Employers, supervisors and workers are facing new or increased fines on tickets issued by Ministry of Labour inspectors for nearly 300 health and safety infractions. These changes appear as amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
The act allows inspectors to issue tickets on site to employers, supervisors and workers for specific contraventions. Ticket fines now range from $250 to $350 for workers, $450 to $550 for supervisors and $550 to $650 for employers.
With the possibility of costly penalties adding up, employers should look at ways to ensure they are in compliance, says WSPS Consultant John VanLenthe. Find his suggestions, and more about the amendments, below.
What's changed and how
The changes to the act are set out in schedules under Regulation 950 of the Provincial Amendments Act by order of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. Here are some examples of changes that could affect your workplace:
- employer failing to ensure that a worker completes the province's mandatory health and safety awareness training program (new fine, $550),
- employer failing to ensure that a worker has valid working at heights training (new fine, $550),
- supervisor failing to ensure a worker wears protective footwear that complies with Section 23 of O. Reg. 213/91 (new fine, $450),
- worker beginning work on electrical installations, equipment or conductors without ensuring safety requirements have been met according to Sections 42(1) and 42(2) of O. Reg. 851 (new fine $250).
Take steps to ensure tickets aren't issued in the first place
"Ticketing is one of the methods Inspectors use to seek compliance," says John. "The Inspector could also issue a stop-work compliance order, which would take the equipment or process out of service until you comply with the order and obtain the ministry's approval to resume. That's very costly in terms of production loss. The best way to avoid tickets, orders, or even greater consequences, such as injuries and prosecutions, is to ensure you’re in compliance with the act and regulations."
Here's what John recommends:
- maintain constant vigilance. For example, how do you ensure a machine guard is not removed or still works? "Put systems in place," says John. "This could mean adding machine guard checks to the joint health and safety committee's monthly inspection checklist, or including a guard check in the operator's pre-shift report. As a supervisor, check to make sure those critical items are in place and functioning.",
- conduct annual compliance audits. "Once a year, go through the act and regulations, highlight every section that applies to you, and determine if you are in compliance and what you are doing to maintain compliance. If you have designated substances in your workplace, for example, ask, 'Am I updating my designated substances assessments every year? Am I reviewing results with the joint health and safety committee? Do I have medical surveillance in place?' If you can't do the audit yourself, ask us to do one," says John.
How we can help
- Use WSPS' new Legislation Tracker to review the schedule changes so you know what inspectors will be looking for.
- Improve your compliance by scheduling an annual legal compliance audit with one of our expert Consultants. We can pinpoint where you are not in compliance, why, and what you can do about it.