MOL announces mandatory safety training deadline for Ontario employers

Friday, November 15, 2013

Workers and supervisors must provide proof of training by July 1, 2014

Effective July 1, 2014, Ontario employers will have to ensure that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program. The first of its kind in North America, the new regulation mandates basic safety awareness training for all Ontario workers and supervisors – with a specific focus on small business and vulnerable workers.

Cover of Ministry of Labour Worker Training Booklet

To help employers comply by July 1, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) is developing record-keeping tools, comparability checklist, and guides. Notable exceptions to the regulation include workers and supervisors who have previously completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that covers the same content, either with their current or former employer, and can provide proof of completion; and supervisors who have completed a basic occupational health and safety training program for supervisors, prior to the regulation coming into force won’t have to complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program for workers.

Employer responsible for safety awareness training

Once the regulation takes effect, the employer is responsible for ensuring that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program. The Ministry has provided a training program suite (workbooks, employer guides, poster, and e-learning modules) to meet these requirements; however, it’s not mandatory, particularly as many employers already have extensive health and safety training programs in place. 

All the training products are available at no cost and in multiple formats and languages. The mandatory health and safety workplace poster, the worker and supervisor workbooks, and employer guides are currently available in print through ServiceOntario and online through the Ministry of Labour including e-learning modules. An ‘on-the-go’ resource for mobile users is also expected to be available shortly. By May 2014, worker and supervisor workbooks and e-learning modules will have been revised to a grade 4 comprehension level, and focus on images, graphics, audio, and video with minimal written text.

Equivalency training programs and record-keeping

Many employers already offer training and awareness programs that meet or exceed the MOL mandatory training requirements. An equivalency checklist is being prepared by the ministry to help employers determine if their programs qualify. Either way, employers need to keep records to confirm worker participation in mandatory training or its equivalent.

“There is the provision that if they have training of their own or from an HSA [Health and Safety Association], that meets or exceeds the objectives of the MOL programs, they will be in compliance,” says John Levesque, with program and product development at Workplace Safety North, and member of the working group that helped develop the new training material.

“So, it’s mandatory in the sense that workers and supervisors will have to participate in either the MOL training or an equivalent version of it – and keep a record of it. If a Ministry of Labour inspector walks into a workplace once this new regulation is in force, the employer will have to show some record of their workers and supervisors having taken that training or the equivalent. 

“It’s basically legislative awareness, and the course acquaints workers and supervisors with the Act and the regulations. The free workbook is a really good information resource on top of being a training manual,” adds Levesque. “I believe the hope is that workers and supervisors will hang on to this booklet, and if they’re ever in doubt about something – they can refer to it.”

Overview: Evolution of safety training regulation

Ever since the 1884 Ontario Factories Act, laws regulating health and safety in Ontario have steadily evolved. A recent turning point was the tragic workplace incident on Christmas Eve 2009 in Toronto where four construction workers lost their lives and another was seriously injured when the high-rise scaffold they were using collapsed. The Ministry of Labour appointed an expert advisory panel – composed of province-wide representatives from organized labour, employers, and the academic community – to review Ontario’s occupational health and safety system. 

A year later, in December 2010, the panel released its report with 46 recommendations – one of which was mandatory health and safety awareness training for all Ontario workers and supervisors. All of the recommendations in the Dean Report can be found in Bill 160, Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011.

To create this new training material, a working group was drawn from the province’s four main health and safety associations with diverse sector expertise from healthcare to mining, as well as the Workers Health and Safety Centre, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, along with the Ministry’s own policy and development branches. The materials were tested with worker and employer focus groups and then piloted in workplaces.

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Free Resources

View online e-learning modules, and download poster and training material: Ministry of Labour

Order paper copies of poster and training material: Service Ontario

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What is the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Training Program Suite?

The Ministry of Labour has prepared training programs to promote health and safety awareness for all Ontarians. The basic occupational health and safety awareness training program suite is comprised of: a poster, worker and supervisor workbooks, employer guides, and e-learning modules – all of which are AODA-compliant (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and free of charge.

(a) Poster: Health and Safety at Work > Prevention Starts Here mandatory workplace health and safety poster is available at ServiceOntario and on the MOL website in English, French, and 17 other languages, the poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights, responsibilities. More information can be found at: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/prevention/awareness.php

(b) Worker Workbook and Employer Guide: Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps provides a general introduction to workplace health and safety, and focuses on the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers. Available for download in English, French, and seven other languages (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu), they’re also available in print through ServiceOntario in English and French, with additional languages added by winter 2013. For more information, please visit: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/worker_awareness.php

(c) Workbook and Employer Guide: Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness in 5 Steps is available for download on the MOL website in English, French, and seven other languages. They’re currently available in print through ServiceOntario in English and French, and will be made available in the same additional languages as those online in winter 2013. For more information, please visit: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/sup_awareness.php

(d) Worker and supervisor e-learning modules: English and French e-Learning modules are accessible via the MOL website, and by spring 2014, they will also be available in seven additional languages. For more information, please visit: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/training/index.php

2.  I have questions about the training programs – is there a contact available to answer questions?

If you have questions or comments, please contact the Ministry of Labour by email at awarenessfeedback@ontario.ca or through the Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

3. Is basic occupational health and safety awareness training mandatory for all workplaces?

Effective July 1, 2014, employers will have to ensure that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets the requirements set out in Ontario Regulation 297/13 Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training, with the following exceptions: 

  • Workers and supervisors who previously completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program, either with their current or former employer, do not have to take the training again, if they can provide proof that they completed the training and their current employer is able to verify that the basic occupational health and safety awareness training program covered the same content as that set out in the new regulation.
  • A supervisor who has completed a basic occupational health and safety training program for supervisors, prior to the regulation coming into force, does not have to complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program for workers in addition to the supervisor program. 

Once the regulation is in effect, it will be the responsibility of employers to ensure that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program: 

  • An employer shall ensure that a worker who performs work for the employer completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program as soon as practicable.
  • An employer shall ensure that a supervisor who performs work for the employer completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program within one week of performing work as a supervisor.

The Ministry’s training program suite (the workbooks, employer guides, poster, and e-learning modules) can be used to meet these requirements; however, their use is not mandatory.

4.  As a worker, how would I use Ministry of Labour’s health and safety awareness training program suite?

The MOL basic occupational health and safety awareness training program covers basic health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers and other workplace place parties under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).  

The use of the MOL programs is NOT mandatory - they are merely resources for those who might wish to use them in order to meet the minimum requirements as set out in the new regulation. The training program:

  • Provides a general introduction to workplace health and safety, and is intended to introduce workers to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The focus is on health and safety rights, responsibilities, and duties of workers, supervisors, and employers.
  • Covers the roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under the Act, as well as the roles of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and other entities designated under section 22.5 of the Act.
  • Informs workers of common workplace hazards, occupational illness, and requirements set out in Regulation 860 - Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) with respect to information and instruction on controlled products.

5.   As an employer, how would I use Ministry of Labour’s health and safety awareness training program suite? 

It’s the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all workers and supervisors in their workplaces have completed basic occupational health and safety awareness training as outlined in the new regulation.

To support compliance with the regulatory requirements for mandatory basic occupational health and safety awareness training, the ministry has produced the Worker and Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness training programs as a free resource for workplaces. These programs are available in multiple formats, are AODA compliant, and are free of charge.  

The use of the MOL programs is NOT mandatory – they are merely resources for those who might wish to use them.

  • Employers who do not provide their own basic occupational health and safety awareness training are able to use the Ministry’s training programs to train their workers and supervisors. 
  • The Employer Guide that accompanies the worker and supervisor workbooks includes the learning objectives of the training program and supports employers in offering this training.

Please note that this awareness training requirement, does not, in any way, replace any other hazard-specific, sector-specific, or competency-specific training that may be required for supervisors or workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the regulations.

6.  Will workers and supervisors who complete the MOL basic occupational health and safety awareness training program via the e-learning modules get written proof of completion?

Upon successful completion of the e-learning modules, workers and supervisors will have the option to print and/or download a “proof of completion” which will act as a portable and transferable record of their basic occupational health and safety awareness training. This record may be used by the employer to satisfy the regulation requirement regarding record keeping.

While employers are responsible for maintaining occupational health and safety training records of workers and supervisors, the Ministry will work to develop material to assist them with record-keeping requirements.

7.  What if a worker or supervisor forgets to print their certificate after completing the training via the e-learning modules?

It is the responsibility of those taking the e-learning modules to print or download the “proof of completion” upon successful completion of the training. The MOL does not have the authority to collect and/or retain identifiable information relating to participants. At this time, it’s not possible to provide an additional copy of the certificate if it’s not printed or saved at the time of completion, or if it’s lost after printing, so it might be a good idea to print a couple of copies and save an electronic version in your files.

8.  If a worker or supervisor completes the appropriate MOL workbook, is there a similar proof of completion?

Although the workbooks do not come with a certificate similar to the e-learning modules, the completed workbooks are considered written proof of completion.

9. How long will this program take and does the training have to be done in a classroom?

The training does not have to be completed in a classroom. The e-learning modules take approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

10. Are the components of the training program suite available in multiple languages?

The poster is available in English, French, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Igbo, Oji-Cree, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, Vietnamese, and in Braille.

The Worker and Supervisor Workbooks and associated employer guides are available online in English and French, as well as in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu. Printed copies of the workbooks are currently available in English and French through ServiceOntario, and will be available in additional languages in the winter of 2013.

The e-learning modules will be available in English and French in the fall of 2013, and will offer the workbook languages by spring 2014.

11. Are copies available and are they free?

The poster, workbooks and associated employer guides are available for free in both downloadable and print formats. 

To order print copies, visit ServiceOntario at http://www.ontario.ca/serviceontario

Electronic copies can be downloaded from the Ministry of Labour website at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/prevention/awareness.php. Once downloaded, the booklet and guide can be printed in black and white, or in colour (depending on the printer used).  

12. What if I don’t have access to a printer?

Printed copies, in multiple languages, of the poster, workbooks, and employer guides are available free of charge from ServiceOntario Publications. If you are taking the MOL occupational health and safety awareness e-learning module and do not have a printer, there is the option to save your certificate to your desktop or a USB key.

13.  How do I access the e-learning modules? 

You can find the e-learning modules on the MOL website at www.labour.gov.on.ca.

Computers need to have a specific browser in order to access the MOL’s basic occupational health and safety awareness e-learning modules. The basic occupational health and safety awareness e-learning modules are written in HTML 5, and can be accessed via Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5.1 or Google Chrome 17 or higher. If you do not have access to one of these browsers, you may wish to take the basic occupational health and safety awareness training program using a workbook ordered for free through ServiceOntario.

14. My computer keeps crashing each time I want to load the e-learning modules, what should I do?

Computers need to have a specific browser in order to access the MOL basic occupational health and safety awareness e-learning modules. The modules can be accessed via Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5.1 or Google Chrome 17 or higher.  

If the problem persists you may wish to restart your computer before proceeding. Trying a different web browser from the one you originally used may also remedy this issue. 

Alternatively, you may contact the Ministry of Labour through awarenessfeedback@ontario.ca or through the Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

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