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5 ways to avoid fines under Bill 177

Health and safety violators could face substantially higher fines under the latest amendments to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act. These amendments, introduced in Bill 177, The Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act, are officially in effect.

WSPS Consultant Gord Leffley sees the changes as an incentive to prevent injuries - and prosecutions - by ensuring your workplace meets or exceeds legislated requirements. He offers five possible next steps, but first, more on the changes.

3 changes you need to know about

The most significant amendments made by Bill 177 to the Occupational Health and Safety Act include:

  • quadrupling maximum fines for individuals from $25,000 to $100,000 and tripling maximum fines for corporations from $500,000 to $1,500,000. These are the first increases since 1990.
  • extending the limitation period for filing charges from one year since an alleged offence occurred to one year from the date that an inspector becomes aware of it.
  • requiring employers to notify the Ministry of Labour when joint health and safety committees or representatives identify potential structural inadequacies that could be a source of danger to workers. 

5 next steps prevent injuries and avoid fines

  1. Figure out what compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations looks like for your workplace. For example, Section 25(2)(d) requires that employers inform workers of any hazard in the workplace. How? That varies from organization to organization. The act gives employers discretion to figure out what would work best.
  2. Know your risks. Conduct a thorough hazard assessment. Already have one on file? Bring it up to date. If your workplace has a quality system such as ISO or QS 9000, then 90% of a hazard assessment may already be in place. If you don't have a quality system, you've probably already assessed the most significant hazards workers face. Build on it. Use the hazard assessment to create a hazard control program.
  3. Create a thorough inspection process that identifies hazards, determines underlying causes, recommends corrective action, and reports on outcomes.
  4. Promptly investigate anything that goes wrong. Learn from the results, and make improvements as you go.
  5. Hold onto records of incidents, investigations and follow-up activities. They can help demonstrate due diligence if the need arises. Regardless of how long ago they occurred, they will always have some value.

How we can help

  • Download a free hazard management tool, which provide workplaces with a step-by-step approach for recognizing, assessing and controlling hazards.
  • Gain a working knowledge of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations with Safety, Health and the Law, a one-day course.
  • Speak to a Consultant. We can support customers with hazard identification, risk analysis and control verification and validation activities.
  • Join WSIB Health & Safety Excellence program, a WSIB performance-based premium rebate program, and systematically improve your health and safety program and earn rebates of up to 6% of your WSIB premiums.