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Naloxone Kits Now Required in Certain Workplaces by June 1, 2023

Starting June 1, 2023, some Ontario employers will be required to provide naloxone kits in the workplace as well as worker training on how to administer naloxone. Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and can either be injected in a muscle or given as a nasal spray. 

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (“OHSA”) was amended by Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act, 2022 to add a new section 25.2 requiring certain employers to provide and maintain naloxone kits in the workplace. This amendment has now been proclaimed into force effective June 1, 2023.

The new section requires an employer that becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that there may be a risk of a worker having an opioid overdose at a workplace where that worker performs work for the employer, or where the prescribed circumstances exist, to provide and maintain in good condition a naloxone kit in that workplace. The employer must also ensure the kits are in the charge of a worker trained to recognize an opioid overdose and administer naloxone.

The Regulation

On December 12, 2022, Ontario published Regulation 559/22: Naloxone Kits, which provides further details on the new naloxone kit requirement:

  1. Every naloxone kit shall be used, stored and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. The contents of each naloxone kit must be kept in a hard case.
  3. The contents of each naloxone kit must be for a single use and promptly replaced after such use.
  4. The contents of each naloxone kit must not have expired.
  5. The names and workplace locations of the workers who are in charge of the naloxone kit in the workplace and who are trained to recognize an opioid overdose and administer naloxone, shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the vicinity of the kit.

The Regulation also prescribes the contents of the naloxone kits – both the nasal spray and injectable variety.

Ministry Guidance

Ontario has also published a Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (“Ministry”) guidance document to assist employers in determining whether they need naloxone kits in their workplaces, and if so, how, in the Ministry’s view, they can comply with the new law.

The Ministry indicates that there are a number of ways an employer may become aware that there is a risk of one of their workers having an opioid overdose in the workplace: voluntary disclosure by the worker, a previous history of opioid use or overdoses in the workplace, observing discarded drug paraphernalia, or if the Joint Health and Safety Committee or a worker safety representative advises the employer. The use of opioids as prescribed by a medical practitioner would not likely, by itself, create an awareness of a potential risk of overdose.

Importantly, the guidance specifies that the employer’s naloxone kit requirement is not triggered by risk created by workers in a workplace who do not perform work for that employer, nor is it triggered by a risk of overdose by workers outside of the workplace. Further, the naloxone kit requirement is not triggered by opioid risks created by non-workers, such as customers, clients, patients, or other members of the public.

There is no positive obligation on employers to assess or inquire about the risk of one of their workers having an opioid overdose in the workplace, though best practices may include incorporating opioid risk into the workplace’s risk assessment process.

The Ministry guidance outlines the required contents of naloxone kids and how they should be stored and disposed of when they have been used or have expired. It also details the number of kits required in a workplace (at least one) and the minimum number of staff required to be trained (depends on the workplace – must be sufficient number to ensure that there will always be a trained worker present and in the vicinity of the kit).

Free Naloxone Kits

For a limited time, employers required to comply with the new regulation can receive a free naloxone kit and training for up to two workers through the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance.

Employers should review their workplaces and consider whether they are compliant with the new requirements prior to June 1, 2023.

For any questions about the new requirement and its impact on your business, please contact a member of our Labour & Employment Group.



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