Whats going on with Bill 160

Recruitment of the Chief Prevention Officer is taking place following an extensive advertising campaign which commenced as soon as the bill received Royal Assent on June 1, 2011. The CPO will be working with the Prevention Council to develop an occupational health and safety strategy for the entire province, so this will be a very busy and often contentious position! The expectation is that the CPO will be appointed and in place before the end of Summer.

The Interim Prevention Council is busy advising on the functioning of the permanent Prevention Council which itself is expected to be in place by early 2012. Membership will comprise equal numbers of labour and employer representatives, and representation from non-unionized workers, the WSIB, and experts in occupational health and safety.

The IPC is also working with the Ministry of Labour regarding the implementation of the expert panel’s 11 priority recommendations. Bill 160 does not specifically mention these recommendations but Clause 7.1 (1) states:

“The Chief Prevention Officer may establish standards for training programs required under this Act or the regulations.”

This means that the CPO can introduce any requirement for training as he or she sees fit without further regulations being required.

There are groups already working on plans for mandatory awareness training for all workers and supervisors and on processes for resolving reprisal complaints. Future working groups will focus on mandatory entry-level training for construction workers and fall-protection training for those who work at heights.

The 11 priority recommendations of the Expert Panel are:

  1. A new prevention organization be created within the Ministry of Labour. The new organization would be headed by a Chief Prevention Executive, and would feature a multi-stakeholder Prevention Council; each would have specific powers explicitly defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  2. The Ministry of Labour should work with the new prevention organization to create a health and safety poster that explains the key rights and responsibilities of the workplace parties, including how to obtain additional health and safety information and how to contact a Ministry of Labour inspector. It should be mandatory to post this in the workplace.
  3. The Ministry of Labour should create a mandatory requirement for training of Health and Safety Representatives.
  4. The Ministry of Labour should require mandatory health and safety awareness training for all workers.
  5. The Ministry of Labour should require mandatory health and safety awareness training for all supervisors who are responsible for frontline workers.
  6. The Ministry of Labour and new prevention organization should develop mandatory entry level training for construction workers as a priority and consult with stakeholders to determine other sectors that should be subject to mandatory training for workers.
  7. The Ministry of Labour and new prevention organization should develop mandatory fall protection training for workers working at heights as a priority and consult with stakeholders to determine additional high hazard activities that should be subject to mandatory training for workers.
  8. The Minister of Labour should appoint a committee under Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide advice on matters related to the occupational health and safety of vulnerable workers.
  9. The Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Labour Relations Board should work together to develop a process to expedite the resolution of reprisal complaints under Section 50 of Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  10. A worker or employer involved in a reprisal complaint should have access to information and support from an independent, third-party organization, for example, the Office of the Worker Adviser or Office of the Employer Adviser.
  11. The Minister of Labour should create a small business Section 21 committee and appoint members that can represent the needs and interests of employers and workers in small businesses.

Prevention responsibilities will move from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to the Ministry of Labour in April 2012. It will mean that complete responsibility for Ontario’s four health and safety associations – and Health & Safety Ontario – will then reside with the ministry.

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