Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational health and safety is an essential aspect of your responsibilities as an employer. At Achkar Law, we have a team of experienced lawyers who focus on providing comprehensive guidance on workplace safety matters tailored to your specific needs.

Implementing occupational health and safety training within your company is crucial as it lowers exposure to risks and equips you and your managers to effectively handle safety issues. It also builds trust among your employees, ensuring their well-being and satisfaction. 

By prioritizing occupational health and safety, you minimize the chances of encountering workplace safety issues and facing complaints filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Proactive measures and training are necessary due to the broad range of risks that you, as an employer, face in relation to occupational health issues. Achkar Law’s workplace occupational health and saftefy lawyers can assist you in proactively managing and mitigating occupational health risks by providing comprehensive guidance on workplace safety regulations. 

Neglecting workplace safety can result in administrative sanctions, fines, or even prosecution for safety regulation violations. It is essential for you to continually assess safety issues within your workplace and develop flexible plans to address any potential hazards that may arise.

What Is the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is the primary legislation governing workplace occupational health and safety in Ontario. It sets out health and safety regulations, policies and procedures for employers to follow, helping them prevent and manage safety hazards and risks. The OHSA covers a wide range of areas related to occupational health and safety. Here are some key aspects that the OHSA addresses:

  • General Duties of Employers.
  • Prevention of Workplace Hazards.
  • Worker Rights.
  • Workplace Violence and Harassment.
  • Inspections and Investigations Procedures.
  • Enforcement and Penalties for Non-Compliance.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is the governmental body in charge of promoting, regulating, and enforcing the Ontario occupational health and safety.

To Whom Does the OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) in Ontario Apply?

The OHSA applies to most workers, supervisors, employers, and workplaces in Ontario. 

This includes constructors, suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors. A ‘worker’ is widely defined under the OHSA, and includes a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. Whereas an ‘employer’ is described as a person who employs or contracts for the services of one or more workers. 

The OHSA considers any place at, in, on, or near where a worker works as a workplace.

What Are a Worker’s Rights Under the OHSA?

The OHSA provides three notable rights to employees in Ontario:

  • The Right to Know: Employees have the right to be informed and instructed about potential hazards in their work. Employers must provide training, information, and supervision to help protect their health and safety.
  • The Right to Participate: Workers have the right to be involved in the management of workplace health and safety issues. This can be exercised through a worker member on the joint health and safety committees or a worker health and safety representative.
  • The Right to Refuse: All workers covered by the OHSA have the right to refuse work if it poses a risk to their health and safety or that of another worker. 

What Are Your General Duties as an Employer Under the OHSA in Ontario?

As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring occupational health and safety in the workplace. The OHSA sets out your legal duties, including:

  • Providing the equipment, materials, and protective devices in good condition to workers.
  • Instructing, informing, training, and supervising employees to ultimately safeguard workers health and safety.
  • Assisting during medical emergencies by sharing relevant information with qualified medical practitioners.
  • Appointing competent supervisors.
  • Posting in a prominent place a copy of the OHSA and the “Health & Safety at Work: Prevention Starts Here” poster.
  • Supporting joint committees and health and safety representatives.
  • Taking reasonable precautions for worker protection and preventing hazards and injuries by establishing workers health and safety programs, best work practices and up-to-date training.
  • Ensuring the health and safety policy is easily accessible to workers in the workplace.

When it comes to workplace health and safety, our workplace lawyers can help you fulfill your general duties as an employer under the OHSA. This includes ensuring compliance with occupational health and safety policies and regulations.

Workplace Violence and Harassment Under the OHSA

As an employer, it is your responsibility to develop policies addressing workplace violence and harassment in accordance with the OHSA. These policies are crucial for maintaining a safe and respectful work environment. 

The OHSA sets out specific requirements for organizations that regularly employ six or more workers, and twenty or more workers.

Here are common policies you should implement and create:

  • Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough assessment to identify potential risks and hazards related to workplace violence and harassment. This assessment will help you understand the specific areas of improvement and develop appropriate preventive measures and training procedures.
  • Reporting Incidents: Clearly outline procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence and harassment. Provide them with accessible channels to report such incidents confidentially and without fear of retaliation.
  • Seeking Assistance: Establish procedures for workers to seek immediate assistance when faced with situations involving occupational safety, mental health, workplace violence or potential violence. Ensure that employees are aware of the steps to take and the resources available to them.
  • Incident Investigation and Addressing: Define a protocol for investigating and addressing incidents or complaints of occupational health and safety, workplace violence and harassment. Promptly and effectively investigate all reported incidents, maintaining confidentiality throughout the process. Take appropriate actions to address and prevent future injuries and occurrences.
  • Communication of Results: Specify how certain workers will be informed of the inquiry’s results and any remedial actions taken as a result of the investigation. Ensure that relevant parties are kept informed while respecting the confidentiality and privacy of individuals involved.

By implementing comprehensive workplace violence and harassment policies, you demonstrate your commitment to fostering a safe, inclusive, and promote occupational health and respectful work environment for all employees. Regularly review and update these policies to align with any changes in legislation or best practices. Our experienced workplace lawyers can help with this.

How Achkar Law Can Help With Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario?

As an employer, it is crucial to stay updated on the changing legal landscape surrounding health and safety best practices to avoid costly litigation and liabilities. Compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario is of utmost importance to ensure the well-being of your employees and the success of your organization. However, ensuring adherence to the relevant rules and legislation can be complex and overwhelming.

Our team of occupational health and safety lawyers at Achkar Law is here to assist you in meeting your obligations under workplace safety legislation. We provide tailored guidance in drafting and updating your workplace policies to align and comply with the latest legal requirements.

To discuss how our experienced workplace occupational health and safety lawyers can help you with your workplace health and safety needs, please contact us at 1 (800) 771-7882, email us at [email protected], or fill out the form below. We are dedicated to helping you create a safe and compliant work environment for your employees, protecting their well-being and your organization’s success.