Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What the law requires

What is mandatory awareness training in Ontario?

All workplaces in Ontario covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) must ensure their workers and supervisors have completed a basic health and safety awareness training program. The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development provides free training material that meets the requirements of the Act.

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Do I have to post a copy of the company’s health and safety policy in the workplace?

Yes, if your workplace has six or more employees. Your policy must be posted where you post other health and safety information. If your workplace has five or fewer employees, you don’t have to post a written health and safety policy, but you must be prepared to demonstrate that the work is being done safely. 

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Where can I get the 'Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here' poster?

The posting of the 'Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here' poster is mandatory. It highlights worker and employer rights and responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace. It’s available for free in English, French, and 15 other languages. It must be displayed in English as well as the other most frequently spoken language in your workplace. Choose the language(s) and format(s) you need and download your free copies here.

How do I get a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations?

A copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act with the relevant sector Regulations must be posted in your workplace. You can order copies from ServiceOntario Publications, you can call 1-800-668-9938, or you can download the Act and Regulations and print it.

Can I look up legislation online?

Yes. The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations can be consulted online at the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development website.

Does my workplace need a worker health and safety representative or a joint health and safety committee?

Workplaces with six to 19 employees must have a worker health and safety representative who is selected by the workers.

Workplaces with 20 or more employees must have a joint health and safety committee (JHSC). Each JHSC must be comprised of at least one management and one worker representative who are certified through JHSC Certification Part 1 and 2 training.

Who is in charge of inspecting the workplace for hazards?

The law requires that the workplace be inspected by the worker health and safety representative or the designated worker and management members of the joint health and safety committee at least once a month. If the entire workplace can’t be inspected in a month, at least one part of it must be inspected monthly and the entire workplace must be inspected once a year.

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What does a worker do if they believe the work is unsafe?

A worker’s duty under the law is first to report the hazard to their supervisor or employer. If there is no agreement about the problem, the worker can bring the problem to their worker health and safety representative or the worker member of their joint health and safety committee. If there is still no agreement, the worker can refuse to work and the problem can be reported to the nearest office of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

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Where do I make a complaint about an unsafe workplace?

You can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development if you have a workplace health and safety or workplace harassment concern and believe your employer is not correcting the situation. You can also visit the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development webpage to learn more.

Where can I learn more about refusing or stopping work where health and safety is in danger?

Visit the Ministry website to learn more about the right to refuse work. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives a worker the right to refuse work that they believe is unsafe to themself or another worker. A worker who believes they are endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work.

Where can I find out more about employment standards in Ontario?

Know your rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). This guide describes the rules about minimum wage, hours of work limits, termination of employment, public holidays, pregnancy and parental leave, severance pay, vacation and more. You can also visit the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development webpage or call 1-800-531-5551.

Where can I get the Employment Standards in Ontario poster?

The Employment Standards in Ontario poster is available from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development in 16 languages. The poster describes important rights and requirements under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Download your free copy here.

What does a worker do if injured at work?

First, the worker must get medical attention. This might be first aid from a trained co-worker at the job site, or transportation to a hospital or clinic. It’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure appropriate medical treatment is provided to the injured worker.

The injury must be reported to the injured worker’s supervisor or employer. The employer has a legal responsibility to report the injury to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The worker must fill out a Form 6 Worker’s Report of Injury as part of WSIB’s requirements for the worker’s injury claim.

Where do I report a workplace incident or illness?

Visit the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development webpage to learn more about notifying the Ministry and your health and safety committee if there is a workplace incident or illness, including those resulting in death, injury or occupational illness.

What is Return to Work?

Return to Work is the process of the employer and the injured worker cooperating in the worker’s recovery and eventual return to the workplace. The employer and the worker keep WSIB updated on the progress being made.

The WSIB In Case of Injury poster (Form 82) sets out the process and it must be posted in the workplace.

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What is a compliance initiative?

Each year, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development holds compliance initiatives (formerly known as inspection blitzes) in specific sectors to help protect workers’ rights under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), and to enhance employers’ awareness of their responsibilities. The initiatives focus on specific hazards or topics in various types of workplaces.

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Where can I get information about the Ontario Building Code?

You can find out about Ontario’s building regulations here.  

Growing your safety culture

What is the Internal Responsibility System?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act clearly sets out the different roles of the employer, supervisor, and worker, and how these roles cooperate to make a safe and healthy workplace. This is known as the Internal Responsibility System or IRS. Communication and mutual respect is the foundation of IRS in any workplace.

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What does a health and safety representative do?

In workplaces with six to 19 employees, a health and safety representative is a worker who has been selected by the workers to speak up on health and safety issues on their behalf. The health and safety rep inspects the workplace for hazards and can make recommendations to the employer regarding health and safety.

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What does a joint health and safety committee do?

In workplaces with 20 or more employees, a joint health and safety committee (JHSC) must be established that consists of at least two employees, one speaking for workers and one speaking for management. The two members of the committee must complete certification training. Among other things, the certified members inspect the workplace for hazards and can make written recommendations to management.

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What is a worker’s most dangerous month on the job?

Workers who are starting a new job, and young workers under age 24, are three times more likely to be injured during their first month at work. Successful businesses look at training new and young workers as an opportunity to instill a strong safety mindset. It’s crucial to provide good training, ongoing coaching and supervision to new and young workers.

WSN has a wide range of free resources to help you focus on the safety of new and young workers.

What are musculoskeletal disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common injury in virtually all sectors of Ontario workplaces, from office buildings to forestry and mining operations.

MSDs are sprain and strain injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They may be caused or aggravated by various hazards or risk factors in the workplace. Repetitive actions over long periods and over-exertion are two common risk factors. The musculoskeletal system includes muscles, tendons, nerves, bursa, blood vessels, joints/spinal discs, and ligaments. 

Learn about WSN resources that will help you prevent MSDs.  

What are violence and harassment in the workplace?

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act imposes responsibilities on employers to address violence, harassment (including sexual harassment) and incidents of domestic violence in the workplace.

Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker, in a workplace, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

Violence and harassment consists of the use of physical force against another that could result in injury, unwelcome sexual language or advances, threatening harm to another; or comments or conduct against another because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

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How can I promote mental health in the workplace?

Everyone in the workplace has a shared responsibility for health and safety, including psychological health and safety. Workplace Safety North offers many tools to help create a space where all workers feel safe, respected, and valued.

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Mandatory skills training

What training must first-line supervisors in Ontario mining operations complete? 

The Mining Common Core for First-Line Supervisors is a suite of legislated classroom training programs developed and delivered by Workplace Safety North. The mandatory skills training is adaptable for underground hard rock mining, underground soft rock mining, surface and underground diamond drilling operations, surface mines, and surface and underground mining trades.

Topics covered in the two-week suite of courses include:

•    The Occupational Health and Safety and Mining Regulations
•    Introduction to Safety Programs
•    Planned Inspection and Observation
•    Incident Investigation
•    Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene
•    Practise Effective Communication
•    Manage Employees
•    Ground Control
•    Mine Ventilation  

What training must Ontario forestry workers complete?

Ontario law requires chainsaw operators (cutters) and operators of cable skidders and mechanical harvesting equipment to receive common core classroom training on health and safety principles and practices related to the equipment they have been hired to operate.

The operators of these pieces of equipment must be registered for this training before they start work and they must complete the classroom training and associated on-site competency tests within one year of being registered.

Before starting work, what training must operators of mechanical harvesting equipment and forestry pit and road construction equipment complete?

The Mechanical Harvesting Equipment Operator-Forestry Pit and Road Construction Equipment Operator: Common Core is developed and delivered by Workplace Safety North. The course explains how to recognize, assess and control health and safety hazards associated with the operation of a grapple skidder, feller buncher, cut-to-length processor, forwarder-transporter, delimber, slasher and chipper, log loader and grinder.

The 1.5-day course is available in English or French and can be taken online. The course also meets the classroom training requirements for operators of the following forestry pit and road construction equipment: hydraulic excavator, bulldozer, grader, front-end loader, haulage truck, fuel truck and service truck. This course can also be completed online over four to six hours: Mechanical Harvesting-Forestry Pit and Road Construction Equipment Operator Common Core (and is also available in French).

The common core course Mechanical Harvesting (MHEO) is the first step of a six-step process to receive your certification.

  1. Online or classroom MHEO training (WSN)
  2. On-site orientation with your employer
  3. Employer and person with signing authority complete your Modular Training Application Form and submit to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (Ministry), and provide employee with a copy.
  4. On-site training with employer
  5. On-site evaluation by approved trainer AND person with signing authority. (Upon successful completion your Modular Training Report Form is submitted to the Ministry; the approved trainer and signing authority sign the worker’s Modular training booklet. The booklet remains the property of the worker.)
  6. Certification wallet card from Ministry

Note: Steps three to six must be completed within a 12-month period of taking the common core online or classroom training.

What training must chainsaw operators complete before starting work?

The Introduction to Professional Chainsaw Operation: Common Core is developed and delivered by Workplace Safety North as the approved pre-employment classroom training for chainsaw operators in a professional logging environment. The training is available in English or French. The 1.5-day classroom course examines chainsaw sharpening and maintenance, safe chainsaw handling, and felling and limbing.

What training must cable skidder operators complete before starting work?

The Introduction to Cable Skidding: Common Core is developed and delivered by Workplace Safety North as the approved pre-employment classroom training for cable skidder operators in conventional logging operations. The training is available in English or French. The 1-day course covers hazard identification, circle check and routine maintenance, safe starting, parking and shutting down, safe choking, winching and piling.

Who must complete mandatory Working at Heights safety training?

Approved Working at Heights safety training is required for:

  1. Workers in the Ontario construction sector who face fall hazards in their work, and
  2. Workers in other sectors who use fall prevention equipment in their work, such as a travel restraint system, fall restricting system, fall arrest system, safety net, work belt and safety belt.

WSN is a Ministry-approved developer and provider of this mandatory training.  

Does WSN offer e-learning options?

Yes. Among its online training courses, WSN offers:

•    Joint Health and Safety Certification Part 1
•    Mechanical Harvesting-Forestry Pit and Road Construction Equipment Operator Common Core (in English or French)
•    Principles of Rigging, Hoisting and Towing on Logging Operations (in English or French)
•    Safe Driving on Forest Roads, Lockout (English or French)
•    Manual Material Handling (English or French.)

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Does WSN offer in-person, virtual, hybrid, or e-learning health and safety training?

Yes, you can choose the type of training that suits you best:

In-person and Hybrid Interactive, instructor-led in-person training at locations across Ontario, or on-site at your workplace. Many in-person courses are now available in hybrid format to allow for virtual participation. See upcoming in-person training sessions

Virtual Interactive, instructor-led online training using Zoom platform; also known as distance learning. See upcoming virtual training sessions

E-learning, you set the pace of learning with on-demand, self-paced training. See self-paced e-learning courses

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How WSN does business

What industry sectors does WSN serve?

An independent not-for-profit, Workplace Safety North (WSN) is one of four sector-based health and safety associations in Ontario. WSN administers the Ontario Mine Rescue program, and provides province-wide Ministry approved workplace health and safety training and services for mining and forest products industries.

With health and safety specialists and mine rescue officers located across the province, WSN and its legacy organizations have been helping make Ontario workplaces safer for more than 100 years. A leading provider of health and safety training and consulting, businesses call upon WSN for expert advice and information.

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How does WSN make itself accessible?

WSN is committed to providing accessible services. You are encouraged to voluntarily self-identify if you require any form of enhanced accessibility. Any such disclosure is confidential under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. If any WSN goods and services are not adequately accessible, including any forms, please email customer care.

What happens if my training event is cancelled?

WSN does everything it can to avoid cancelling classes. Courses and appointments are cancelled only when there are circumstances beyond its control, such as a major snowstorm. If it is unsafe for learners to travel to the training location, the class will be cancelled. In the event of a class cancellation due to circumstances beyond its control, you will be contacted on the same day to make alternate arrangements.

How do I order training or other services from WSN?

For WSN training courses and to place an order, visit the WSN online catalogue. You can scroll through all courses, or you can search for a specific type of training. Clicking on a course title provides everything you need to decide if it fits your needs.

For WSN services such as on-site consultations, visit the roster of WSN health and safety specialists and mine rescue officers to quickly find the specialist nearest you. WSN specialists provide health and safety advice and information to firms in their district. Services include training, on-site consultations, health and safety audits, industrial hygiene testing, and specific problem-solving.

For WSN products, visit the searchable products page.

What about payment and refunds?

WSN reserves the right to require advance payment by credit or debit card.

Contact WSN to start a refund by emailing customer care. The Client Care Team will contact you and ask you for your order confirmation number and other contact information to verify your eligibility for a refund. Refunds from credit card transactions can be sent back only by the original payment method.

If paying by cheque, please make it payable to:                                                                                                      
Workplace Safety North
690 McKeown Avenue
P.O. Box 2050, Station Main
North Bay, Ontario P1B 9P1

How can I become a WSN Training Partner?  

WSN Training Partners can be a large or small business, community or municipal organization, corporations, or other organizations that have an agreement with WSN to deliver provincially approved training in their community or to their employees.

Available programs include Working at Heights Safety Training (WAH), Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification (JHSC), and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

Contact the training partners program to indicate in which training program you would like to be a partner. You can also call 1-888-730-7821 toll-free or (705) 474-7233 to speak to a WSN customer service representative, or contact your local WSN Health and Safety Specialist.

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Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

Where can I get more information about WSIB claims?

Please visit the WSIB website or call 1-800-387-0750 to learn more about WSIB claims.

Where can businesses find WSIB information about premiums and payments?

Visit the “Businesses” website section or call 1-800-387-0750 to learn about WSIB registration, coverage, premiums, payments, claims, forms, and more.

How can I save money and earn a rebate on my WSIB premium payment?

Keeping your team safe and healthy at work is good for business. The WSIB Health and Safety Excellence program provides a clear roadmap for you to improve safety in your workplace, whether you’re just getting started or want to improve systems and processes you already have in place.

No matter how large or small your business is, the Excellence program can help. WSIB will connect you with a WSIB-approved provider who can help you address your business’s unique health and safety challenges – and you can earn rebates for the work you do to improve your workplace health and safety.