Working for Workers Act 2022 introduces the highest health and safety fines in Canada
A new legislative Bill has been passed in Ontario that will have a significant impact on how health and safety is approached in the workplace.
Amongst other changes, the Working for Workers Act 2022 – also known as Bill 88 – contains amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which will result in considerable changes when it comes to keeping staff safe at work.
So what are the changes to the OHSA and what do you need to do to keep on the right side of the law?
Under the new legislation, there will be a number of changes made to the OHSA, including legislated sentencing factors, the potential for additional court orders as part of sentencing and a doubling of the limitation period.
Certain employers will also be required to maintain naloxone kits (medication used in the event of an opioid overdose) and train their employees how to use them. The biggest change however, is the increased penalties for directors, officers, and individuals who violate the OHSA.
Fines 15 times higher than before
The maximum fine for directors and officers will increase from CA$100,000 to CA$1.5 million. The maximum fine for individuals will rise from CA$100 to CA$500,000.
A list of ‘aggravating factors’ has also been introduced, which will be considered when deciding monetary penalties. These factors include whether the offence resulted in death or serious injury, if the defendant committed the offence recklessly, or if the defendant disregarded an order of an inspector.
The bill also extends the limitations period (the period of time within which a claim must be made) from one to two years.
What should employers do now?
Global HR Lawyers MathewsDinsdale recommend that companies ‘incorporate a personal “due diligence” regime into their daily activities’ in order to stay on the right side of the changes.
This includes taking steps to ensure that staff and supervisors are aware of company health and safety policies, and undertake reviews and training as needed. Senior managers and directors should also have systems in place to ensure that they are aware of any health and safety issues that arise, and that these are dealt with immediately.
Companies should also ensure that they carefully document the steps they undertake to ensure their compliance with the OHSA.
“Workplace leadership should develop the habit of ensuring the documentation of positive steps. Failing to do so, or failing to create detailed documentation that is useful, seriously hinders the ability to demonstrate that all reasonable care was taken,” suggests Jeremy Warning, Partner, MathewsDinsdale.
Don’t wait until the worst happens
Your workplace health and safety provision should cover safe work, protective devices, and procedures which meet requirements of the regulations under the OHSA. However, recent research has shown that the majority of employers only put additional safety measures in place after an accident.
With the passing of the Working for Workers Act 2022, failing to act before an accident occurs will have significant consequences. Safety measures such as panic alarms, and location monitoring can help to ensure that staff are safe and get help immediately in an emergency.
The StaySafe app is used by organisations across Canada to meet their duty of care and provide superior protection to staff. The app is linked to a secure cloud-based monitoring hub which accurately locates your workers on a map, and provides you with real-time updates when they are running a session in the app.
If one of your employees fails to check-in safely during a lone working session or raises an alert, a notification will pop-up on screen, as well as via SMS and email, allowing you to locate them and get help straight away.
The hub also keeps an accurate log, and allows you to report on previous lone worker sessions and alerts, should you need to share additional documentation.
Looking for ways to better protect your staff?
The StaySafe app can help employers to meet their duty of care to employees, and adhere to health and safety legislation. To find out more about the benefits of the StaySafe app, click here.
Don CameronCEO, StaySafe
Don has been leading the growth of StaySafe since 2014, and we are now the leading, global, app-based lone worker solution.
Before coming over to StaySafe, Don built up over 25 years experience developing successful businesses in the IT, Telecoms and service industries.
Passionate about lone worker safety, Don is constantly striving to make sure StaySafe brings the most benefits to lone workers and their employers to keep more people safe.
Find out more about StaySafe solutions
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