introducing such safety rules, I am sure accidents on construction sites will reduce drastically. By being a part of health and safety training programs, workers will have a better understanding about how to avoid accidents at the workplace.

    • Brian Mellon CRSP/NCSO says:

      I agree Alan that the more information people have the better able they are to plan their work activities and to ensure they are doing these job tasks safely.

      It has been my experience however, that not all workers are interested in these new rules and programs, but are interested in being employed and will do what it takes to remain employed, even if that means circumnavigating the rules that are in place to protect them.

      Not all employers will accept these changes in a positive “Let’s Get Better” manner. Most see safety as an add-on function that costs them money. They fail to see the “Safe Production Culture” that is quite frankly – the ultimate answer.

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