Last week, we discussed a case in which an employer was somewhat lax about the safety of their employees. The court awarded punitive damages to the employee in that case. Well, the issue of workplace safety continues to be front and center this week. As of July 1, 2021, the Ontario government put in effect amendments to some regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The new amendment regulation is called O. Reg. 420/21. It streamlines requirements for notice and reporting of workplace accidents or death. It also defines what is meant by “critically injured” under the OHSA.

Defining “Critically Injured”

One of the amendments provides clarification on what “critically injured” means under the OHSA. Critically injured means the injury is of a serious nature. What constitutes a serious nature are one or more of the following factors:

  • The injury places life in jeopardy;
  • The injury produces unconsciousness;
  • The injury results in substantial loss of blood;
  • The injury involves the fracture of a leg or arm but not a finger or toe;
  • The injury involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand, or foot but not a finger or toe;
  • The injury consists of burns to a major portion of the body; or
  • The injury causes the loss of sight in an eye.

Revoking Reporting and Notice Requirements Under OSHA

The amendments have also rescinded the requirements to provide notice or make a formal report in certain workplace-specific regulations.

Those regulations include:

Streamlining Notice and Reporting Requirements

The main focus of the new amendments affects reporting and notice requirements, effectively streamlining the reporting requirements under one regulation. This affects all workplaces regulated under the OHSA. In other words, if a worker has been critically injured or killed at the workplace, then the employer must inform the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

Once again, this regulation applies to all workplaces regulated under the OHSA. The only exception is where a worker is critically injured or killed as a result of a collision on a highway, as per section 2 of Ontario Regulation 420/21.

The new streamlined reporting and notice requirements are as follows:

Employers have an obligation to provide certain information to the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development in a written report or written notice if:

  • An employee is killed or critically injured from any cause at a workplace as described in subsection 51 (1) of the Act;
  • An employee is disabled from performing his or her usual work or requires medical attention because of an accident, explosion, fire, or incident of workplace violence at a workplace, but no person dies or is critically injured because of that occurrence as described in subsection 52 (1) of the Act; or
  • The employer is advised by or on behalf of a worker that the worker has an occupational illness or that a claim in respect of an occupational illness has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board by or on behalf of the worker as described in subsection 52 (2) of the Act.

Further, employers are required to provide written notice to the Ministry, if:

  • An accident, premature or unexpected explosion, fire, flood or inrush of water, cave-in, subsidence, or rock burst occurs at a project site, mine or mining plant as described in subsection 53 (1) of the Act;
  • The failure of any equipment, machine, device, article, or thing occurs at a project site, mine or mining plant as described in subsection 53 (1) of the Act that could have posed a risk to worker life, health, or safety; or
  • An incident prescribed under subsection (3) occurs.

The information that must be provided to the Ministry includes the address, name, and type of business of the employer, the date, time, nature, and occurrence of the incident and more, and can be found under s. 3(2) of the Regulation. There are more requirements that specifically affect construction projects, mines and mining plants and more. Employers should review O. Reg. 420/21 and become familiar with its requirements and the reporting requirements of the OHSA, in general.

It is the employer’s obligation to ensure a safe workplace. Employers should keep well informed about developments to workplace safety rules and regulations. Employers should thoroughly review the OHSA and the new amendments.

Contact Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP in Ontario for Questions Regarding the OSHA

It is important that employers understand their obligations under the OHSA. Failing to do so can result in a temporary shut-down of operations, fines and more.

For advice on employer liability, employee rights and other employment or labour law matters, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP. We regularly advise workplace parties on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416-364-9599 to schedule a consultation.