4 hot topics for workplace safety

Higher fines, extended limitation periods among new challenges for employers

4 hot topics for workplace safety

The Employment Law Masterclass Toronto is returning for 2022. Designed with HR professionals in mind, it provides a comprehensive program of legal updates, practical advice, and developments affecting employers’ workforce obligations.

The lineup of employment law experts in attendance includes Ryan Conlin, a partner at Stringer in Toronto.

His session will help employers stay on top of new OHS legislation and ensure that they are providing a safe working environment for employees and subcontractors.

Four important areas Conlin will focus on include:

  • new, higher fines for officers, directors, and supervisors
  • the new two-year limitation period to lay charges
  • training workers on naloxone kits
  • the impact of a Supreme Court case on employer liability for subcontractors

The new fines came into force with Ontario’s Working for Workers Act earlier in 2022.

“We're looking at much more significant penalties against individual supervisors, workers and officers and directors,” says Conlin, for example, rising from a maximum of  $100,000 to $500,000.

“Basically, the standard rationale is to make people take occupational health and safety seriously. And point out that it's not just corporations who could be held accountable for strict penalties, it's also individuals.”

As for the limitation period being increased, that means if there is a workplace accident or contravention, employers and others “have that hanging over their head for two years instead of one which is a significant change,” he says.

In response to the opioid crisis, employers are now required to provide a naloxone kit at the workplace, and train people on how to use it, if they believe that there's a reasonable risk of there being an opioid overdose at their facility.

“As usual with the government, there's no actual explanation as to how one is supposed to assess whether there's a risk of such a thing or not at their facility, or any guidance on what exactly qualifies as the training,” says Conlin. “It's a good topic for the course because, certainly, employers are [thinking] ‘Well, what do we do with this?’”

Lastly, the Supreme Court is set to address a case looking at employer liability when it comes to the actions of subcontractors on construction projects.

Ontario (Labour) v. Sudbury (City), 2021 ONCA 252 is a pretty significant case, says Conlin, who is arguing the case.

“Basically, in that case, the city subcontracted for a construction company and there was a fatality when, unfortunately, a member of the public was run over by a road grader and the city was charged.”

Register today for the Employment Law Masterclass to hear more from leading employment lawyers on important HR-related issues.

Latest stories