Monday, October 21, 2013

Need to know: Health & Safety

Need to know: Health and Safety

Health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill through work, the law states that we must not put ourselves; other workers or the public in danger and this applies to all businesses of all sizes.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a self employed person must abide by the sections of the act that pertain to them.

Self-employed people are required to notify a director of the Ministry of Labour, in writing, if they sustain an occupational injury or illness.

Outlined below are the OHSA obligations of an employer under the General Duties of Employers Clauses and Prescribed Duties of an Employer both under Section 25 & 26 of the act.  Please note that under the act, Self Employed Persons must follow (with necessary modifications the following sections of the act:

4.  Subsection 25 (1), clauses 26 (1) (c), (e), (f) and (g), subsection 33 (1) and sections 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 52, 54, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68 and 69, and the regulations in relation thereto, apply with necessary modifications to a self-employed person. 2001, c. 9, Sched. I, s. 3 (1).


General Duties of Employers

An Ontario employer, who is covered by the Act, has an obligation to:
  • instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety [section 25(2)(a)];
  • assist in a medical emergency by providing any information–including confidential business information–to a qualified medical practitioner who requests the information in order to diagnose or treat any person [section 25(2)(b)];
  • Appoint competent persons as supervisors [section 25(2)(c)]. "Competent person" has a very specific meaning under the Act. He or she must:
    • be qualified–through knowledge, training and experience–to organize the work and its performance;
    • be familiar with the Act and the regulations that apply to the work being performed in the workplace;
    • know about any actual or potential danger to health and safety in the workplace; [ 1 ]
  • inform a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, about any hazard in the work and train that worker in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any equipment, substances, tools, material, etc. [section 25(2)(d)];
  • help committees and health and safety representatives to carry out their duties [section 25(2)(e)];
  • not employ workers who are under such age as may be prescribed or knowingly permit underage persons to be in or near the workplace [sections 25(2)(f) and (g)]; [ 2 ]
  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [section 25(2)(h)];
  • Post in the workplace a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as explanatory material prepared by the ministry that outlines the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers. This material must be in English and the majority language in the workplace [section 25(2)(i)];
  • Prepare a written occupational health and safety policy, review that policy at least once a year and set up a program to implement it [section 25(2)(j)]. [ 3 ] For guidance on how to do this, see Appendix A;
  • post a copy of the occupational health and safety policy in the workplace, where workers will be most likely to see it [section 25 (2)(k)];
  • Provide the joint committee or the health and safety representative with the results of any occupational health and safety report that the employer has. If the report is in writing, the employer must also provide a copy of the relevant parts of the report [section 25(2)(1)];
  • Advise workers of the results of such a report. If the report is in writing, the employer must, on request, make available to workers copies of those portions that concern occupational health and safety [section 25(2)(m)]; and
  • ensure that every part of the physical structure of the workplace can support all loads to which it may be subjected, in accordance with the Building Code Act and any standards prescribed by the ministry [section 25(1)(e)]. This duty also applies to the self-employed.


Prescribed Duties of Employers

The word "prescribed" appears in many sections of the Act. It means that a regulation must exist in order to put into effect the requirements of that section. Where there is no regulation, the requirements of that section are not in force.

Employers and supervisors have an obligation to know which regulations apply to their workplaces. If there is any uncertainty, an inspector should be consulted.

Here is a list of duties of employers, under the Act, which may be prescribed. The first seven duties also apply to the self-employed. Where there is a regulation, an employer must:

  1. provide and maintain in good condition any prescribed equipment, materials and protective devices [sections 25(1)(a) and (b)];
  2. ensure that the above are used in accordance with the regulations [section 25(1)(d)];
  3. carry out any measures and procedures that are prescribed for the workplace [section 25(1)(c)];
  4. keep and maintain accurate records, as prescribed, of the handling, storage, use and disposal of biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(c)];
  5. notify a director of the Ministry of Labour of the use or introduction into a workplace of any prescribed biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(e)];
  6. monitor, as prescribed, the levels of biological, chemical, or physical agents and keep and post accurate records of these levels [section 26(1)(f)];
  7. comply with a prescribed standard that limits the exposure of a worker to biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(g)];
  8. keep, maintain and make available to workers prescribed records of worker exposure to chemical, biological or physical agents [section 26(1)(d)];
  9. establish and maintain an occupational health service for workers, as prescribed [sections 26(1)(a) and (b)];
  10. provide prescribed medical surveillance programs and safety-related medical examinations and tests, for the benefit of workers [sections 26(1)(h) and (i)]; [ 4 ]
  11. ensure, where prescribed, that only workers who have taken any prescribed medical examinations, tests or X-rays and who have been found physically fit to work, be allowed to work or be in a workplace [section 26(1)(j)];
  12. where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions on the measures and procedures to be taken for his or her protection [section 26(1)(k)]; and
  13. Carry out any prescribed training programs for workers, supervisors and committee members [section 26(1)(l)].

When hiring contractors or self-employed persons they must provide a copy of  WSIB Certificate and insurance for general liability to you or sign WSIB exemption form - 1158A General Independent Operators Questionnaire.

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