Health and safety committee member orientation.


Module 1.1 - Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, or the OHS Act, is one of the primary sources for legislative health and safety information; keep it close by to reference particular sections and requirements. There are also several Regulations specific to certain industries, such as Oil and Gas, or Healthcare. These particular Regulations will not apply at uOttawa; however, may be looked at as a best practice. The most pertinent Regulations that a committee member should be familiar with include the following:

If you’re not able to find a specific reference for a specific problem or concern, there is a “general duty clause” in section 25(2)(h). The general duty clause means that the employer (uOttawa) must “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker”. Supervisors also have similar responsibilities.

The hardcopy of the “green book” also features an index at the back of the book. You can search by keywords to find what you’re looking for. You can also look up the OHSA or any Regulation by going to

Try it yourself! Using the OHS Act & Regulations green book or using online resources such as eLaws, find and note the sections referring to:

  1. The powers of the joint health and safety committee;
  2. Exercising a work refusal;
  3. The duties of workers; and
  4. The definition of a critical injury

Module 1.2 - Criminal Code of Canada

In 2004, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended under Bill C-45. This Bill added section 217.1 to the Criminal Code of Canada which reads:

“Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."

This means that individuals may be charged with criminal negligence for the wanton and reckless disregard for the life / safety of other persons in the workplace.

A criminal charge is typically reserved for the most serious types of health and safety related offences, therefore it’s not tested on a regular basis; nonetheless, there have been several examples, including recent charges.

Module 1.3 - Worker's Rights

All workers in Ontario have core rights. These rights form the basis of the occupational health and safety system in Ontario.

  1. The right to know about hazards (either actual or potential) that the worker may encounter in the work activities.
  2. The right to participate; for example, as a member of the health and safety committee, or to become a certified member, etc.
  3. The right to refuse work that the worker believes may endanger him/herself or another worker.

Additionally, reprisals on the part of the employer for enacting any of these rights are prohibited by law. An example of a reprisal could include disciplinary action (suspension, penalties, etc.), intimidation, threats of dismissal, etc. If a reprisal is believed to have occurred, contact Risk Management.

This online session will focus more on the right to participate, the right to refuse unsafe work and the associated processes.