Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Training (2014)

On November 15, 2013, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour announced that all workplaces covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) must ensure that workers and supervisors have completed a basic health and safety awareness training program by July 1, 2014. This includes all farms with paid employees* as agriculture operations have been covered under the Act since June 30, 2006. The Ministry of Labour has provided all the materials you will need to carry out the training.

*Note: an employee is anyone who provides labour on your farm in exchange for a wage (money), regardless of your relationship to them or the amount of time they work – if there's a wage involved, they are an employee. If you do not have paid employees, this training requirement does not apply to you.

What you have to do

If you currently have employees on the farm or will be hiring before July 1st, you will be required to provide the training to your workers and supervisors. If you will be hiring after the July 1st, you need to provide the training to your new employees as soon as possible after they have been hired.

If you have previously provided training to your employees that details rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, or they have previously received training from another employer, you may already be in compliance (*see below for more details).

The Ministry of Labour has provided a number of free options for your workers and supervisors to complete the training:  

•        An online e-learning module that presents the material through short videos and text; a printable certificate upon successful completion; or

•        A printable workbook that employees can complete and sign as proof of program completion.  The Ministry of Labour has included an employer guide for both workers and supervisor awareness training to help facilitate the process. Publications are available in multiple languages and the Ministry is also working on a low literacy version.

All Resources for Worker and Supervisor Awareness Training can be found here:

Take Note!

•         The deadline for compliance is July 1, 2014, when regulation comes into force.

•         The required training presents a general awareness of rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and does not replace the specific health and safety training and hazard identification for required for individual workplaces.

•         You do not have to report the training to the Ministry, but you must maintain a record of completion for all of your workers and supervisors and be able to present it should a ministry inspector visit your farm or workplace. A record of completion can be as simple as your employee signing and dating their workbook.  The Ministry of Labour Record Keeping Template can help when you have many employees taking the training.

•         This is a onetime deal for employees and supervisors in Ontario – as long as a certificate is on record at the place of employment, there is no need for re-training.  When hiring, check to see if your new employee has already completed the training.  If they have, then all you need is a copy of their certificate and you do not need to re-train your worker.

•         Both options should take between 45 minutes to one hour to complete. These training materials are offered for free from the Ministry and should cost nothing more than you and your employee(s) time, and possibly the costs for printing. The printed resources are also available free of charge from Service Ontario.

•       Supervisor Training: the definition of a ‘supervisor’ under the OHSA is “a person who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker”.  Anyone on the farm that fits that description must complete the supervisor training to be in compliance.  In the case of most farm operations, this means the farm owner/operator (i.e. “the boss”) is considered a supervisor. 

•        Employers are responsible to ensure that employees know the material.  If you would like to check your employee’s awareness, the Ministry has provided the following tools:

*Previously Completed Health and Safety Awareness Training

If you or another employer has previously provided health and safety awareness training to your employees, the Ministry has set out a minimum standard in the regulation (O.Reg. 297/13) to qualify for compliance.

To check if the content of your existing training program meets minimum standard, the Ministry of Labour has developed some tools to carry out an assessment:

•         Training Program Assessment for Workers

•         Training Program Assessment for Supervisors

UPDATE: Service Ontario website is currently indicating that the publications are now available to order in multiple languages. In the Service Ontario Search window, type the appropriate publication number for quick access:

Worker Workbook - 017398                                               
Supervisor Workbook - 018206
Employer Guides – 017399 & 018208                                  

Worker Workbook - 017400
Supervisor Workbook – N/A
Employer Guides – 017401

Worker Workbook - 018460
Supervisor Workbook - 018474
Employer Guides – 018481 & 018467

(The publications are also available in traditional and simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu)

Additional Resources from the Ministry of Labour:

Factsheet – The Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation: Supporting Healthy and Safe Workplaces

Frequently Asked Questions: New Regulatory Requirements for Mandatory Worker and Supervisor Awareness Training

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