June 14, 2018
Changes to Set Fines for OHSA Violations
Pursuant to Part I of the Provincial Offences Act, Ministry of Labour Inspectors are authorized to issue tickets and summonses for minor Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) infractions. Tickets are subject to a set or predetermined fine and function the same as a ticket that may be issued by the police for speeding or other moving violation: there is no requirement to attend court and, if not challenged by requesting a trial, the set fine is to be paid by the recipient of the ticket. A ticket can only be issued for an offence that has been “scheduled” meaning that a set fine for the offence has been set out in a schedule issued by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice.
The Ontario Court of Justice recently increased existing set fines and created new scheduled offences under the OHSA. These penalties include new and amended fines for breaches of the OHSA and its regulations, including Regulation 297/13 (Safety Awareness and Training), Regulation 851 (Industrial Establishments), and Regulation 213/91 (Construction Projects), and have been scheduled for owners, constructors, employers, supervisors and workers. The new scheduled offences address a range of matters including:
- The completion of mandatory basic occupational health and safety awareness and working at heights training;
- Maintaining records relating to basic occupational health and safety awareness and working at heights training;
- The selection of a health and safety representative or establishment of a Joint Health and Safety Committee;
- The development and maintenance of workplace violence and harassment policies and programs and training on same;
- The use of guardrails or other methods of fall protection; and
- Failing to notify the Ministry of Labour of a project or certain kinds of construction work.
The new set fines for these offences range from $250 to $650 with the lesser penalties scheduled for workers (for whom set fines are either $250 or $350), more significant penalties for supervisors (either $450 or $550), and the highest penalties for owners, constructors and employers (fines of either $550 or $650). It should be noted that the set fine is only part of the penalty because the Provincial Offences Act imposes a victim fine surcharge (which will range from $50 for a $250 offence to $125 for a $650 offence) and costs (which is $5.00 per ticket).
The expansion in the breadth of scheduled offences suggests that Ministry of Labour Inspectors may use them more frequently as an immediate means of penalizing workplace parties for contraventions of the OHSA or its regulations. That said, and notwithstanding the increase in the penalties available, it is unlikely that tickets would be used to address serious workplace incidents such as those involving serious injury or a significant accident. Those are likely to be addressed using the process provided for in Part III of the Provincial Offences Act which engages the, recently increased, maximum penalties available under the OHSA: a fine of up to $1.5 million, per offence, for a corporation and a fine of up to $100,000 and/or 12 months in jail, per offence, for an individual.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer directly for more assistance.