Two Months Until July 1 Safety Awareness Training Deadline: Will You Be Compliant?

by Dentons
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The July 1, 2014 deadline is quickly approaching.  Employers in Ontario have two months to ensure that their workers and supervisors complete “basic occupational health and safety awareness training” before the deadline.

Our February 25, 2014 article set out “what you need to do” to comply with this new requirement.  Our April 3, 2014 article set out various strategies for employers as to how to provide this training.

In this article, we will provide updates and address a number of questions that have recently arisen, including who has to take this training and how employers can continue to ensure that they are compliant with the requirements of this Regulation even after their current workforce is trained.

Ministry of Labour Guide to Requirements for Basic Awareness Training

The Ministry of Labour has now released “A Guide to OHSA Requirements for Basic Awareness Training”.  It is fairly brief and worth reading.

Are directors and officers of a company or charity required to take the supervisor training?

The issue of whether directors and officers of a company or charity are considered supervisors is dependent on the particular facts of the situation.  If a director or officer has the responsibilities of a supervisor under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in an Ontario workplace (i.e. the person has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker in Ontario), the Ministry of Labour will likely expect the director or officer to complete the supervisor safety awareness training.  “Authority over a worker” includes, among other things, the ability to promote and discipline workers, schedule work and grant leaves of absence.  If the director or officer is not a “supervisor” under the OHSA, he or she is not required to take the training.

Are volunteers with a charity or not-for-profit organization required to take the training?

Under the OHSA, a worker is defined in part as “a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation”.  As a result, a volunteer is not considered a worker and does not have to take the safety awareness training.  We recommend, however, that if a volunteer is doing work that involves any safety risks, you require him or her to take the safety awareness training.

Must employers verify that temporary employees sent to them by temporary employment agencies have completed safety awareness training?

Yes.  Where a worker is employed by a temporary employment agency and sent to another company to perform temporary work assignments, the temporary employment agency and the company both have safety duties under the OHSA.  While the temporary employment agency is required to provide the training, the company at which the temporary employee is working is required to confirm that the employee has received the training.

Update your checklists and agreements now

Hiring checklists and offer letters:
Ontario employers should update their hiring checklists and offer letters now.  Hiring checklists should include a requirement that a new worker or supervisor provide to the employer proof of having received the safety awareness training.  Going forward, employment offer letters / employment contracts should include a condition that a worker or supervisor has completed or will complete the appropriate safety awareness training.

Contractor and temporary employment agency agreements:
Employers should also include, in their standard-form contractor or temporary employment agency agreements, a requirement that the contractor or temporary employment agency not send to the employer any workers who have not completed the training, and that the contractor or temporary employment agency provide proof that its workers have received the training.  Employers must ensure they have an up-to-date record of safety awareness training for all workers and supervisors who perform work for the employer (which includes workers and supervisors from contractors and temporary employment agencies) in order to demonstrate compliance in the event the Ministry of Labour inspects the workplace.

Keep in mind employees who may require accommodation

Some employees with disabilities, language or literacy issues may require accommodation in order to complete their safety awareness training.  These employees may need additional time, or for the material to be read aloud or clarified.  Some may benefit from the opportunity to ask questions in a one-on-one environment.

The Ministry of Labour currently offers the worker and supervisor workbooks, and accompanying employer guides, in English, French, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu.  The Ministry of Labour’s e-learning modules are currently available in English and French; however, its website indicates that the e-learning modules will be available in the seven additional languages in Spring 2014.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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