Legislation Updates

Saskatchewan Legislation Updates

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993

Remember to watch for the new Saskatchewan Employment Act, likely coming into force this fall. Part III & IV of the Act will replace the Occupational Health & Safety Act, with regulations to follow. New additions at that time will include responsibilities for “prime contractors” (as defined in the current Act), as well as increased penalty amounts for individuals and organizations.

Definitions

Competent: means possessing knowledge, experience and training to perform a specific duty.

This has been added to the Act because it is referred to in the General Duties of Employers (Section 3).

Supervisor: means a person who is authorized by an employer to oversee or direct the work of the employer’s workers.

This has been added to the Act because a General Duties of Supervisors section has been added (Section 3.1).

Train: Training requires that workers:

  • Be given the appropriate information
  • Have that information explained by a competent person
  • Are verbally or otherwise tested to ensure that they have learned the knowledge and skills they need.

Employers are responsible to provide appropriate information to workers, ensure it is explained by a competent person and that workers are assessed in some way to demonstrate they know the information provided. Persons who are accused of failing to adequately train workers must be able to prove that the training provided to these workers met the requirements of this Act and the regulations. Section 62.1 is intended to motivate employers to be duly diligent in training and to document it, e.g., maintain copies of training certificates and produce the documentation when an occupational health officer requests it.

General Duties of Employers

Consulting and Cooperating with your Occupational Health & Safety Committee:

  • Employers must make a reasonable attempt to resolve, in a timely manner, concerns raised by the committee.
  • Employers must ensure that the Committee’s duties are not diminished or replaced by any other workplace committee (Section 19(2)).

Ensuring workers are trained and supervised:

  • Employers must ensure that workers are trained in every way necessary to protect their health and safety. All work must be sufficiently and competently supervised.
  • Employers must be able to show that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure supervisors are aware of their legal duties for health and safety, and that those supervisors ensure their workers follow the legislation and the company’s policies and practices.

General Duties of Supervisors

This section has been added to the Act. Previously, supervisor duties were either implied or spread throughout many areas of the Act and Regulations.

Employers delegate responsibility for health and safety to their supervisors. Essentially, this makes them liable for carrying out the employer’s duties under the legislation. Therefore, while employers are accountable for the actions of their supervisors, supervisors may be held accountable for their own acts and omissions as well as those of their workers.

Supervisors hold a middle-ground between employers and workers. Supervisors represent the employer, while being role models for the workers.

Supervisors are responsible for themselves and those they supervise to comply with the Act & Regulations.

“In Writing” and “Readily Available”

In many areas, the law has been strengthened by adding in the requirement to have policies and procedures in writing. These written documents in turn must be kept readily available. This means they must be producible by someone on site almost immediately. This adds greater importance to keeping safety records separate from personnel files, and other confidential documents. The safety documents cannot be locked up in someone’s office, unless someone on site has access to the locked office at all times.

One example of where these terms are used is in the requirement to have a written prevention plan in addition to your policy statement about workplace violence. The prevention plan and policy statement must be readily available to all workers (Section 14).

Compliance Undertakings and Contraventions

A “compliance undertaking” is a newly legislated enforcement tool available to occupational health officers. Compliance undertakings are written agreements, stating that the organization (employer, supervisor, or other individual) will take steps to ensure compliance with OH&S legislation within a specified time period.

These agreements will only be issued in circumstances where further measures are not required (such as a contravention, summary offense ticket, or prosecution).
A compliance undertaking does not require a workplace party to agree that they are in contravention with occupational health and safety legislation so long as the party agrees to take action in the manner and within the timeframe directed by the occupational health officer.

Appeals

Section 56 has been amended to clarify that only a “person who is directly affected by a decision” of an adjudicator or special adjudicator may appeal this decision to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.
Amendments have also been made to specify time periods for appeals and to clarify the steps in the appeal process.

For a complete summary and explanation of the amendments made to The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, the Interpretive Guide can be found online.

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