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Act First Safety FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Working at Heights / Fall Protection Training Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1) Who must attend working at heights training in Ontario?

Workers whose employment activities are within the scope of Ontario’s Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) must successfully complete an Ontario Ministry of Labour-approved working at heights training program. Upon completion, learners receive a 3-year certificate of training from the Ministry of Labour that qualifies them to work at heights on construction projects.

2) What is the difference between an Ontario Ministry of Labour-approved working at heights training program for construction project workers and other fall protection training for non-construction workers?

Working at heights training for construction project workers: Employers must ensure that certain workers complete a working at heights training program that has been approved by the Ministry of Labour’s Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) and delivered by a CPO-approved training provider before they can work at heights.

The training requirement is for workers on construction projects who use any of the following methods of fall protection: travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, fall arrest systems, safety nets and work belts or safety belts.

This training requirement is in the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13), and is in addition to training requirements under the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91)

Fall protection training for non-construction workers: Workers do not have to complete CPO-approved working at heights training if they work at workplaces that are not covered by the Construction Projects Regulation.

Under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), these workers are still required to complete appropriate fall protection training to minimize their risk of injury due to a fall.

3) If I’ve had previous working at heights or fall protection training, do I need to be retrained?

Previous training before April, 2015: Construction project workers, who completed working at heights or fall protection training prior to April, 2015 have been given a 2.5 year transition period to update their training. Prior to Oct.1, 2017 workers in this circumstance must complete an Ontario Ministry of Labour-approved working at heights program. After that date, certificates for their earlier training will no longer be valid.

Previous Training since April, 2015: If you’ve completed working at heights training since April, 2015 in an Ontario Ministry of Labour-approved working at heights training program, your certificate is valid for 3 years from the date it was issued. After 3 years, you will be required to take a refresher course to update your knowledge and skills.

 

 

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1) What is WHMIS?
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a Canada-wide system designed to give employers and workers information about hazardous materials used in the workplace. Under WHMIS, there are three ways in which information on hazardous materials is provided:
• labels on the containers of hazardous materials;
• Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to supplement the label with detailed hazard and precautionary information; and
• worker education programs.
The manufacturer, supplier or distributor of the hazardous material provides the labels and Safety Data Sheets to the employer. The employer passes the information on to the worker and provides education programs.

2) There are currently two WHMIS systems – WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 (under GHS). What is the difference between these systems?

WHMIS, the original Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, was implemented in 1988. It was established to give all working Canadians consistent and accurate information about hazardous materials they may be exposed to in the workplace. WHMIS 1988 incorporates safety labelling on containers, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and worker education programs.

WHMIS 2015 builds on WHMIS 1988 by incorporating elements from the internationally
recognized Global Harmonized System (GHS), and establishes new rules for classifying
and labelling of hazardous workplace materials, and new information for Safety Data
Sheets (formerly Material Safety Data Sheets). This new WHMIS system aligns Canada’s
occupational hazard classification and communication requirements with those used by
the United States and other major trading partners.

Under WHMIS 2015|GHS, “controlled products” are called “hazardous products” and there are:
• new rules for classifying hazardous workplace chemicals;
• two main hazard classes – physical hazards and health hazards;
• new label requirements, including pictograms instead of symbols (WHMIS 1988) that correspond to hazard classes; and,
• an expanded 16-section standard format for Safety Data Sheets (changed from Material Safety Data Sheets under WHMIS 1988).
While WHMIS 2015|GHS provides an internationally consistent approach, the key responsibilities of suppliers, employers and workers are the same under WHMIS 2015.

3) What is GHS?

The Global Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an international system to standardize chemical hazard classification and communication globally.

With a growing global economy, Canadian workers are increasingly exposed to hazardous chemicals in products produced in other countries. The GHS system will enhance workplace safety by ensuring labelling and safety information is consistent throughout the world.

GHS is being implemented in Canada in three phases with the transition being completed December 1, 2018. GHS is not replacing WHMIS. It is being incorporated into Canada’s WHMIS 2015 system. This is resulting in new standardized:
• Classification criteria
• Label requirements
• Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements (formerly Material Safety Data Sheet – MSDS)

4) Is there a process and time frame to transition from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015|GHS?

The transition period to move from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 (with GHS) is from Feb, 2015 to Dec 1, 2018. As time gets closer to the 2018 deadline, employers will see an increasing number of the new GHS labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) entering their workplaces.

During the transition period (to Dec 1, 2018), employers may continue to have WHMIS 1988 labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in their workplace. If so, they must also continue to educate workers about WHMIS 1988.

5) Have employer’s duties and responsibilities changed under WHMIS 2015 and GHS?

Under WHMIS 2015|GHS, employers must continue to:
• Educate and train their workers on the hazards and safe use of products
• Ensure that hazardous products are properly labelled
• Prepare workplace labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) as necessary
• Provide access for workers to up-to-date SDS
• Review the education and training provided to workers annually or whenever work conditions or hazard information changes.

6) During the transition period (to Dec 1, 2018) are workers required to be trained in both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015?

Response provided by Ontario Ministry of Labour for businesses operating in Ontario
Yes. During the transition, employers must ensure that workers are trained on:
• controlled products with WHMIS 1998 labels and Material Safety Data Sheets for as long as they are still used in the workplace; and,
• hazardous products with WHMIS 2015|GHS labels and Safety Data Sheets, as soon as practicable after these products enter the workplace and, in some cases, before they are used.
The type and amount of training will depend on whether a product is new to the workplace and/or newly classified as a hazardous product.
• If the product is a controlled product under WHMIS 1988 and is already used in the workplace, workers should already be trained to work with it safely.
• If the same product enters the workplace with WHMIS 2015|GHS labels and safety data sheets, and workers know how to work with it safely, workers may continue to use the product but must be trained as soon as practicable on the content and format of the new supplier labels and Safety Data Sheets.
• If a hazardous product enters the workplace with WHMIS 2015|GHS labels and Safety Data Sheets, and it was not previously used at the workplace, the product may be stored but not used until workers are trained on the new supplier labels and Safety Data Sheets as well as procedures for the safe use, storage, handling and disposal of the product, including in an emergency. The same applies if a product is a hazardous product under the new system but was not classified as a controlled product under the old system.

7) What can employers do during the transition period (up to Dec 1, 2018) to ensure their workers are safe from hazardous materials that may be labelled under either of the WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 (under GHS) systems?

• Review your current WHMIS practices and policies to identify if the correct labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and safety precautions are in place for products labelled under the WHMIS 1988 regulations.

• Assess if products labelled under the Global Harmonized System (GHS) are already in your workplace, or are anticipated to arrive in the near future; if so, you must implement new workplace procedures and policies that comply with the WHMIS 2015|GHS regulations.

• Consider implementing a blended MSDS/SDS Management System to ensure your employees have up-to-date training and accurate information about hazardous materials labelled under either system.

• Once a year, or when workplace conditions change (i.e. new types of hazardous materials or GHS labelling enter your workplace), review your WHMIS training program and update your workplace procedures and policies if necessary to ensure workers are safe when handling, storing, transporting or disposing products that contain dangerous materials.

• Stay informed about WHMIS 2015|GHS and new information about hazardous materials.

8) What WHMIS training options are available?

Act First Safety provides flexible WHMIS training that covers both the original WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015|GHS. This training can be taken online at Act First Safety’s website or through instructor-led training session at your workplace. Call for more information or to book your training.

9) Who should receive WHMIS education and training?

In Canada, if a workplace uses hazardous products, there must be a WHMIS program in place. Workers must be educated and trained so they understand the hazards, and know how to work safely with hazardous products.
All workers who work with a hazardous product, or who may be exposed to a hazardous product as part of their work activities must learn about the hazard information for these products. The hazard information should include the information received from the supplier, as well as any other information that the employer is aware of about the safe use, storage, handling and disposal of each product.
As an example, this education and training will include all workers who:
• May be exposed to a hazardous product due to their work activities (including normal use, maintenance activities, or emergencies).
• Use, store, handle or dispose of a hazardous product.
• Supervise or manage workers who may be exposed, or use, store, handle or dispose of a hazardous product.
• Are involved in emergency response.

10) What legislation covers the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) in Canada and Ontario?

WHMIS legislation was originally implemented in 1988. WHMIS 2015|GHS, includes the amended Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). Both the HPA and HPR are currently in force.

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is implemented by a combination of federal and provincial legislation. The main purpose of the federal WHMIS legislation is to require the suppliers of hazardous materials used in the workplace to provide health and safety information about their products as a condition of sale.

The main purpose of the provincial WHMIS legislation is to require employers to obtain health and safety information about hazardous materials in the workplace and to pass this information on to workers.

Ontario’s WHMIS Legislation
There are two pieces of provincial legislation that implement WHMIS in Ontario:
1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, which places duties on employers in charge of workplaces where hazardous materials are used, to obtain labels and material safety data sheets from their suppliers and to provide worker education programs.
2. The WHMIS Regulation, Ontario Regulation 644/88 (now R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 860), which came into effect on October 31, 1988. This regulation sets out in detail the employer duties respecting labels, material safety data sheets and worker education.

How is WHMIS enforced in Ontario?

WHMIS is enforced by each provincial government. In Ontario, WHMIS is enforced by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

 

Workplace Violence Prevention Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1) What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as:

  • the exercise or attempted exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; or
  • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

This definition of workplace violence is broad enough to include acts that would constitute offences under Canada’s Criminal Code.

2) What is workplace harassment?

Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

The comments or conduct typically happen more than once. They could occur over a relatively short period of time (for example, during the course of one day) or over a longer period of time (weeks, months or years).

Workplace harassment can involve unwelcome words or actions that are known or should be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating or demeaning to a worker or group of workers. It can also include behaviour that intimidates, isolates or even discriminates against the targeted individual(s).

Workplace harassment often involves repeated words or actions, or a pattern of behaviors, against a worker or group of workers in the workplace that are unwelcome.

This definition of workplace harassment is broad enough to include harassment prohibited under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, as well as what is often called “psychological harassment” or “personal harassment.”

3) What is sexual harassment?

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), sexual harassment is defined as:

  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; or
  • Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

4) What is workplace conflict?

Workplace conflict, also known as organizational conflict, is defined as a state of discord caused by the real or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between entities working together.

Interpersonal conflict occurs when a person or group reach a state of disunity, and actually or are perceived to frustrate or interfere with others’ efforts in achieving a goal or by being in opposition to each other’s needs, values or interests.

5) What are an employer’s responsibilities with regard to workplace violence / harassment, and sexual violence / harassment?

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer’s responsibilities include the following:

  • Assess the risks of workplace violence occurring based on the nature of the workplace, type of work or conditions of work;
  • Prepare workplace violence and harassment policies;
  • (For workplaces with 6 or more employees) Put these policies into writing and post them where all employees can easily see and read them;
  • Review these policies as needed or at least annually; and
  • Implement a program that supports the policies (see FAQ 9 for program content details);

6) Do employers need a workplace violence prevention policy?

Every employer in Ontario must prepare and review at least annually a policy on workplace violence, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

This policy is required regardless of the size of the workplace or the number of workers.*

If six or more workers are regularly employed at a workplace, this policy must be in writing and posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace.*

If fewer than six workers are regularly employed at the workplace, the policy does not necessarily have to be written.  However, a Ministry of Labour inspector may order the policy to be in writing.*

*Source of information:  Ontario Ministry of Labour in reference to OHSA (section 32.0.1)

7) What should be included in a workplace violence prevention policy?

A workplace violence prevention policy should:

  • affirm an employer’s commitment to protecting workers from workplace violence;
  • address violence from all possible sources (customers, clients, employers, supervisors, workers, strangers and domestic/intimate partners);
  • specify the roles and responsibilities of managers, supervisors and workers in supporting the policy and program;
  • procedures to protect workers during incidence of violence, to de-escalate violence in progress, and to conduct an investigation into violent occurrences or threats; and
  • be dated and signed by the highest level of management of the employer or at the workplace as appropriate (examples may include, but are not limited to: the President, Chief Executive Officer, senior human resources professional or uppermost member of management at the workplace).

8) What does it mean to assess the potential risk to workers from violence?

In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires employers to assess the risks of workplace violence, and to put in place policies and programs regarding workplace violence and workplace harassment (including sexual harassment and sexual violence).

Assessing risk is the process of determining what the likelihood is of violence occurring in the workplace, and to what level those occurrences would impact workers’ health and safety.  This includes assessing:

  • the general physical environment  – a survey of the physical environment and security measures at your workplace; and
  • risks specific to your workplace – identifying any specific risk that exists in your workplace including: direct contact with clients; handling cash; working alone or in small numbers; working with unstable or volatile people; working in a community‐based setting; mobile workplace; working in high crime areas; securing or protecting valuable goods; transporting people or goods.
  • Other contributing factors such as time of day (early morning, late evenings, etc.), workers working alone, geography (working in remote locations), potential of violence from external sources (crime, civil unrest, etc.)

Risk assessment tools and checklists are available to download from the Ontario Ministry of Labour website.

9) What should a workplace violence prevention program include?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires every employer to develop and maintain a program to implement their workplace violence policies.  The program must include:

  1. measures and procedures to control the risks identified in the assessment required under subsection 32.0.3(1) as likely to expose a worker to physical injury;
  2. measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur;
  3. measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence to the employer or supervisor;
  4. how the employer will investigate and deal with incidents or complaints of workplace violence; and
  5. any other elements prescribed in regulation.

The workplace violence program may incorporate or reference existing programs, procedures or protocols related to workplace violence. For example, there could be existing procedures for emergency situations, incident reporting or personal safety.

10) What training is required for managers, supervisors and workers with regard to workplace violence and harassment prevention?

In Ontario, all workers, as defined under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), must be provided with information and instruction on the contents of the employer’s workplace violence and harassment prevention policy and programs including, but not limited to, regular workers, new hires, contract, casual, temporary, part-time and student workers.

If there are substantial changes to the policy or programs, the employer must ensure that workers are informed of the changes and instruction must be provided.

Workers must receive information and instruction in a manner and language that they would reasonably understand.

Supervisors and managers must be provided with additional information and instruction on how to recognize workplace violence and harassment, and how to handle a complaint of workplace violence or harassment.

Investigators, whether a manager, supervisor, human resource representative or a person designated by the employer, must receive information and instruction on how to conduct an investigation appropriate in the circumstances, including not disclosing information unless it is necessary to conduct the investigation, take corrective action or otherwise required by law.

Joint health and safety committee or health and safety representatives (if any) must receive information and instruction on the employer’s workplace violence and harassment prevention program including how to help a worker report an incident of workplace violence or harassment, and what resources are available to a worker who has allegedly experienced violence or harassment.

11) What legislation covers workplace violence and harassment, and sexual violence and harassment?

In Ontario, legislation covering workplace violence and harassment includes:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
  • Bill 168, Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009
  • Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment) 2016
  • Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Canada Criminal Code