protective equipment cost

Who Should Pay for Personal Protective Equipment?

Is the employer or the worker responsible for paying for Personal Protective Equipment?

Unfortunately the OHS law in Ontario is not clear on who should pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

OHS law requires the employer to ensure workers wear and use PPE. In some circumstances, the law and OHS regulations requires the employer to provide PPE. The OHS law does not make reference to the responsibility for payment.

For an employer who wants control over the safety standard of equipment being used in their workplace, it makes sense to cover the cost of most PPE. 

In some industries such as construction and trades, workers tend to supply their own tools, equipment and PPE. In a small company, workers may be required to purchase their own protective equipment, either directly from the employer or from a list of suppliers. Large companies and unionized workplaces often specify which PPE will be supplied by the employer and which PPE must be supplied by the worker. For expensive and specialized protective equipment the employer typically covers the cost.

Protective Equipment Cost Practices

  • Workers are usually responsible for the cost of safety footwear and clothing. 
  • Employers typically cover the cost of other PPE required in their workplace. 


Health & Safety Change Management Butterfly

Health & Safety Change Management Strategies

Managers should use health & safety change management strategies and tools to implement new safety practices in organizations.

Improving safety programs involves changing how things are done in the workplace. Health & Safety change management is required during safety program improvements. A great new workplace safety idea can fail because of poor leadership during implementation of the new process. Executives and managers must identify and manage how the changes caused by a new safety ideas affect their organization’s stakeholders and business systems.

A well-designed implementation plan for a new safety procedure includes identifying, in advance, how it will affect the business’ processes and people. Risk and hazard analysis is helpful. Then, a plan can be developed to prevent potential problems. Tools, like the University of Windsor’s Management of Change Form , are useful to help identify issues that may undermine the implementation of a new procedure.

Since safety improvements involve asking individual to do their jobs differently, employees are greatly affected by these types of changes. Others who interact with the organization, such as customers, suppliers and the public, may also require assistance coping with new business procedures. If people do not understand why change is required, this can cause problems incorporating the new idea into practice in a workplace. Even if  supported by everyone, it can still can  be difficult for people to adopt new ideas.

Health & Safety change management involves planning for changes and then supporting individuals as they learn, problem-solve, adjust and accept new realities. Change can cause employees distress related to learning new tasks and adjusting to alterations to jobs and personal routines. Employees who are support by managers find it easier to adopt new procedures. Unsupported workers can become stressed or confused and negative outcomes, such as poor employee morale or safety incidents, can occur.

Identifying risks and planning health & safety change management strategies does not  guarantee smooth transitions to new business procedures.  Not all problems can be prevented. During times of change, managers must show strong leadership and guide their teams through the changes required to achieve safety program improvements.

How to manage workplace harassment.

How to Manage Workplace Harassment

Being harassed at work is unacceptable and employers are legally required to protect their employees and manage workplace harassment.

Demeaning jokes or suggestions, bullying, sexual innuendo or intimidating actions, whether spoken, gestured, printed or digitally circulated are all unacceptable behaviours in workplaces. In Canada, laws require employers to manage workplace harassment.

What is workplace harassment? Workplace harassment is unwelcome words or action towards an employee that are offensive, embarrassing, humiliating or demeaning. Harassment may intimidate, isolate or discriminate against the individual. Harassment is different from behaviour that is reasonably expected in a workplace as a part of operating a business.

How can workplace harassment be prevented? Workplace harassment causes employee stress and interferes with worker productivity. A simple prevention strategy is to develop a workplace harassment policy and prevention program and to enforce it. Training about the policy shows that the employer truly believes in protecting its workers and treating them respectfully.  

Who gets harassed at work? Anyone can be harassed in a workplace. Employees, managers, visitors, customers and even owners may be victimized by workplace harassment.

Who are the harassers? Bosses, co-workers, clients, suppliers and even family or friends may be sources of harassment. If someone targets an individual in a workplace with unwelcome words or actions, whether intentional or unintentional, then they are a harasser.

What should an employee do if they are being harassed? If an employee is harassed or observes another person being harassed at work, they should report this to a senior manager immediately. Employees need to know that harassment reports will be taken seriously.

How should employers manage workplace harassment? Supervisors must take immediate steps to stop and manage workplace harassment incidents. When harassment is reported, interventions should include supporting the victim, confronting the harasser and preventing further harassment. Managers must be tactful and maintain confidentiality. The incident investigation and discipline details should be documented for future reference.

A zero-tolerance policy that is actively supported by senior management and supervisors will help develop harassment free workplaces. Employers striving to prevent and manage workplace harassment will empower employees to report harassment and supervisors to enforce company policy and stopping this type of behaviour in the workplace.

Read more about Ontario’s Workplace Harassment Legislation.

Read health & safety good news

Ontario Health & Safety Good News 

Health & safety good news was reported in the recent Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario: 2015-16 Annual Report. 

Fewer injury claims, critical injuries and fatalities were reported in Ontario workplaces in 2015-16. This definitely is health & safety good news! With recent  news stories involving serious employer penalties and worker injuries, it is nice to hear that overall workplace health & safety trends in Ontario are moving in a positive direction. 

The report summarizes Ontario’s OHS strategy. It is a multi-sectorial approach involving the general public and employers, educators, researchers and safety specialists in both private and public sectors. Areas of focus include increasing public knowledge and changing attitudes and behaviour about safety at work. Workplace practices that put employees at risk are being challenged. Workers are understanding that they have the right to be safe while working and employers are doing more to keep employees out of harms way. 

Ontario’s OHS initiatives include new legislation, worker training requirements, enforcement activities and mass media workplace safety marketing . The end result is the health & safety good news of fewer workers getting hurt. Continued improvement will requires creativity, effort and commitment to change from all workplace parties.

These changes may not feel like health & safety good news for business owners and employers. Implementing health and safety and staying compliant with requirements is hard work for employers.  The best approach is to be positive, creative and to spend time learning about why improving workplace safety benefits businesses and their workers. 

Read more about the Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario: 2015-16 Annual Report.

Employers must manage thee risks related to safety sensitive work.

Safety Sensitive Work – Management Considerations

If a worker makes mistakes when performing safety sensitive work, people can get hurt.

Safety sensitive work is tasks or procedures that are part of a job which can cause harm to people if done incorrectly. Many businesses provide specialized services that require their employees to perform tasks that can put the worker, co-workers, customers or the general public at risk of being harmed. Employees performing safety-sensitive work must follow specific work procedures to keep themselves and the people around them safe.

Safety sensitive jobs can be found in many workplaces.  High risk work tasks  include working with dangerous machinery or chemicals at industrial worksites or being exposed to infectious disease or violent situations in a social or health services work environment.  Examples of positions that involve safety sensitive work include drivers, machine operators, health care workers, police officers, and industrial labourers.

A key management responsibility is to carefully plan the work procedures and train and supervise staff. The Plan-Do-Check-Act method is a simple way to approach and maintain high quality safety sensitive work procedures.

Plan – Employers should review the work procedure, planning so the work is designed to have safe outcomes.

Do – The next step involves employee training.  Workers and supervisors must understand the hazards, risks and know how to correctly do the work.

Check – Supervisors must monitor employees performing the work to confirm that it is done correctly.

Act – Retraining, re-design of work procedures and possibly re-assignment of employees not capable of safely performing the work are potential outcomes of supervision activities.

Many factors lead to safety sensitive work incidents such as poor work design, poor supervision or employees unable to competently complete the work. It is important to remember that previously safe work methods may change and become unsafe. If equipment degrades, it can cause safety incidents.  The skills of individuals previously capable of doing the work may change.   Personal or health issues including illness or alcohol or drug use are common reasons why an employee’s may be unable to competently perform their job.

It is a manager’s responsibility to identify and correct situations where work is being performed dangerously.  Since safety sensitive work can cause major injuries including fatalities, it is a good management practice to focus supervision efforts on these high risk work procedures.

To read more about this topic, consider this list of safety sensitive occupations.

Employer fines and punishment

Employer Fines and Penalties in the News

It is common these days to hear news stories about employer fines and penalties for breaches in workplace safety, employment, or human rights laws.

This increase in penalties, including large monetary punishments and jail time,  coincides with a recent rise in enforcement activity by government auditors and inspectors and unsympathetic rulings by judges against employers and their supervisors.  Employers are on high alert as the Canadian justice system and other judicial bodies, such as human rights or workplace safety tribunals, set precedents in fines amounts and jail time. This enforcement activity likely relates to research evidence suggesting that imposing employer fines and penalties reduces illegal business practices and the number workplace incidents and claims.

Here are a few recent, notable examples of convictions and fines to Ontario businesses, employers and supervisors.

  • Zochem, a company in Brampton, Ontario, was ordered to pay a former employee 10 months’ pay and pension earnings in lieu of notice plus $85,000 in moral and human rights damages related to harassment and intimidation in the workplace and a bad faith dismissal.
  • In R. v. Roofing Medics Ltd. a supervisor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the use of fall protection equipment and knowingly providing false information to a Ministry of Labour inspector. The supervisor received a 15-day jail sentence, including 10 days for the fall protection violation and 5 days for providing false information. 
  • A company that provided security services for Oshawa City Hall was fined $70,000 for failing to comply with orders to develop workplace and violence prevention programs for its workers.
  • A Trenton business man was fined $1000 for not complying with a ministry order related to his business activities.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Labour regularly inspects workplaces and fines employers and supervisors for breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Gone are the days that employers can casually ignore employment laws, be unfair to employees or allow workers to perform unsafe work. There is currently a high degree of public awareness about workplace rights and responsibilities. This forces employers to be accountable for their employment practices and to design their business operations to consider Health & Safety, Human Rights and Employment laws. Illegal or immoral business practices lead to grave consequences for businesses including severe employer fines and penalties.

Read more about Ontario employer fines and penalties on the Ontario government website.