On October 1, 1979, Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) came into effect.
What is the OHSA?
The OHSA protects workers from health and safety hazards on the job. The OHSA outlines the rights and responsibilities for all workplace parties. It also establishes procedures for managing workplace hazards.
A number of sector, work or hazard-specific regulations are made under the OHSA. For instance, there are sector-specific regulations for construction projects and health care and residential facilities, work-specific regulations for confined spaces, and hazard-specific regulations for designated substances and needle safety.
Foundational to the OHSA is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS), which gives every workplace party direct responsibility for health and safety as part of their job. Each person, regardless of who or where they are within the organization, is expected to take initiative on health and safety issues, and work to solve problems and make improvements. All workplaces can achieve self-compliance with the OHSA and its regulations through a well-functioning IRS.
Who Does the OHSA Apply To?
The OHSA covers almost every worker, supervisor, employer and workplace in Ontario.
Who Enforces the OHSA?
Inspectors are the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Labour. Their role includes inspecting workplaces, issuing orders where there is a violation of the OHSA or its regulations, investigating accidents and work refusals, and resolving disputes. Enforcement begins with the issuing of orders and may proceed to prosecution.
What Does the OHSA Mean to PSHSA?
“Over the years, the regulatory requirements have become more specific to address the needs of changing times. The foundations are rooted in a collective and combined commitment to making workplaces safe.”
-Kamil Rizvi, Occupational Health & Safety Consultant, PSHSA
“The OHSA was an awesome step towards reducing workplace incidents and the legislation has decreased occupational injuries substantially since 1979. The incorporation of the Internal Responsibility System, Joint Health & Safety Committees and minimum OHS standards was a gargantuan step forward in modern occupational health and safety management. However, the OHSA must be coupled with a genuine and serious commitment by employers and workers to reduce OHS risk in the workplace. This is the first step to successful occupational health and safety management.
-Jeff Pajot, Occupational Health & Safety Consultant and Ergonomist, PSHSA
Join PSHSA in celebrating 40 years of healthier workers and safer working environments!
Learn more about Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.