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Duties & Responsibilities

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) identifies three primary workplace parties – employer, supervisor and worker – and the duties and responsibilities of each. Discover how this set of interlocking duties combines to form your workplace’s Internal Responsibility System (IRS) and how it is the foundation of a sound safety program.


The OHSA identifies three primary workplace parties and the duties and responsibilities of each. This set of interlocking duties is referred to as the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) and is the foundation of a sound safety program. For the IRS to be effective, all workplace parties must work together to control hazards and prevent injuries and illnesses – everyone has a role to play.

Free Worker and Supervisor Awareness Training is available online through the MOL (see the Duties & Responsibilities Resources menu).

(owner, general manager, commonly recognized ‘boss’)
  • Comply with the laws
  • Develop safety rules
  • Train workers
  • Manage hazards
  • Provide safe equipment
  • Take every precaution reasonable
(manager, team leader, temporary supervisor)
  • Train workers
  • Manage hazards
  • Ensure equipment is used safely
  • Enforce safety rules
  • Take every precaution reasonable
(person paid to perform work or supply a service, including supervisors)
  • Report hazards, incidents and injuries to the supervisor
  • Follow safe work procedures and rules
  • Apply safety training
  • Use the safety equipment provided properly
  • Do not engage in horseplay
Worker Rights
  1. KNOW about hazards in the workplace
  2. PARTICPATE in their health & safety
  3. REFUSE unsafe work

See the Resources section for a copy of the Work Refusal Chart, which outlines the process for managing a work refusal.

Reprisals Prohibited

Under Section 50 of the OHSA, a worker cannot be threatened or punished for following the laws. For example: reporting a hazard, refusing unsafe work or for cooperating with the MOL during inspections or investigations.


The MOL has the power to issue work orders and tickets, as well as press charges for non-compliance. Contravening the OHSA and/or its regulations can have serious repercussions for both companies and individuals. Convictions can result in fines and jail sentences for anyone who is convicted.

  • The maximum fine for an individual is $100,000 (per contravention)
  • The maximum fine for a corporation is $1,500,000 (per contravention)

Convictions of an individual could result in up to 12 months in prison.

Note that in some circumstances, one action or failure to act, may represent several contraventions by itself. This means that an individual or corporation could face multiple charges for one incident.

Employment Standards

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets minimum standards for most workplaces in Ontario. Employers must comply with the ESA for hours of work, minimum wage, vacation time, termination notice and other standards.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Employers must meet the requirements for AODA with respect to policy, training and accessibility plans. For information about AODA standards visit


View a Duties & Responsibilities Video (4:49 mins) that provides an overview of the role everyone has to play in ensuring that health and safety requirements are met in the workplace.


Duties & Responsibilities | an overview of the duties and responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers.

Work Refusal Chart | Information to help employers navigate work refusals made by their workers. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.



Health and Safety Awareness for Ontario Supervisors (English) (1 hour) | This solution explains a supervisor's role and duties regarding health and safety at the workplace.

Health and Safety Awareness for Ontario Workers (English) (1 hour) | Learn about Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and your rights and responsibilities as a worker.


MOL Health and Safety Awareness Training for Workers and Supervisors

The OHSA requires health and safety awareness training for every worker and supervisor. Learn more about the regulation and requirements.

Oct 04, 2012

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