Health & Safety Act Applies to All Workplaces

There are some misconceptions regarding the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and how it applies to workplaces which do not pay premiums to WSIB (these workplaces are usually covered by Injury Extension policies through General Liability Insurance).

The OHSA applies to all workplaces, regardless of which insurance type you have.  Your business is still responsible for ensuring all Health and Safety legislation and policies are in place and utilized.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) can levy fines to any workplace under the provisions of the OHSA; therefore, private insurance may not cover the claim if it can be “proven” that the workplace was not following OHSA practices.

Further, Employees have the right to sue the Employer for damages when injured in a workplace that is not following the provisions of the OHSA.

If the workplace is not participating in WSIB, the employee has no restrictions on the right to sue other than the statute of limitations under common law. The employer’s private insurance coverage (the payout to employee) would be subject to any deductible amounts, as well as the payout limits on the policy. If the employee wins $3million in damages, and your policy only covers your business for $2million, the business (and therefore the owner) is responsible for the remaining $1million.  Ouch!

If the workplace pays premiums to the WSIB, the provisions of the WSIA (not OHSA) severely limits the injured employee’s ability to sue an employer for damages when injuries or illness occur as a result of work.  This is because the employee has access to healthcare, medication, retraining and other benefits.  However, in some cases where the employee can show severe negligence on the part of the employer, the right to sue has been upheld.

Contact me with your questions on this or other HR topics, I am always happy to help!