Ontario to Reward Safe Employers with New Financial Incentive Program

| 3 minutes

On November 22, 2019, the government of Ontario introduced Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers Program (the “Program”). The Program will formally recognize employers who successfully implement the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (the “OHSMS”) in their workplaces. An estimated $140 million in rewards will be provided by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to eligible employers in the form of premium rebates over a three-year period.

According to the Ministry of Labour, the Program’s intended purpose is to promote health and safety in the workplace and to help reduce work-related injuries and illness. The Program is made up of two parts:

  • accreditationof an OHSMS; and
  • recognition of employers who have successfully implemented an accredited OHSMS and meet other criteria set by the Chief Prevention Officer (the “CPO”) of the Ministry of Labour.

Accreditation

There are two ways to have your organization’s OHSMS qualify for accreditation under the Program:

  1. Create your own OHSMS and apply for accreditation.

Your organization may create its own OHSMS that satisfies the requirements of the CPO accreditation standard and then apply to have your OHSMS accredited by the CPO.

You can find more information about the CPO accreditation standard here.

  1. Create an OHSMS based on existing standards pre-accredited by the CPO.

As of November 2019, the CPO has pre-accredited the following standards:

  • ISO 45001:2018: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems;
  • CSA Z45001-19: Occupational Health and Safety Management;
  • BS OHSAS 18001: 2007: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems; and
  • COR™ (2020) updated standard to be available for implementation January 2020.

If your organization’s OHSMS is based on one of the above-noted pre-accredited standards, you do not need to apply separately to have it individually accredited.

Recognition

To be eligible for recognition by the CPO, your organization must satisfy the following four criteria:

  • successfully implement an OHSMS accredited by the CPO;
  • be audited by a third party to verify that your organization has successfully implemented an accredited OHSMS;
  • demonstrates compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In order to become a CPO recognized organization, the employer must have:
  • no Part III convictions under the Provincial Offences Act,within three years from the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition, for non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and
  • no ongoing prosecutions under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act,upon the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition, for non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and
  • demonstrates a commitment to worker participation and the internal responsibility system at the workplace.

Once recognized, your organization must report annually to the CPO to maintain its eligibility status. The CPO has the authority to revoke recognition at any time.

You can find more information about the CPO recognition criteria here.

Takeaway for Employers

It may be worthwhile for Ontario employers who pay high WSIB premiums to apply for accreditation and recognition by the CPO, as successfully applying for the Program can result in cost savings for your organization.

Should you have any questions or require assistance with applying for the Program, please do not hesitate to contact the members of our Ontario Labour and Employment Law Group.

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