Health & Safety


Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
Working Conditions/Workplace
Ministry of Labour
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
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  • Do I have to register with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board?
    • ​​If you are an employer employing 1 or more workers, you must register with the WSIB within 10 days of hiring your first employee. Registration is easy. Call the WSIB at 1-800-387-0080 or register on line at Very few businesses are exempt from this regulation so call today.
    • WSIB coverage is also mandatory for all independent operators, sole proprietors, partners, and executive officers in the construction industry. Some minor exemptions apply to individuals engaged solely in home renovation.
  • Do my employees have to report work related injuries to me as their employer?
    • Yes. Employees must report any work related injury to you. As their employer, you then have 3 days to report any lost time or medical aid injury to the WSIB.
  • I would like to know the minimum age for summer help in the landscaping trade as each year we employ 2 to 3 students.
    • Depending on the type of work that the students will be doing for you the minimum age varies. 15 year olds are permitted to work in industrial workplaces when they are required to use various pieces of equipment. 16 year olds are permitted to work on construction sites and 18 year olds are permitted to work in the mining industry.
  • Do I have to train my staff in First Aid and CPR?
    • Yes. All workplaces have to have a qualified first aider and a first Aid kit in their workplace. Regulation 1101 under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act details the specific requirements. This, by the way, includes construction sites and trucks, if that is where the workers "work place" is.  Regulation 1101 requires a qualifies first aider to be on shift at all times.  In addition the regualtions specify the type of training the First Aider Requires.  One day emergency First Aid if less than five (5) staff are on shift vs Two Day First Aid if five or more staff are working on the same shift.
      CPR training is only required in very specific situations, such as confined space entry procedures. It is however encouraged that all work places have the proper emergency response capabilities in place.
  • Are Automatic External Defibrillators required in all workplaces?
    • No.  AEDs are not currently required by law in a workplace.
  • Where do I send my staff for First Aid Training?
    • To your local St. John Ambulance Branch or Red Cross Branch, are these two organizations remain the two most frequently used training providers. To meet the legal requirement, the training must be equivalent to St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid.
  • How often does WHMIS training need to be provided to all workers in the workplace, and not just reviewed by the JHSC?
    • WHMIS training must be completed at time of employment and it is recommended that it be reviewed annually with all staff. I always recommend a quick yearly review, with retraining to occur when new hazards have been introduced into the workplace.
  • How soon do I have to start complying with the new Working at Heights Legislation?
    • The new legislation came into effect April 1, 2015, so employers must ensure that their workers complete a working at heights training program approved by the Chief Prevention Officer and delivered by an approved training provider. Workers who have not previously completed fall arrest training must complete this program before they can work at heights. However, there is a two-year transition period for workers who, pripr to April 1, 2015, met the fall protection training requirements.
Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
  • I recently hired some additional staff and now have 25 employees working for me. Do my obligations under the health and safety laws change?
    • If you did not have a Joint Health and Safety Committee before, then yes. Every workplace in Ontario that employs 20 or more workers on a full time or part time basis must have a Joint Health and Safety Committee in place. This committee must also have two certified members on it. All certified members must successfully complete both the basic and work site specific certification training. Describe your workplace in a bit more detail and I will be able to direct you in the right direction.
  • We are one corporation but have more than one site, how many representatives are required?
    • JHSCs are required at each site with 20 + workers unless the employer has applied for a Multisite JHSC agreement to be recognized by the Ministry of Labour (MOL). A Joint Health & Safety Committee size requirement varies depending on the amount of employees. For 20 to 49 employees a minimum of 2 members are required, one representing the workers and one representing management. For 50 or more employees a minimum of 4 members are required (two worker representatives and two management representatives).
  • When is permission required for multi-workplace JHSC required?
    • JHSCs are required at each site with 20 + workers unless the employer has applied for a Multi-site JHSC agreement to be recognized by the MOL.
      A multi-site agreement is required when the employer does not want to establish a committee at each location which is geographically separate and there are 20+ employees at each site.
      What is it and how does it work? The agreement allows the employer more flexibility and it is easier to manage a committee instead of several for consistency issues and true involvement by all groups. The concept started in the School Board System several years ago and is also used extensively in the Municipalities.
  • How do we ensure representatives be at the JHSC meeting if it isn’t geographically feasible?
    • I always recommend a representation of all work groups and concentrate less on geography. Recent changes to the Act now allow non JHSC workers to conduct inspections in remote locations when a multi site JHSC agreement is in place. These workers are NOT JHSC members nor do they have a right to attend JHSC meetings, unless invited to by the co-chairs. These employees do require training from the employer on how to conduct workplace inspections.
Working Conditions/Workplace
  • If my workplace is a very old building, can extension cords be used as a permanent source for power? Are they grand-fathered if new wiring not feasible? What extra responsibilities would be required?
    • These types of situations are rare, but I would have the local electrical utility to come in and inspect the building. The MOL defers to them in this area.
  • If our building is very old and the ramp for transporting clients (in wheelchairs) is steep and increases the risk to the worker, what are some recommendations for control (There isn’t enough room to change the incline of the ramp and elevators do not connect to parts of the building)?
    • Grand-fathering is an issue in this situation. The employer should investigate the safest possible steps to be taken to ensure access for the client and safety for the employee. In some cases it may require a second person to be assigned to assist, etc.
  • If a vehicle is considered a workplace and a worker is in an accident going to their first client, are they covered by the Act even though they do not get paid for mileage to their first client? Agency? Or visit?
    • WSIB Legislation stipulates that if the person is normally required to use their vehicle to conduct work then they are covered as soon as the get into their vehicle on route to their first client. If the person only uses the vehicle at times, they are only covered once they have gone to their work headquarters and not during their commute. Could it be argued that the worker may not have been in the accident if they had not been on route to their client? The WSIB looks at each case individually but as a rule, if the person drives and uses the vehicle during their daily activity, the accident would be deemed work related.
  • With regards to volunteers: Does the employer have any responsibilities in the workplace in terms of the Act? In regards to them driving to and from the workplace if they are in an accident when they do not get any payment? What about if they get an honorarium?
    • The Occupational Health and Safety Act applies in employment situations only, as such volunteers are not covered, nor are they covered by WSIB legislation. Even in situations where they receive honorariums this interpretation applies. The only exception to this is the Volunteer Fire Fighters and that is by specific regulations. I always strongly advise companies to orient their volunteers to the same safety practices though, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and if volunteers work in a safe manner, then they do not create any additional unsafe conditions for the regular staff.
  • Have workers been covered under the WSIB legislation if they slip in their own driveway while preparing to go to their first client?
    • Not that I am aware of. Normally work starts once the vehicle leaves the person's driveway, unless the person has a "home as headquarters" arrangement.
  • How can a supervisor be compliant and show due diligence if their employer limits or impedes them from making appropriate decisions and follow up?
    • I always say "Document, document, document. If the supervisor has tried to get appropriate training programs or equipment changes and the employer has said No, document it. They can call the MOL and file an anonymous complaint just like any worker. If an incident occurs, they can also pull out their copies of the documentation to prove their efforts (How can they let MOL know and still realistically survive in their job?).
Ministry of Labour
  • Would you be able to advise me on what the current mandatory "postings" required for employers by WSIB and the Ministry of Labour?
    • Every workplace is required to have:
    • -a recent copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and applicable Regulation
    • - the "Prevention Starts Here" poster, and
    • - the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board "In Case of Injury at Work" poster posted.
    • If you employ 5 (five) or more employees you are required to have a copy of your Health and Safety Policy Statement as well as your Violence and Harassment Policy posted.  Please Ensure that the most current version, not being more than one year old is posted.
    • As of September 2016, your workplace also needs to include a “definition” of sexual harassment in its policy statement and have a program in place to prevent and investigate it. 
    • If you employ between 6 and 19 staff you are required to post the name and location of the worker health and safety representative (the one chosen by the employees who conducts your monthly workplace inspections) or if you employ more than 19 workers (i.e. 20 or more) you need to post the names of the Joint Health and Safety Committee members.
    • In addition you are required to post the Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Poster “What you should know” Version 4.
    • The only other material that needs to be posted is a copy of a Ministry of Labour Inspection Report, if they have been in recently to inspect your workplace. One additional posting required is your Health and Safety Policy Statement. This is the policy statement which is updated yearly and signed by your senior most person.
  • What year version of the Act posted in the workplace would still be acceptable by the MOL?
    • The Ministry is not that picky on this point. The Act, with the most recent major amendments would be deemed acceptable.
  • What is the "explanatory material prepared by the MOL" and what are the issues with this?
    • This explanatory material is the "Prevention Starts Here" poster and should be posted in English or French.  If another language is spoken by your employees, the poster is also available in 19 other languages and should be posted in the language of majority in the workplace.
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
  • Have the minimum fines under the Occupational Health and Safety Act increased recently?
    • No. Recent changes to the Occopational Health and Safety Act did not change the fine structure under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Corporations are now subject to a maximum fine of 1.5 milllion per charge, individuals are now subject to fines of $100,000 per charge, a jail term of up to 12 months or a combination of both. Supervisors, workers and Directors of corporations can all be found guilty of a contravention under the Act.
      Please note that the Ministry of Labour can also issue tickets on the spot for set violations. Those tickets range from $200 to $500 dollars.
  • Do the same regulations apply to all workplaces?
    • No. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act there are five main sector regulations: Industrial Establishments, Construction Sites, Mining, Health Care and Farming. These regulations spell out the specific requirements for workplaces in each of those sectors. In addition, there are regulations for WHMIS, Designated Substances (a group of 11 specific chemicals such as Asbestos, Mercury and Lead) and Biological and Chemical regulations. Contact with your specific situation and we'll direct you to the correct solution.
  • Does the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply to all workplaces?
    • Most workplaces in Ontario fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act. Federally regulated workplaces (banks, railway, airlines, inter-provincial trucking) are regulated by Part II of the Labour Code. Please contact and we'll direct you to the right jurisdiction.
  • What are a self employed person's responsibilities under the OHS Act?
    • The Act applies in that the self employed person must work in a safe manner, have WHMIS training and report critical injuries and fatalities to the MOL as well as cooperate with the MOL for inspection and enforcement purposes. What are the responsibilities of the agency contracting them? Depends on the relationship. Self employed individuals need to be made aware of the hazards that the employer knows about, should have it clearly spelled out to them what their employment relationship is and also be clearly made aware of the terms and conditions. The MOL is applying a very broad definition of employer these days.
  • My union representative told me that my right to refuse unsafe work was recently changed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Is this true?
    • Yes, Bill 168, which came into effect June 15, 2010 has extended a worker’s right to refuse to included situations where the worker feels that a threat of workplace violence is likely to endanger them. All workers continue to have the same right to refuse unsafe work that they previously had.
  • Does every worker in Ontario have the legal right to refuse unsafe work?
    • Most workers in Ontario have the right to refuse any work which they feel will endanger their health or safety. Limited rights to refuse unsafe work are extended to Correctional Officers, Police, Firefighters, Health Care workers. These individuals cannot refuse unsafe work if the work is inherent to their job and if their refusal will endanger a member of the public. Please contact with your specific situation and I can further explain how this applies to your situation.
  • What is the IRS, and does it apply to my workplace?
    • The Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is part of the structure of all occupational health and safety legislation in Canada. The IRS places a responsibility on everyone in the workplace to actively ensure workers are safe. This is an essential part of every worker’s job. The OH&SA sets out legal duties and responsibilities for employers, supervisors and workers in the workplace to follow.
  • Who is a worker?
    • ​ A worker is a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation, a secondary school student who performs work under a work experience program (co-op student), a person who performs work for no monetary compensation as a "learner" as part of a post-secondary institution. 
  • What is a medical aid injury?
    • A medical aid is an injury that requires your employee to seek medical attention from a Health Care Practitioner. This can be a Doctor, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor etc. Any Health Care Professional as defined by the Health Care Professionals Act.
  • What is the difference between hazardous and designated substances?
    • Designated substances are only those 11 chemicals listed in and governed by the Designated Substances Regulation.  They were chosen for designation due to the known hazards they cause when used in industry and workplaces. As they are designated, more specific controls apply to them. Hazardous chemicals are all other substances known to also have hazards yet their control of use is less prescriptive.
  • What is WSIA?
    • Workplace Safety Insurance Act (WSIA), is the Act governing the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and the benefits to workers.
  • What is workplace violence?
    • Workplace violence has been defined under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, an attempt to exercise physical force or a statment or behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against a worker accompanied by verbal or written threats.  Physical attacks, such as hitting, kicking, scratching or biting are included as violent behaviour.
  • What is harassment?
    • Harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is defined as vexatious comment or conduct that includes, among other things: Inappropriate comments; Distribution of discriminatory materials; Behaviour intended to incite hatred; Verbal or physical conduct of a nature which is known or ought reasonably to have been known to be unwelcome.  Please remember that the grounds for discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code remain the same and include the following prohibited grounds of discrimination: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), age, record of offences, sex (including pregnancy), family status, marital status, or disability or perceived disability.
  • ​What is sexual harassment?
  • Sexual harassment is defined as:
    • (a) Engaging in a course of vexatious comments or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought to be known or unwelcome, or
    • (b) Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.
  • What is "WHMIS 2015"?
    • WHMIS 2015 is the result of Canada aligning the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The federal component of WHMIS has come into force, however there are transition period stages.