Ontario repeals 'industrial exception' for professional engineers

Employers who file transition plan will have 1 year to meet new requirement

Workers in Ontario who are responsible for professional engineering work in relation to production machinery or equipment must be licensed by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), effective March 1.

The new requirement is the result of a change to the Professional Engineers Act that will remove the current "industrial exception." With the repeal of section 12(3)(a) of the Professional Engineers Act, individuals must now be licensed by PEO if they do any act within the practice of professional engineering on machinery or equipment used to produce products for their employer in their employer's facility.

When the exception was enacted in 1984, requirements existed for Ontario's Ministry of Labour engineers to approve predevelopment reviews of proposed industrial processes and associated equipment. This requirement was replaced by regulation 851 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which introduced the current requirement for industry to have professional engineers approve pre-start health and safety reviews (PSRs) prior to the start-up of newly installed or altered production equipment or machinery. If a PSR finds deficiencies in the setup of equipment or machinery, the equipment or machinery cannot be used until the necessary changes are made and subsequently PSR approved.

Ontario has also approved a regulatory provision to help employers make the transition to the new requirement. Under this regulation, employers who file a transition plan with PEO by March 1 will have up to one year to meet the requirement.

To provide further support, PEO has extended its financial credit program, which waives PEO's licence application fee for eligible new graduates and newcomers to Canada, to all employees who apply for a licence by March 1 who are named in their employer's compliance plan filed with PEO by March 1.

PEO will also assist these employees through the one-year compliance period by providing application and engineering intern program seminars, and administering its professional practice exams at their job sites for groups of at least 20 people. Instructional webinars and about the new requirement are also available on the PEO website.

Through the Professional Engineers Act, PEO governs more than 80,000 licence and certificate holders and regulates professional engineering in Ontario.

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