Passage of Bill 160 on May 18, 2011, paves the way for a transformation of the structure and institutions governing and enforcing OHS, and of the bodies providing information, assistance and training on OHS to workplace parties in Ontario. Bill 160, which amends the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), comes into force on a date to be determined shortly.
Many readers will already know that much of this Bill creates change derived from recommendations made by the Dean Panel. The Dean Panel was constituted to advise the Ontario Government on creating changes to further improve Ontario’s OHS system. The passage of Bill 160 means a number of those recommendations will now have been implemented. We can also expect many further changes, based on the Dean Panel recommendations, as the Ministry of Labour takes on new prevention, education and public promotion responsibilities, and a new Chief Prevention Officer and Prevention Council begin to fulfill the mandate set out in the Bill.
In the short term, we expect that most change experienced by employers will arise from changes in Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspection and enforcement strategies encouraged by Dean. Keeping in mind that a construction sector tragedy was a key factor in the establishment of the Dean Panel, new enforcement strategies targeting key issues for the construction sector and other sectors where Dean specifically identified that vulnerable workers are employed (temporary staffing agencies, young workers, seasonal workers, hospitality) can be expected. Hopefully incentive programs encouraging and supporting employers with strong safety programs will also follow...
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