H&S awareness training: are you missing out on "one of the best tools available"?

Dec 03, 2014

HS awareness trainingDespite having free access to what WSPS account manager Brenda Vrooman describes as "one of the best tools available," some Ontario workplaces still haven't implemented mandatory health and safety awareness training for workers and supervisors. "I speak to WSPS member firms on a regular basis to make sure they've provided the training," says Vrooman, "and I'm getting wonderful feedback from businesses that have." This means businesses that haven't are missing out.

All workplaces under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act are required to provide workers and supervisors with health and safety awareness training as of July 1, 2014. The intent is to ensure workers and supervisors know their basic rights and responsibilities under the act so that they can identify health and safety problems and help develop solutions. The more knowledgeable workers and supervisors are, the better able they are to protect themselves, their co-workers, and their employer.

"Workplaces benefit," says Vrooman, "because it helps create or reinforce a health and safety culture. Creating awareness of health and safety encourages conversations, and having conversations means you're communicating. The more open the communication, the more likely people are to participate - to draw attention to hazards, offer suggestions, and work with the employer to control the hazards." This has spillover benefits, says Vrooman. It encourages collaboration rather than confrontation, which creates a much more positive and productive work environment.

Your workplace may already be compliant. Find out for sure

If your workplace provides comprehensive orientation training, you may already be in compliance. Not sure? These Ministry of Labour tools, available on WSPS' website, will help you to

  • assess your workplace's worker training programs
  • assess your workplace's supervisor training programs
  • verify worker knowledge
  • verify supervisor knowledge
  • keep records courtesy of a record-keeping template.

Not yet compliant? You could be facing a work order

In the three months after the awareness training became mandatory, the Ministry of Labour issued more than 1400 work orders for failing to comply. Here's a breakdown:

  • 827 orders for failing to train workers
  • 529 orders for failing to train supervisors
  • 65 orders for failing to maintain records of the training

Expect ministry inspectors to continue issuing orders wherever they encounter non-compliance.

A quick overview of the training requirements

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13), workers and supervisors must receive training on

  • their rights and responsibilities
  • roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and health and safety partners such as WSPS.

Workers must also receive training on

  • hazard recognition
  • their right to be informed of hazards
  • an employer's obligations to provide information and instruction to workers about controlled products as required under Regulation 860 (WHMIS) of the act
  • latency and illness related to occupational disease.

If these requirements sound familiar, it's because they're not new. They're a long-established part of employers' responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Training materials available at no cost

If your workplace isn't compliant, the Ministry of Labour has training materials available free of charge. "Delivering the training is easy, easy, easy," says Vrooman. "The workbooks are bang-on. They're easy to understand and absorb."

For any employers who don’t have the time or in-house resources to deliver the training, WSPS consultants can do it for you. Learn more about awareness training and related WSPS resources. To enquire about WSPS awareness training delivery, contact Customer Care, Tel: 905-614-1400 or 1 877-494-WSPS (9777) or e-mail at: customercare@wsps.ca.