Bill 177 and Your PROactive Measures to Avoid Penalities

Bill 177 and OSHA Amendments ergonomic services

On December 14th, 2017, Bill 177, referred to as the “Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act” received Royal Assent and as a result, notable amendments to statues were made that immediately affect Ontario businesses. We want to highlight the changes to statutes that affect the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA), and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).

OHSA Amendments

  1. Maximum Penalty Provisions for Offences: the maximum individual fine was changed from $25,000 to $100,000 and the maximum corporation fine was changed from $500,000 to $1,500,000.
  2. Initiating Prosecution: The Crown was provided one year from the date of an accident, incident or contravention of the OHSA to initiate prosecution. This limitation period now expires one year from the date of contravention, or one year from the date upon an Ontario Ministry of Labour Inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence, whichever of the two cases is the later period. For example, if a company did not report an offence under the OHSA and a MOL Inspector became aware of the events two years after the event, prosecution could still be initiated within the year it was noted.
  3. Reporting Responsibilities: Previously employers only had to report certain accidents and use of substances to the OHSA to be compliant. The amendments now require employers to report any structural inadequacies brought up by the Joint Health & Safety Committees or representatives, and potentially, any non-critical injuries (i.e. not requiring hospitalization) for certain work environments.

WSIA Amendments

  1. Effective January 1st, 2018, Bill 127, the “Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act” amended the WSIA and now allows employees to receive benefits for Chronic Mental Stress arising out of, and in the course of, employment. This bill provides transitional rules to determine entitlement to these claims, and those that occurred BEFORE, as outlined below
    • Claims of mental stress occurring between April 29, 2014 - January 1, 2018 that have yet not been filed, can be filed until July 2018.
    • Mental stress claims that were already filed and are still pending before the WSIB on January 1st, 2018 will be adjudicated by the WSIB pursuant to the new provisions.
    • If a worker (or survivor) filed a mental stress claim and their timely appeal is filed with, or is pending, before the WSIAT as of January 1st, 2018, the WSIAT will refer the claim back to the WSIB to re-adjudicate the claim pursuant to the new provisions.
    • Workers cannot re-file mental stress claims that were already denied by the WSIB or WSIAT.

As you can see, the amendments have serious ramifications on your responsibility as the employer to be PROactive in providing a workplace that anticipates potential events and complies with the new amendments to the OSHA and WSIA. Alternatively, the consequences of being reactive can cost you millions and/or incarceration, as well as impact your company’s profits and public image.

A Certified Professional Ergonomist from PROergonomics can help you with this transitional process in many ways, including completing:

  1. Job Hazard/Safety Assessments
    Having a formal process and procedure for documenting safety hazards in the workplace is integral to understanding and communicating hazards to your supervisors and staff. A Job Hazard Assessment can be a valuable identification and training tool to use as part of this process.
  2. Safe Supervisor Training
    Your supervisors are your first line of defense when it comes to identifying and addressing safety concerns in the workplace and they play a very important role in the injury reporting process. Ensuring they are trained on the new legislation and their role will help protect them (and the employer) from prosecution.
  3. Identify and Quantify Ergonomic Hazards
    One of your responsibilities is to identify, educate on, and address hazards in the workplace, many of which are likely ergonomic in nature. An ergonomic assessment identifies the hazards present and compares them to standards and guidelines to determine the likelihood of causing an injury. Hazard documented as moderate and high risk should be communicated to employees.
  4. Cognitive Demands Assessment
    When addressing claims of cognitive mental stress in the workplace it’s important to have objective documentation of what the job requires from a cognitive perspective. Much like a Physical Demands Assessment, a Cognitive Demands Assessment describes what is required in the job, considering factors like: Memory, Literacy, Supervision, Attention to Detail and more.

Click HERE to learn more about all the valuable services PROergonomics offers that will help you be ready for a workplace inspection!

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