The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA, the ACT)

Posted May 16th, 2017 in Tips & News

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA, the ACT)

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.     In general, what does OHSA require?

The main purpose of the Act is to protect workers from health & safety hazards on the job. It sets out duties for all workplace parties, and rights for workers. It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and provides for enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved voluntarily. Fundamental to the successful working of OHSA is the workplace Internal Responsibility System (IRS).


2.     Who is covered by OHSA?

The OHSA applies to almost every worker, supervisor, employer and workplace in Ontario, including workplace owners, constructors and suppliers of equipment or materials to workplaces covered by the Act.


3.     How are OHSA and Regulations enforced?

The Ministry's goal is for all workplaces to achieve self-compliance with OHSA and Regulations through a well-functioning (IRS). Where this does not happen, progressive enforcement results. Enforcement begins with the issuing of orders and may proceed to prosecution.

Inspectors are the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Labour; their role includes the following:

·      inspection of workplaces
·      issuing of orders where there is a contravention of OHSA or its Regulations
·      investigation of accidents & work refusals
·      resolution of disputes
·      recommendation of prosecution

The powers an inspector may use to fulfil this role are set out in OHSA Sections 54 to 57. A prosecution may be initiated against anyone having duties mentioned in OHSA Sections 23 to 32, including a:
·       constructor
·       owner
·       employer
·       architect
·       supervisor
·       engineer
·       worker
·       director or officer of a corporation
·       licensee (eg. a holder of a logging licence under the Crown Timber Act)
·       supplier

4.     What are the penalties for not complying with OHSA and its’ regulations?

The maximum penalties for a contravention of OHSA or its regulations are set out in OHSA Section 66. A successful prosecution could, for each conviction, result in:
·       A fine of up to $25,000 for an individual person and/or up to 12 months’ imprisonment;
·       A fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation.


5.     What is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS)?

The IRS gives everyone in an organization direct responsibility for health & safety as an essential part of his/her job. Each person takes initiative on health & safety issues and works to solve problems and make improvements on an ongoing basis. They do this both alone and co-operatively with others.


Learn what your responsibilities are as an employer, supervisor and worker. Don’t get caught not knowing. The Health, Safety and the Law course on June 20th will give you the information you need.

Supervisors, are you “competent” as defined in the OHSA? There is still room in the June 15h Due Diligence class, so book early.

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