The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
One of the most important regulations which you need to understand if you want
to work in an engineering field in Canada is the regulation related to health
The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out the rights and duties
of all parties in the workplace. Its main purpose is to protect workers against
health and safety hazards on the job. The Act establishes procedures for dealing
with workplace hazards and it provides for enforcement of the law where compliance
has not been achieved voluntarily.
To learn more, check this Guide
to Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
If you are a construction engineer, you may also check the Ontario’sHealth and Safety legislation relevant to the Construction Industry.
Duties of Employers
The Occupational Health and Safety Act imposes duties on those who
have any degree of control over the workplace, the materials and equipment in
the workplace and the direction of the workforce.
Employers are required to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health
and safety of workers.
Employers’ specific responsibilities relate to toxic substances, hazardous
machinery, worker education and personal protective equipment.
Employees’ Duties and Rights
Employees are to work safely, in accordance with the regulations set out in
the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
To balance the employer’s general right to direct the work force and control
the production process in the workplace, the Occupational Health and Safety
Act gives four basic rights to workers.
The Right to Participate – in the process of identifying and
resolving workplace health and safety concerns. This right is expressed through
worker membership on joint health and safety committees or through worker health
and safety representatives.
The Right to Know – about any potential hazards to which they
may be exposed. This means the right to be trained and to have information on
machinery, equipment, working conditions, processes and hazardous materials.
The Right to Refuse Work – that they believe is dangerous
to their own health and safety or that of another worker. The Act describes
the exact process for refusing dangerous work and the responsibilities of the
employer in responding to such a refusal.
The Right to Stop Work – the Act sets out the circumstances
in which H&S “certified” workers have the right to stop work that
is dangerous to any worker and how the right to stop work can be exercised.
If the internal responsibility system fails to address adequately the health
and safety issues in a workplace, or if the OHSA regulations are not being followed,
the Ministry of Labour has the authority to enforce the law.
Inspectors have broad powers to:
· inspect any workplace
· investigate any potentially hazardous situation and work refusal
· order compliance with the OHSA regulations
· initiate prosecutions
Employers, supervisors and workers must assist and cooperate with inspectors.
For a complete reference to the Regulations made under The Occupational Health
and Safety Act, see the Table of Regulations on the e-Laws
website under Reference Tables.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
WSIB oversees Ontario’s workplace safety education and training system, provides
disability benefits, monitors the quality of health care, and assists in early
and safe return to work.
Check the Board’s web site.