Snow, Rain or Shine?: Five Tips for Employers on Winter Driving

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Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities in Ontario. Winter driving conditions can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Ontario employers have responsibilities under health and safety legislation to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers, to ensure that equipment is in good condition and to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect workers.[1]

Where driving is part of work-related duties, employers should take steps to ensure worker and vehicle safety, including by addressing special considerations for winter conditions and inclement weather.

Here are five tips for employers to consider for addressing risks associated with winter driving:

  1. Identify Risks: Where appropriate, consider when, where and how your employees need to use vehicles during inclement weather and whether there are other ways of completing tasks or of re-ordering working tasks to minimize driving in inclement weather.
  2. Prepare an Inclement Weather Policy: In conversation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative, if applicable, prepare a policy for inclement weather which sets out rules and guidelines for using work vehicles during inclement weather.
  3. Prepare the Fleet: Ensure that work vehicles are safe and suitable for their purpose. Ensure that the fleet is prepared for winter by making sure that vehicles are maintained and operated according to manufacturer’s instructions, safe work practices and the Highway Traffic Act. For company-owned vehicles, ensure that vehicles have matching winter tires.
  4. Prepare Drivers: Provide workers with the applicable policy, information, instruction, training and ongoing supervision. Consider providing employees with useful winter driving guides prepared by the Ministry of Transportation, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, or the Province of Ontario. Continue to observe employees to make sure that dangerous driving is corrected and provide additional instructions when required.
  5. Review Company Policies: Review and update inclement weather policies annually. Monitor performance of the programs and policies in light of any changes to the company’s operations. Enforce the policies using consistent and progressive disciplinary measures for employees who fail to comply.

If you have any questions regarding an employer’s obligations under health and safety legislation, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of our Labour & Employment group.

[1] Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSO 1990, c O.1, s. 25.

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