Managing Operational Risk – Worker Health and Safety Issues

The Ontario Government is serious about health and safety in the workplace and severe penalties are imposed in event of worker injury in unsafe conditions. For a company to be successful, operational risk attributed to health and safety issues must be addressed each year. The maximum penalties for a violation of the provisions of Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) or its regulations (which include an injury in unsafe conditions) are set out in OHSA Section 66. The penalties which could be imposed, for each conviction, result in: * A fine of up to $25,000 for an individual person and/or up to 12 months imprisonment; * A fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is the main legislative Act for Ontario’s for workplace health and safety. Other relevant legislation includes the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), Part II of which deals with the prevention standards for occupational injury and disease; and the Human Rights Code, which often has to be considered in dealing with OHS issues. Both Acts are available along with all of Ontario’s Acts and regulations at the e-Laws website. Some of the health safety issues to address include the following: * Worker safety education on an annual basis; * Delivery vehicle regular maintenance and insurance; * Mandatory hard hat and safety boots on Company premises including multi-level storage areas; * Rules for machine operators and vehicles on company premises including routines for backup of vehicles in parking areas; * Access to first aid stations; * Establishing a joint health and safety committee (“JHSC”). A Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is a committee of at least two people, who represent the workers and the employer at a workplace. In Ontario, certification training is required for one worker and one management member of a JHSC under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. An established JHSC is required under the Ontario Health & Safety Act in any workplace with at least 20 regularly employed workers, and for construction projects three months or longer with 20 or more workers. For further information on Worker Health and Safety, please consult us or visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour website for a wealth of information.