So this blog is all about a dentist’s obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA“) when it comes to infection prevention and control. In a previous blog, I talked about how infection prevention and control has become more prevalent due to a Burlington dentist being shut down for not properly cleaning instruments before use.
Now, we have previously written about a dentist’s obligations under OHSA. But in this post, I’m going to dig deeper into the legal obligations on EMPLOYERS, SUPERVISORS, and WORKERS under OHSA. And then in the next blog, I’m going to talk about how dentists can get into trouble by not adhering to these laws.
So let’s start off with the penalties, shall we?
Section 66(1) of OHSA says that everyone who fails to comply with OHSA is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of up to $25k and/or 1 year of jail. If a CORPORATION is convicted, it could be fined up to $500k!
An employer is someone who employs one or more WORKERS. And a WORKER is a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation.
If a dentist is an employer, then their obligations include the following (section 25 of the OHSA):
- Creating workplace health and safety policies and procedures and making sure everyone follows them
- Providing appropriate equipment, materials and protective devices that are in good condition and used as prescribed;
- Ensure that OHSA measures and procedures are carried out in the workplace;
- Appoint only competent SUPERVISORS (discussed below) and make sure they know what’s required to protect a worker’s health and safety on the job;
- Making sure WORKERS know about hazards and dangers (when handling, storing, using disposing or transporting equipment or biological, chemical, or physical agents) by providing information, instruction and supervision on how to work safely;
- Doing everything reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from being hurt or getting work-related illness;
- Posting a copy of OHSA and any explanatory material published by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care;
- Where the office has 6 or more WORKERS who are regularly employed there, prepare and review annually a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy;
- Keeping accurate records of the handling, storage, use and disposal of biological, chemical or physical agents and making these records available to WORKERS affected;
- Carrying out such training programs for workers, supervisors and committee members as may be prescribed.
A SUPERVISOR is someone who has charge of a workplace or authority over a WORKER. Section 27 of OHSA says that a person who is a SUPERVISOR of a WORKER (think: principal, associate, hygienist, office manager, etc.) has the following obligations:
- To ensure that a WORKER uses protective devices, measures and procedures required by law and wears such equipment, protective devices or clothing that the EMPLOYER requires to be used or worn;
- To advise a WORKER of the existence of any potential or actual danger to a WORKER’s health or safety (which the SUPERVISOR is aware of);
- To provide a WORKER with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for the protection of the WORKER
- To take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.
A WORKER is a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. Section 28 of OHSA says that a WORKER shall:
- Work in compliance with the law;
- Use or wear equipment, protective devices or clothing that the EMPLOYER requires to be used or worn;
- Report to their EMPLOYER or SUPERVISOR the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device of which the WORKER is aware and which may endanger himself, herself or another worker; and
- Report to their EMPLOYER or SUPERVISOR any contravention of the law or the existence of any hazard of which he or she knows.
Additionally, no WORKER shall:
- Remove or make ineffective any protective device required by the regulations or their EMPLOYER, without providing an adequate temporary protective device and when the need for removing or making ineffective the protective device has ceased, the protective device shall be replaced immediately;
- Use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing or work in a manner that may endanger himself, herself or any other worker; or
- Engage in any prank, contest, feats of strength, unnecessary running or rough and boisterous conduct.