Ontario Passes Amendments to Health and Safety Legislation
On May 18, 2011, Bill 160, the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011, passed its third reading in the House. Bill 160 will now be presented to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent before it becomes law. The Bill is described as “the first major review and the largest overhaul of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system in 30 years.”
Bill 160 amends the Ontario Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (“WSIA”) by including recommendations made by an Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. The Expert Advisory Panel was comprised of labour and management representatives as well as health and safety advisors.
The key aspects of Bill 160 include:
- Establishing the Ministry of Labour as the entity responsible for accident prevention, instead of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (which currently has such responsibility). The Ministry of Labour will also be responsible for reviewing Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations, as well as bolstering workplace health and safety initiatives;
- Appointing a new Chief Prevention Officer to coordinate and align the prevention system;
- Creating a new “Prevention Council” to advise the Chief Prevention Officer and the Minister of Labour. This Prevention Council would be comprised of equal numbers of worker and employer representatives as well as occupational health and safety experts;
- Modifying the Joint Health and Safety Committee so that either the worker co-chair or the management co-chair would be able to make recommendations in cases where the Committee did not reach a consensus;
- Allowing a Ministry of Labour inspector to refer matters of suspected employer reprisals against workers to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, where the circumstances warrant such action; and
- Permitting the Minister to establish standards that would have to be met before an individual can become an “approved training provider.” The Minister would have the power to approve a person as a training provider for one or more approved training programs.
The changes to the OHSA and the WSIA may affect your current Health and Safety Practices. If you have any questions pertaining to the employer’s roles and responsibilities with respect to Occupational Health and Safety, please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer for further information.