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Small business fined $60,000 after ignoring orders

A small business in the Ottawa area that ignored Ministry of Labour orders - despite repeat visits by an inspector who provided compliance solutions - has been fined $60,000 and is no longer in operation.

The inspector first visited the business, a coffee shop, after an incident had occurred. Following an investigation, the inspector issued 15 orders. To help the business comply with the orders, the inspector emailed a package of small business tools and resources to one of the company's directors. But despite four follow-up visits from the inspector over eight months, the business failed to comply with some of the orders. This led the Ministry of Labour to prosecute the employer, which resulted in the fine.

"It didn't have to end this way," says Bill Chen, WSPS Regional Community Coordinator for Small Business. "The owners could have complied with the outstanding orders using simple tools and resources that are available online at no cost."

Where the owners came up short

The four orders that had not been complied with included mandatory requirements to:

  • post a copy of the employer's health and safety policy. A written policy helps promote your health and safety program. It takes into account the particulars of your workplace and communicates the employer's commitment to health and safety. WSPS' Small Business Centre has a draft policy you can download quickly.
  • ensure all workers complete a basic health and safety awareness training program. This training introduces workers to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and focuses on the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers.
  • ensure all supervisors complete a basic health and safety awareness training program. Similar to the worker awareness program, this version provides important information on supervisors' duties. Online training for both programs is available at no cost. Access the training from WSPS' Small Business Centre or the Ministry of Labour
  • conduct a violence risk assessment to identify potential sources of violence in the workplace. The owners could have downloaded all the tools they needed to meet this order, such as a violence hazard inspection form, violence policy, reporting procedure and more, at WSPS' Small Business Centre.

"It's not just about compliance," says Bill. 'It's about preventing injuries."

Failure to comply with these orders cost the employer $15,000 per order. Orders are issued to ensure workplaces meet minimum standards of protection. The employer could have avoided the orders, and the $60,000 fine, by using readily available resources to comply with legal requirements. As of April 2018, the business is no longer in operation.

Don't let this happen to you

WSPS' Small Business Centre can help you understand the key components of a health and safety program. It can also provide you with tools and resources to develop your program and maintain a healthy and safe workplace. If you still have questions, have a chat with a WSPS Duty Consultant: call 877-494-WSPS (9777).