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Training & Orientation

Training is an essential part of a health and safety program. It provides the knowledge and practice to prevent injuries and illness in the workplace. Some training programs will be delivered to everyone, while others are position- or task-specific.


The chart below outlines factors to consider as you build your training plan. While the Ministry of Labour specifies certain training requirements, as the employer, you also have a general duty to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of your workers. A good training program will provide your workers with the knowledge and skill to work safely.

(Who needs training)
  • New employees
  • Young workers
  • Promoted or transferred workers
  • Returning workers
  • Supervisors
  • Contractors
  • Suppliers/contractors and work-related visitors
  • Health & Safety Awareness for Worker
  • Health & Safety Awareness for Supervisors
  • Violence & Harassment
  • Emergency plan
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use and care
  • Job hazards
  • First Aid
  • Return to Work
  • When hired
  • After an extended absence
  • Before being exposed to hazards
  • Transferred to a new role
  • Refreshers to maintain competence
  • When a contract commences
(Delivery method)
  • In class
  • One-on-one
  • Online
  • Safety talks
  • Job shadowing
  • Supervisor feedback
(Assess learning)
  • Written quiz
  • Question and answer session
  • Practical test
  • Observation on the job

See the Resource section for sample training and orientation tools.

Who needs orientation and training?

The short answer is ‘everyone’. As the employer it’s your responsibility to provide information and training to protect the health and safety of your employees and other people in your workplace. The training content will vary depending on the role of each person and to which hazards they may be exposed.

New Employees
Take the time to help new employees understand how important a safe and healthy workplace is to you, and their roles and responsibilities. It may help you avoid an incident that could prove costly for your business.

Young Workers
Young workers may be eager to please their employer. They bring energy, enthusiasm and a fresh set of eyes into your workplace. In some cases, you may be their very first employer. The way you bring them on board, the information that you give them matters a lot: this experience will shape their understanding of what it means to work in a healthy and safe workplace and how they contribute to that – not just at your business, but the places they will work in the future. The first few months are critical. There are far too many young workers who are injured in the first days or weeks on the job. In fact, new and young workers in Ontario are three times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time. Take extra care to ensure they know the ropes:

  • Don’t take for granted that they will always know the right questions to ask – help them out
  • Have them shadow someone who sets a positive example
  • Praise them when you observe them following safe work procedures; correct them when they’re not

Returning Workers
Workers who have been on an extended leave (seasonal, maternity leave, etc.) should have an overview of the key information. In particular, you want to ensure that they know how to work safely with the equipment or processes that pose a risk. There may have been changes to a policy or process while they were away and they will need to be updated.

Supervisors have additional duties and responsibilities in the workplace. You will need to ensure they have the time and knowledge to recognize the job hazards and how to enforce company policies and safe work expectations. Remember, as the employer, you are required to appoint a “competent person” into the supervisory role. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), a competent person means a person who:

  • Is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance
  • Is familiar with the OHSA and Regulations that apply to the work
  • Has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace

Contractors, visitors and suppliers
Anyone who enters the premises for work-related activities should be held to the same standard as your employees. For example, your personal protective equipment (PPE) policy and violence and harassment policy should be extended to these individuals. Make a point to ask contractors, visitors and suppliers to ‘sign-in’ so that you have a record of their visit and know who is on-site in the event of an emergency. It’s good practice to provide information about your evacuation procedure and other polices at the sign-in book.

What information should you include in your orientation and training program?

The content of your training program can be organized in different ways. One example is:

  • Generic Orientation that covers information common to all workplace parties and can often be delivered in a group setting. Information like duties and responsibilities, hazard reporting, first aid procedures, violence and harassment policy, generic WHMIS and common workplace hazards fall into this category.
  • Job-specific hazard training focuses on teaching employees to work safely with the hazards to which they will be exposed while doing their job. This training would cover content such as safe work procedures, specific PPE use, care and replacement of PPE, lockout and tag-out procedures; job-specific WHMIS hazards.

(See the Resource section for a sample Orientation Training Checklist)

When do you need to train employees?

Employees should receive orientation their first day on the job, so that they understand everyone’s role and can contribute to an effective Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Most importantly, an employee needs to be trained on the correct way to do their job before they are left to work alone, so that the risk of injury or illness is minimized. It’s important to protect your workers and your business – an injured employee will not be able to support your business fully.

Refresher training is determined by legal requirements and the individual needs of your employees. For example, Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification training requires refresher training every three years. Whereas WHMIS does not have a specified expiry date but the onus is on the employer to ensure workers are competent and an annual review of the chemicals specific to your worksite is required.

Many businesses opt to conduct an annual refresher training session for all staff. Others implement a schedule of tail-gate talks and refresh information throughout the year. And if a particular employee is having a challenge, you can always provide one-on-one coaching. Remember to keep track of who is being trained and follow-up with anyone who misses a session. Training records are important to demonstrate due diligence.

How can you deliver the information?

For most topics you can choose the best method for training your employees. Consider that people learn differently and a one-size-fits-all approach is not always effective. Changing the modes of education – like including videos or webinars – will improve retention when it is combined with discussion and workplace-specific examples. Job shadowing and one-to-one training are often more effective for technical tasks.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act or Regulations prescribe how some training must be delivered. For instance:

Working from Heights: For firms in the construction sector and other firms who have a project that fall under the requirements of a construction project, Regulation 213 stipulates that this training must be conducted by an MOL-approved training provider.

JHSC Certification Training: Training must be provided by an MOL-approved training provider.

FIT testing: Requires a practical component to ensure that there is a secure seal.

Health & Safety Awareness Training (for Workers and Supervisors): Regulation 297/13 prescribes the content of the training but does not prescribe the method of training. Therefore you can choose how to deliver this information. The MOL does provide a free webinar training module accessible on their website.

Evaluation to assess learning

Training is an investment of time and money, so you’ll want to ensure that it has been effective. There are various types of assessments that can help confirm if an employee has understood the information and retained knowledge.

  • tests knowledge
  • provides immediate feedback
  • consistency (for documented quizzes)
Question and answer
  • can be conducted anytime
  • promotes discussion
  • reinforces knowledge
Practical test
  • tests skill and application
  • allows for immediate correction
  • supports different learning styles
  • good for technical tasks
Observation on the job
  • demonstration of knowledge and skill
    allows for coaching

See the Resource section for sample orientation and training tools.


Employee Health & Safety Handbook | A sample Employee Health and Safety Handbook (to support worker orientation training) which can be used as a template. Employers are encouraged to customize, reproduce, or use this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Employee Orientation and Training Checklists | Templates for managing the orientation and training of workers. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements:

Orientation & General Training Information | Orientation and general training information including, who needs training, when and what it should cover.

Training & Attendance Record | A simple template to track workers' training attendance. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Safety Checks | Use our safety checks to provide information to workers on how to work safely with specific hazards. Safety Checks can be used in orientation training, tailgate talks or even one-one coaching.

Online eCourses

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

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

WHMIS 2015 Online Training (English) (1 hour eCourse) | As of December 1, 2018, there must be WHMIS 2015 labels and safety data sheets for all hazardous products in the workplace. Workers now need education on WHMIS 2015.

Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Basic Training (8 hours online eCourse) | This small business eLearning training program (for workplaces with 6-19 workers) provides guidance on the powers, functions and duties of the workplace health and safety representative.


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.

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