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Workplace Safety Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to common workplace safety questions, such as mandatory training, understanding legislation, and how to protect workers.

Legal Requirements for Ontario Workplaces

What is Mandatory Awareness Training?

On November 15, 2013, The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) announced a new regulation that impacts Ontario workplaces. It is called the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13). Effective July 1, 2014, employers must ensure all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program.

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What is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS)?

The legal duties and responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers overlap and complement each other. Together, they create what's known as the internal responsibility system or IRS. Learn more by visiting the MOL's website about IRS.

Simply put, the IRS means everyone in the workplace has a role to play and a duty to actively ensure workers are safe. Every worker who sees a health and safety problem such as a hazard in the workplace has a duty to report the situation to management. Once a hazard has been identified, the employer and supervisor have a duty to look at the problem and eliminate any hazard that could injure workers.

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What is an MLTSD Inspection Initiative?

The MLTSD inspection initiatives focus on sector-specific hazards, and are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation. During an inspection, inspectors focus on specific sectors, workplace areas or activities in which the targeted hazards may be present.

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Where can I obtain the MLTSD Employment Standards Poster?

Get the free legal-sized print-ready poster on the MLTSD's website.

Where can I obtain Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here Poster?

The Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here poster highlights worker and employer rights and responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace, and is available in English, French and 15 other languages. Its posting is mandatory and it must be displayed in English as well as the language most frequently spoken in the workplace.

Download your free copy from the MLTDS's website.

Am I required to post a copy of Health and Safety Policy?

Yes, a copy of your company's health and safety policy must be posted where all other safety information is posted.

Learn about the different elements of a health and safety policy and visit the MLTSD's website for writing guidance.

How do I obtain copy of the Occupational Health & Safety Act?

You can purchase the "Pocket Ontario OH&S Act & Regulations" book from WSPS. Copies can also be ordered from ServiceOntario Publications (type green book in the search box) or by calling 1 800-668-9938. Alternatively, you can print a copy from the internet. Be sure to choose the publication number- specific to your business sector to ensure that proper regulations are included.

How do I locate legislation online?

e-Laws: e-Laws provides access to official copies of Ontario's statutes and regulations

Justice Laws: Online source of the consolidated Acts and regulations of Canada

How do I find CSA standards online?

View CSA Standards cited in OHSA Regulations (provided through the Ministry of Labour’s website)

How do I find the Ontario Building Code?

The Ontario Building Code is administered by the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Building Code Act and The Building Code are available on e-Laws. The National Building Code is available through WSPS Information Centre in print format.

Who do I contact to learn more about the Ontario Building Code?

The Building Code offers a technical inquiry service on Building Code questions. Get answers to your Building Code and Building Code Act questions.

What can a worker do about unsafe conditions at work?

Health and safety concerns should first be brought to the attention of the worker’s employer or supervisor. If nothing is done, it can be taken to the worker's health and safety representative or JHSC. If the situation is not corrected, it can be reported to the nearest office of the Ministry of Labour. Workers also have the right to refuse unsafe work. OHSA Section 43 outlines the procedure that must be followed, and this process should be understood before a refusal is initiated. More information can be obtained from local ministry offices.

Get more information on our Resource Hub and be sure to read up on inspections and investigations.

What should a worker do if injured at work?

An injured worker's first priority is to get proper medical attention. Ensuring that necessary medical treatment is provided is the responsibility of the employer. It may take the form of first aid from a trained co-worker or require transportation to and treatment at a hospital.

The injury-causing incident must also be reported to the worker's supervisor or employer so that the employer's responsibilities under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act can be met. One of these responsibilities is the completion of a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board form (WSIB Form 7 - downloaded from the WSIB website) which must be submitted to the WSIB before workers, who are eligible, can receive workplace safety insurance (formerly known as workers' compensation).

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What is Return to Work?

Return to Work is a work reintegration program for injured workers that maintains the dignity and productivity of the injured worker, and contributes to the injured worker’s rehabilitation and recovery.

Most people who are injured or become ill at work are able to return while recovering, provided that the work is medically suited to their injury or illness. Returning to daily work can actually help an injured worker’s recovery and reduce the potential of long-term disability.

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Joint Health & Safety Committees / Health & Safety Representative

What is a Health & Safety Representative?

A Health and Safety Representative is an employee elected, as an individual or as a member of a health and safety committee or both, to represent the views of employees in relation to health and safety at work.

Generally speaking, a health and safety representative has the same responsibilities and powers as a joint health and safety committee member. These include:

  • identifying actual and potential workplace hazards inspecting the workplace at least once a month or, if that is not practical, inspecting the workplace at least once a year and at least part of the workplace each month in accordance with a schedule agreed upon by the representative and the employer (constructor)
  • being consulted about and being present at the beginning of health and safety-related testing in the workplace
  • making recommendations to the employer about health and safety in the workplace, and
  • participating in the first and second stage investigation of work and inspecting workplaces when there are critical injuries or fatalities
  • For more information, please visit our Joint Health and Safety Committees / Health and Safety Representative topic page.

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What is a healthy workplace?

A workplace can only be considered healthy if three key elements/avenues of influence are addressed:

The Physical Environment: Addressing "traditional" health and safety legislation requirements

  • Personal Health Resources: Supporting healthy lifestyle practices
  • The Organizational Culture: Creating the right psychosocial work environment
  • For more information, please visit our Healthy Workplace topic page.

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What are Inspections?

A workplace inspection and investigation is the act of examining, first-hand, a work location for evidence of unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

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How often do you have to perform an inspection of the workplace?

  • At least once a month by health and safety representatives and designated members of the joint health and safety committees
  • If the entire workplace cannot be inspected once a month, at least one part must be inspected.
  • The entire workplace must be inspected once a year.
  • For more information, please visit our Inspection and Investigation topic page.

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Does the employee receive regular pay while conducting inspections?

Yes, the employee is paid for time spent carrying out their duties as per section 48(2) of the OHSA.

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How many people must you have on the Joint Health and Safety Committees?

6-19 employees – a committee is not required, but one employee must be chosen as the Health and Safety Representative.

  • 20-49 employees – two members required both certified
  • 50+ employees – at least 4 members, 2 certified.

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Do committee members need to be certified?

At least one member of the committee representing the workers, and one member of the committee representing the employer must complete certification training.

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How often should the committee meet?

Committee members are required to meet at the workplace at least once every three months [subsection 9(33)]. More frequent meetings may be useful, particularly in industries where the work involves hazardous substances or procedures.

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What are the powers and functions of a committee?

  • Workplace inspection
  • Hazard identification
  • Provide written recommendations
  • Consult on workplace testing
  • Participate in information gathering
  • Consult on workplace training on hazardous materials

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Where can I obtain the WSIB Form 82?

You will need to contact WSIB to obtain a Form 82 ("1-2-3-4 Poster"). This will be provided to you free of charge.

Workplace Hazard Identification & Control

What is a Hazard Assessment?

A hazard is any practice, behaviour, substance, condition, or combination of these that can cause injury or illness to people, or damage to property. An assessment is the process of identifying hazards so they can be eliminated or controlled.

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What is Fire Safety & Prevention?

Fire Safety and Prevention is an important component of a health and safety program. A fire prevention program combines engineering, work practice and administrative controls. An effective prevention program will provide your employees with the tools and information they need to work safely and protect themselves and your business from the devastation of fire.

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What are the requirements for fire extinguishers specific to my workplace?

It is important that your workplace is equipped with the proper fire extinguishers as part of your fire protection plan. It’s also the law. For a fire extinguisher to be effective, the following conditions must be met:

  • the extinguisher must be right for the type of fire
  • it must be located where it can be easily reached
  • it must be in good working order
  • the fire must be discovered while it is still small
  • the person using the extinguisher must be trained to use it properly.

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Please consult your local fire authority to determine specific requirements for your workplace.

What are the requirements for storing flammable liquids safely?

Access WSPS’s free resource on flammable liquids storage which is designed to help clients store flammable liquids safely. It is based on the requirements of the Ontario Fire Code, Part 4, and of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. After reviewing the free resource you are advised to connect with your local municipal fire authority for guidance specific to your location.

How do I find the Ontario Fire Code?

The Fire Code is a regulation made under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997. The Fire Code is a set of minimum requirements respecting fire safety within and around existing buildings and facilities. The owner is responsible for complying with the Fire Code, except where otherwise specified. The municipal fire department enforces the Fire Code. The National Fire Code is available through the Information Centre in print format.

The current 2007 Fire Code (O.Reg. 213/07) came into force on November 21, 2007.

How do I contact the Ontario Fire Marshall's office?

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services / Office of the Fire Marshal

Phone: 1 800 565-1842

Fax: 416 325-3126

Connect online.

The Ontario fire Marshall’s office usually takes up to 48 hours to respond.

What is Housekeeping & Preventive maintenance?

Proper housekeeping and preventive maintenance programs are critically important in preventing injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities.

Effective housekeeping includes keeping work areas neat and orderly, maintaining floors from slip and trip hazards, removing waste materials –including fire hazards – and having a good workplace layout, aisle markings, adequate storage facilities and maintenance.

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What are musculoskeletal disorders?

MSDs are injuries that affect muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Injuries can develop when the same muscles are used repetitively, or for a long time without adequate rest. This type of injury increases if the force exerted is high and/or the job requires an awkward posture. Some examples of MSDs include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and tenosynovitis. MSDs do not include musculoskeletal injuries or disorders that are the direct result of a traumatic event, such as a fall, being struck by or against an object, being caught in or on something, a vehicle collision, or workplace violence.

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What is Occupational Hygiene?

Occupational Hygiene can be described as cancers, severe allergic reactions, nervous system impairment and noise-induced hearing loss. These are just some of the diseases that impact the lives of many Ontario workers and their families each year and are caused by many workplace health hazards including:

  • Chemicals such as solvents, asbestos, carbon monoxide, silica
  • Physical agents such as noise, radiation and excessive heat
  • Biological hazards such as moulds and bacteria

Occupational Hygiene is a science devoted to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling these health hazards and helps workers avoid sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort.

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What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Safeguarding is a way to protect workers from the hazards associated with machines. Safeguarding is achieved by physically restricting access to hazards or by stopping a machine's moving part before contact is made. Safeguarding often includes the use of barriers, fixed guards, manual pull-backs, pressure-sensitive protective devices or active opto-electronic protective devices (AOPDs), as well as other means.

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What is Safeguarding of Machinery?

Safeguarding is a way to protect workers from the hazards associated with machines. Safeguarding is achieved by physically restricting access to hazards or by stopping a machine's moving part before contact is made. Safeguarding often includes the use of barriers, fixed guards, manual pull-backs, pressure-sensitive protective devices or active opto-electronic protective devices (AOPDs), as well as other means.

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What is workplace violence & harassment?

Workplace violence and harassment is defined as:

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker, or
  • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker, in a workplace, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

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What is a vulnerable worker?

Vulnerable workers are those who recently moved to Ontario from another province or country, have just started their first job, or are returning to the workforce after a long absence. Vulnerable workers also include people who work in an “underground” economy, especially those who do not have documentation, who are refugees, or whose English language skills are inadequate.

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What is WHMIS & GHS?

WHMIS is Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. It is a Canada-wide classification system designed to provide workplace standards for the control, handling, storage, and disposal of “controlled” products. WHMIS is law under the Canada Labour Code and is applied in Ontario as a regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

GHS is Globally Harmonized System which is an international initiative to standardize chemical hazard classification and communication globally. GHS is not expected to replace WHMIS, but rather will incorporate GHS elements. When implemented in Canada, there will be new standardized classification rules, label requirements and safety data sheets (SDS) formats.

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Workplace Safety Training & Solutions

What is Certification Training?

Certification Training is a mandated training program under the OHSA. It is intended for management and worker members of Joint Health and Safety Committees who wish to become designated as “certified members” under the Act. The intent of the law is to give members of Joint Health and Safety Committees greater knowledge with which to carry out their responsibilities.

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How can I get certified?

WSPS offers training in a format that suits your needs:

  • Classroom Training – JHSC Part One and Two are available in locations across Ontario, including your workplace and virtually. Choose from a variety of generic and sector-specific training options.

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How do I register for training?

For the most up-to-date Certification training dates, please visit our Training Events Schedule.

Obtaining information about your Certification Status

The Ministry of Labour has moved to a new training record database that uses a software known as SkillsPassTM. As a result, we no longer print JHSC Certification training cards. The Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) approved training records are now online. The database allows you to securely view, print, save and share your training records 24/7. You just need to create your free account using your Learner ID.

Creating your account

To create an account and access your digital records; click here.

You will need your learner ID to support set up. Once you are logged in, you can update your name, address, or other outdated information.

To obtain your MOL learner ID, please send e-mail with the following information to the best of your ability to

  • Your training provider and date of training
  • Your full name at the time of training
  • Your home address at the time of training
  • Your phone number or e-mail address at the time of training

What is confined space?

A confined space means a fully or partially enclosed space:

  • that is not designed nor constructed for continuous human occupancy in which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents, or because of work that is done in it
  • Ontario Ministry of Labour resource link.

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How can a confined space program help my business?

Failing to recognize a workspace as a confined space or understand its related hazards could lead to catastrophic injury or death, negatively affecting your employee morale, reputation and production. You may also be subject to penalties, fines or prison terms if convicted because of a violation under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

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What is first aid?

First aid is emergency care given immediately to an injured person. The purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability. In serious cases, first aid may be necessary to keep the victim alive.

For more information please visit CCOHS or the Canadian Red Cross.

How many workers should I have trained in First Aid?

WSIB First Aid Regulation 1101 requires a minimum of 1 person per shift in the vicinity of the first aid station to be trained by a WSIB approved provider.

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What should a first aid box contain?

Sections 8, 9, 10, 11 and 16 of the first aid regulation list the items that must be included in the first aid boxes in workplaces of different types and sizes.

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Does WSPS offer First Aid Training?

WSPS does not offer training; however we do have free resources available.

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Do I need to update my WHMIS training?

Yes, you must update your WHMIS training at least once a year. The frequency of update and review should be determined by your employer in consultation with your health and safety committee. It may be more or less frequently than annually, depending on whether there is a change of circumstance or a perceived necessity. (Please refer to Section 42 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for more information). For more information visit CCOHS Resources and MOL Resources.

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Where can I find post-secondary occupational health and safety courses in Ontario?

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides a summary of what OH&S degree, diploma, and certificate programs are offered in colleges and universities across Canada.

Can I obtain Lift Truck training through WSPS?

Yes, WSPS offers public classroom theory training. For information on practical lift truck training, please contact WSPS Customer Care at 1-877-494-9777.

Where can I find occupational health and safety products & services?

The OHS Canada Buyers' Guide provides a searchable database of over 600 suppliers of OHS products and services. Please note that WSPS does not endorse suppliers of OHS products and services found on this database.

Are your products available in French?

Many of our products are available in French as well as our Federal Consulting Services.

Placing Orders with WSPS

What is the cost of Rush Orders?

$40 plus taxes, plus shipping & handling

How long do Rush Orders Take?

Next day by noon

What shipping service does WSPS use?


What is your policy on Returns & Refunds?

Returns will be accepted for full refund within 14 days of the invoice date with a Return Authorization # – except for tapes, DVD, CDs (unless they are defective). Client assumes the cost of return shipping, unless the product is defective, in which case WSPS will pay for shipping.

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