In June 2021, the Ontario Government introduced a new regulation relating to workplace safety.
Enacted pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “Act”), O. Reg. 420/21 (the “Regulation”) came into force on July 1, 2021. It addresses employer obligations relating to notices and reporting requirements for workplace fatalities, critical injuries, occupations illnesses and other incidents.
More specifically, the Regulation deals with already-established notice and reporting obligations under ss. 51 to 53.1 of the Act.
Employers and employees alike should familiarize themselves with the changes to ensure that rights and obligations are being respected. Additionally, employers may need to update or change existing policies and procedures and should contact a lawyer to ensure compliance as soon as possible.
Regulation Repeals and Replaces Previous Requirements
One of the main purposes of the Regulation is to consolidate the notice and reporting requirements previously contained in a number of other regulations to provide greater clarity for employers regarding their obligations.
Therefore, the Regulation now outlines the notice and reporting requirements under ss. 51, 52, 53 and 53.1 of the Act that were contained in the following regulations, thus repealing the relevant provisions in each regulation simultaneously:
- Reg. 429/21: Farming Operations
- Reg. 426/21: Construction Projects
- Reg. 427/21: Health Care and Residential Facilities
- Reg. 428/21: Diving Operations
- Reg. 421/21: Industrial Establishments
- Reg. 422/21: Mines and Mining Plants
- Reg. 423/21: Oil and Gas – Offshore
- Reg. 425/21: X-Ray Safety
- Reg. 424/21: Window Cleaning
As such, the notice and reporting requirements previously contained in the above-mentioned regulations are now all specifically outlined in the Regulation.
Employers will need to review the Regulation to ensure their current policies and procedures comply with these requirements. In addition, reference to the above-mentioned regulations relating to notice and reporting requirements will need to be changed.
Record Retention Requirements
Pursuant to s. 6 of the Regulation, employers are required to retain a copy of any written notice or report required under ss. 51 to 53.1 of the Act for at least three years after the date the notice or report is made. Employers will need to ensure their current practices comply with this requirement.
Definition for “Critically Injured” and “Medical Attention”
Section 51 of the Act set out notice requirements for employers where a worker is killed or is critically injured from any cause at a workplace.
However, the Act itself does not provide a definition for “critically injured”. [Note: The below definition was previously set out in Regulation 834 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 (Critical Injury — Defined), which is now revoked.]
Thus, the Regulation sets out the legal definition for what qualifies as “critically injured” under the Act and for the purposes of the Regulation as follows:
“critically injured” means an injury of a serious nature that,
(a) places life in jeopardy,
(b) produces unconsciousness,
(c) results in substantial loss of blood,
(d) involves the fracture of a leg or arm but not a finger or toe,
(e) involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot but not a finger or toe,
(f) consists of burns to a major portion of the body, or
(g) causes the loss of sight in an eye.
Additionally, the Regulation establishes a definition for “medical attention” as “treatment from a legally qualified medical practitioner or a registered nurse who holds an extended certificate of registration under the Nursing Act, 1991”. This helps clarify s. 52 of the Act, which requires an employer to provide written notice where a worker “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.”
If you have questions about workplace safety or other employment issues, contact the offices of Guelph Peter McSherry Employment Lawyer. We regularly advise employees on their rights in the workplace. Contact us online or by phone at 519-821-5465 to schedule a consultation.