In the most far-reaching changes made to the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) in over 15 years, the government has moved to triple corporate OHS penalties and quadruple individual OHS penalties, amongst other matters, effective December 15, 2017.
The amendments are made in a Bill titled the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017 (Bill 177). Here are the key changes:
Tripled Corporate OHS Fines
$500,000 was the maximum corporate penalty per charge for a violation of the Act or Regulations under the Ontario OHSA from 1990 until now
Corporations will now be liable for a fine of up to $1.5 million per charge.
There is also a 25% surcharge in addition to those penalties required under the Provincial Offences Act.
Quadrupled Individual OHS Fines
Until now any individual was liable for a maximum of $25,000 per charge and/or one year in jail. This included:
- director, or
Individuals will now be liable to receive a fine of up to $100,000 per charge as well as a potential jail term.
A 25% surcharge is added to those penalities as required under the Provincial Offences Act.
Limitation Period for Charges Expanded
Another notable change this Bill introduces is extending the limitation period for bringing a prosecution under OHSA.
The old limitation period for bringing a prosecution under OHSA was one year from the date of the alleged contravention.
Now the limitation period includes the day an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence. An inspector can now lay charges even if the violation occurred more than one year ago.
New Reportable Incident – Structural Inadequacy
An employer must now notify a MOL Director if a joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative identifies potential structural inadequacies of a workplace as a source of danger or a hazard to workers. This obligation does not apply to an employer that owns the workplace.
Further Reportable Incidents May Be Added to Regulations
The Bill 177 provisions amending the OHSA allow for passage of further Regulations to specify additional prescribed locations in which employers or other parties are required to report an accident or other incident under s. 53 of the OHSA, other than a project site or mine at which certain reportable events such as explosions, fires, floods, equipment failure, must now be reported. Section 53 OHSA has also been amended to clarify, in a new section 53(2), the persons who are obligated to give notice.
Potential Further Expansion to Content and Timing of Reportable Injury Notices
The Bill also allows for Regulations to specify additional notice requirements that must be met where:
- a person is killed or critically injured at a workplace
- a person is disabled or requires medical attention because of an accident, explosion, fire, or incident of violence at a workplace, and
- an accident occurs at a project site or mine.
This may result in requirements for further details and particulars of investigations and corrective action to be statutorily required in accident reports in the foreseeable future.
Is your organization’s safety plan in place?
Contact us today to arrange a review of your safety program with one of our certified consultants.