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OHS for Supervisors – Everything You Need to Know


Well-trained supervisors are your organization's best asset.

As the frontline guardians of health and safety, they protect workers from harm and reduce risks for your company. Effective supervisors help decrease lost time, medical and disability costs, and help protect you from corporate liability, prosecution and fines (which have recently tripled under Ontario OHS legislation).

And there's more. Supervisors are in the best position to create a positive work culture by motivating and engaging workers. Employee engagement is linked to higher productivity and quality, lower staff turnover, plus higher profits and shareholder returns.

Isn't that worth investing in?

WSPS offers a wide range of expert training solutions to provide your supervisors with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. And when your supervisors succeed, your organization does too.

Supervisor Competency & Duties

Supervisors have tough jobs. They must manage all the day-to-day operations of the workplace, including production quotas, work schedules and work activity. On top of that, they are responsible for the health and safety of workers. In fact, supervisors are second only to employers in terms of their legal duties to protect workers from harm.

Under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, a supervisor is someone who has "charge of a workplace or authority over a worker." The term can apply to many people in a workplace, including those in management, on the shop floor, in a bargaining unit, and individuals whose job title does not include the word "supervisor."

The OHS Act requires employers to appoint "competent" people as supervisors. This means the supervisor must be:

  • qualified because of knowledge, training, and experience to organize the work and its performance.
  • familiar with the Act and its regulations
  • knowledgeable about any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace

The OHS Act also spells out the broad duties of a supervisor to:

  • provide a safe workplace and assign safe work
  • tell workers about job hazards
  • train workers to do their jobs safely
  • ensure workers work safely and use equipment and protective devices properly where required
  • take all reasonable precaution to protect workers from illness and/or injury

Beyond the Basics

Your organization needs supervisors who are not only competent, but are also effective. And that requires more comprehensive training.

Effective supervisors are safety leaders who:

  • educate, observe, guide, motivate and inspire workers
  • understand, identify and control risks and hazards
  • are familiar with applicable standards (CSA, ANSI, etc)
  • implement your health and safety policy and program
  • impart your company's value for health and safety
  • encourage worker feedback and much more

Safety leaders are better able to keep your workplace safe and garner your organization the rewards of lower costs, engaged workers, and higher productivity.

Recommended Training

Workplace issues and hazards are constantly changing and the demands on supervisors increasing. You can ensure your supervisors stay competent, current and effective with training in these key areas:

  • hazard identification, risk assessment and control
  • specific hazards in your workplace
  • due diligence
  • leadership and coaching
  • mental health
  • harassment and sexual harassment
  • accommodation and return to work

The Penalties

Well-trained supervisors can help you exercise and prove due diligence - that you've done everything possible to protect workers - in the event of workplace incidents and injuries. Failing to protect workers can lead to prosecutions and hefty fines for both your organization and your supervisors.

Recent amendments to the Ontario OHS Act (Bill 177, passed December 17, 2017) significantly increased fines for individuals and corporations. Individuals (supervisor, worker, director or officer) now face fines of $100,000 (up from $25,000) and/or 12 months in jail while corporations can be fined up to $1.5 million (up from $500,000).

The Ontario Ministry of Labour notes that people who are not called supervisor can still be charged under the Act. "Supervisor' safety responsibilities under the law aren't based on what a person is called but on the functions that person performs at the workplace."

How WSPS Can Help

Whether your supervisors are new or experienced, you'll find the training solutions to help them to create the safest, most productive, workplace possible. WSPS solutions will enable supervisors to:

Know the Law

Learn how to navigate the OHS Act and understand the duties of a supervisor.

Understand the Hazards Training

Learn how to recognize, assess and control the hazards in your workplace - from machines to racking to strains and sprains.

Gain Essential OHS Skills Training

Grow the skills needed to carry out OHSA legal duties.

Ensure Workers Know How to Work Safely

Take advantage of these great solutions to help supervisors train workers.

Learn How to Be Effective

Develop the skills to be a truly effective supervisor - skills like communicating and coaching, dealing with diversity and managing conflict.

Learn more about these and other WSPS solutions below.

Please note most e-courses are available in both English and French. For more information about French e-courses, check Service en Français.

Don't see what you need? Please use the search function on our website or contact Customer Care at or 1.877.494.WSPS (9777).