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Ontario mandates workplace health and safety training

The province is calling on employers to beef up awareness about workplace safety over the next several months. By July, all workplaces must ensure their employees complete a basic health and safety awareness course.

Mandatory health and safety awareness course will need to be done in workplaces by July

As of July, all workplaces in Ontario will be required to take part in a health and safety awareness course. (CBC)

The province is calling on employers to beef up awareness about workplace safety over the next several months. By July, all workplaces must ensure their employees complete a basic health and safety awareness course.

The mandatory health and safety training is the result of a Christmas Eve tragedy in 2009, when five construction workers fell from the 12th floor of a building in northwest Toronto. Four of the workers died.

The province put together a panel of experts to review workplace safety in Ontario — and the review showed many workers didn’t even know there was a health and safety act.

“That was kind of the last straw as far as the government was concerned,” said John Levesque, manager of program development for Workplace Safety North, a non-profit organization that trains and consults on safety.

“The point of this [training] is to raise awareness among workers about … the fact that occupational health and safety act exists and … that they have certain legal duties and rights under the occupational health and safety act.”

Different workplaces, different hazards

The Ministry of Labour is making the training course available to employers, free of charge, to keep the cost of training low.

Levesque said hazards range in different workplaces.

“If you are working in a restaurant, it could be something as simple as a spilled cup of coffee,” he explained. “Obviously, in a lot of the high hazard workplaces in the north, the hazards can be much more serious and the margin of error much thinner.”

All employers in Ontario must provide the course to workers before July, unless the employer is federal, Levesque said.

He added the training course will lay out the rights of employees and the responsibilities of supervisors.

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