Duties of employer as per Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

What does the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act say?

Let’s first look at how the Act defines an employer. Most workers, employers, and supervisors in Ontario fall under the OHSA. This would include workplace owners, constructors, and material suppliers.

Who is an employer as per the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act?

The Act defines an employer as one who employs one or more workers or contracts for their services. Moreover, the definition includes a contractor or sub-contractor undertaking projects in conjunction with the owner, constructor, contractor, or sub-contractor.

If the above definition applies to you, then you come under the purview of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. Therefore, you need to comply with employer’s duties listed under the Act under Sec 25.

General and specific duties of an employer

Sec 25 of the OHSA lists out the general and specific duties of an employer. Following are some of the most important duties:

The Act requires an employer in Ontario to perform the following key general duties:

  • Taking all possible reasonable precautions, which help in protecting workers’ health and safety
  • Ensuring good maintenance of all equipment and material, including protective equipment
  • Providing workers with information, instruction, and supervision that will help in protecting workers’ health and safety
  • Co-operating with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) to maintain good health and safety standards

The Act requires an employer in Ontario to perform the following key specific duties:

  • Ensuring regulatory compliance under OHSA
  • Planning, developing, and implementing an OHS program while drafting the policies
  • Placing a copy of the OHSA at the workplace
  • Provide all workers with the required explanatory material prepared by the MOL
  • Providing the Joint Health and Safety Committee with health and safety reports

Moreover, employers have duties with regards to workplace violence and sexual harassment. Further, the OHSA lists out additional duties of an employer under Sec 26.

Duties of an Ontario employer with regards workplace harassment policy:

  • Create, implement, and maintain a workplace harassment policy.
  • Review the policy as often as necessary, but ensure it is done at least annually
  • Have a workplace harassment program that clearly describes how to make a complaint or report an incident of workplace harassment.
  • Ensure that the company investigates complaints or incidents properly as per the set program
  • Inform and instruct workers on the workplace harassment policy and program

Effective Sep 8, 2016, an employer has the following additional duties:

  • Develop and maintain a written program while consulting the JHSC or the health and safety representative, if any.
  • Conduct an appropriate investigation on incidents or complaints of workplace harassment
  • Inform the harasser and the person allegedly suffering harassment about investigation results and status of corrective actions in writing
  • review the workplace harassment program as often as necessary, but ensure its done at least once annually.
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