• Michael DouglasOHSA Has Tripled Corporate Fines: Are You Prepared?

    In the most far-reaching changes made to the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) in over 15 years, the government has moved to, amongst other matters, triple corporate OHS penalties and quadruple individual OHS penalties, 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

    From 1990 forward, until now, the maximum corporate penalty under the Ontario OHSA for a violation of the Act or Regulations, has been $500,000 per charge. Effective December 15, 2017, corporations are liable to a fine of not more than $1,500,000 per charge. A surcharge of 25%, required under the Provincial Offences Act, is in addition to those penalties;

    Quadrupled Individual OHS Fines

    OHSA LogoUntil now, any individual, including a supervisor, worker, director or officer, was liable to a maximum penalty under the Ontario OHSA of $25,000 per charge and/or one year in jail. Effective December 15, 2017, individuals are liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 per charge for a contravention of the OHSA or its Regulations, in addition to a potential jail term. A surcharge of 25%, required under the Provincial Offences Act, is in addition to those penalties;

    Limitation Period for Charges Expanded

    The limitation period for bringing a prosecution under the OHSA or its Regulations has historically been one year from the date of the alleged contravention. Effective now, the limitation period now includes the day upon which an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence. This results in the possibility that if an inspector becomes aware of circumstances providing a foundation for an alleged OHS contravention, even if it occurred more than one year ago, and even before this historic change, a charge could be commenced. Further, this could potentially create issues about what sentencing regime will apply;

    New Reportable Incident – Structural Inadequacy

    An employer must, effective December 15, 2017, 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. Note that 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; and

    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; where a person is disabled or requires medical attention because of an accident, explosion, fire, or incident of violence at a workplace; and where 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 organisation’s safety plan in place? Contact us today to arrange an audit of your safety program with one of our certified consultants.


    TAGS

    health and safety ministry of labour OHSA

    Michael Douglas | Market Segment Manager: Confined Space, Working at Heights & Respiratory Protection
    Levitt-Safety Limited Oakville


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