April 15, 2011
The Ontario government is proposing amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

The province says the amendments are in response to recommendations provided by the Expert Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. Some of those recommendations include:
  • Establish the Ministry of Labour as the lead for accident prevention, transferring it from the WSIB.
  • Appoint a new chief prevention officer to coordinate and align the prevention system.
  • Create a new prevention council, with representatives from labour, employers, and safety experts, to advise the chief prevention officer and the minister.
The proposed amendments would also give the Minister of Labour oversight of the province’s health and safety associations. The minister would also oversee the education, training and promotion of workplace health and safety.

The 10-person advisory panel was chaired by Tony Dean, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance. The released 80-page report contains 46 recommendations for change to Ontario’s health and safety system.

The recommendations target such issues as the internal responsibility system, the underground economy, reprisals, enforcement of OHS in Ontario and the creation of a new prevention organization.

Mandatory training

A significant focus of several expert advisory panel recommendations is on mandatory health and safety training. It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour develop and require employers to deliver a standard health and safety awareness program to all workers. Training is to be received upon entering the workplace, prior to exposure to any workplace hazards.

Consultation on the content of basic mandatory health and safety training would occur among stakeholders, and take into account the needs of small business, and language and literacy challenges present in the diverse workforce of Ontario. The advisory panel recommends that this be made free of charge to workers and employers. Where an employer has already established an equivalent program of basic entry level training, this would be grandfathered.

Mandatory free health and safety awareness training is also recommended for each supervisor responsible for frontline workers.

No date has been set as to when the province will deal with the recommendation in the legislature.

To find more on the report go the ministry’s website at www.labour.gov.on.ca.