Occupational Health & Safety Act


All workers in Ontario are legislated under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. This is the lawbook for Ontario workplaces, and the Act and regulations provide standards in the workplace for Employers, Supervisors and Employees to follow.

There is other contributing legislation which includes the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act, Part II which deals with the prevention of occupational injury and disease and the Human Rights Code.

The main purpose of the Act is to protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job and set standards for employers to follow.  It sets out duties for all workplace parties and rights for workers.  It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and provides enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved. The Ministry of Labour is like the police for the workplace.

The goal for the Ministry is for all workplaces to maintain a high safety standard and use the OHSA and regulations as a guideline to keep workplaces safe.

Internal Responsibility System

A well-functioning program is only successful if there is a strong Internal Responsibility System (IRS). The IRS is when Management, Supervisors and Workers are all focused on the safety of the workplace.  They work in conjunction with the Joint Health & Safety Committee and the Ministry of Labour to ensure success.  Where this does not happen, progressive enforcement results. Enforcement begins with the issuing of orders and may proceed to prosecution.

Ministry of Labour Inspectors

Inspectors of the Ministry of Labour enforce the Act; their role includes the following:

  • inspection of workplaces
  • issuing of orders where there is a contravention of OHSA or its regulations
  • investigation of accidents and work refusals
  • resolution of disputes
  • recommendation of prosecution.

Rights & Responsibilities:

  • Section 25 & 26 of the Act outline the role of the Employer.  Every Employer shall ensure that they have a safe work environment, ensure all equipment and processes are running properly and do everything necessary for the protection of the worker.
  • Section 27 of the Act outlines the role of the Supervisor. They are to provide instruction to the worker, monitor the worker to ensure they do not injure themselves or others and enforce safe practices in the workplace.
  • Section 28 of the Act outlines the role of the Worker as well as their rights.

Workers’ Rights

  • The right to know the hazards you are dealing with
  • The right to participate in training  & obtain information
  • The right to refuse unsafe work

Workers’ Responsibilities

Workers Shall:

  1. Work in compliance with this act and regulations.
  2. Use or wear the protective equipment or devices required to be worn.
  3. Report to their employer or supervisor the absence of or defective equipment which may endanger the worker or other workers.
  4. Report to their employer any contravention of this act or regulations or of any hazard they may know.

Workers Shall not:

  1. Remove or make ineffective any protective device required by regulations without providing an adequate temporary device and when the need for removing or making ineffective the protective device has ceased, the protective device shall be replaced immediately.
  2. Use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing that will endanger themselves or others.
  3. Engage in any prank, contest, feat of strength, unnecessary running or rough and boisterous conduct.