Duties of Employers

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Duties of Employers

Everyone shares the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. Under the Prince Edward Island Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, employers have the primary responsibility for the health and safety of all those at or near the workplace.

Employer Duties

Employers are responsible for:

  • Taking all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers and others who may be at or near their workplace.
  • Making sure that workers, particularly supervisors, are familiar with workplace hazards and the procedures to minimize risks.
  • Ensuring their business does not expose workers to health or safety hazards.
  • Complying with all relevant OHS Acts and regulations and making sure workers comply while at work.
  • Providing equipment, machines, and materials that are safe to use and be around, including making sure all safety features or devices are used as recommended by the manufacturer or additional to OHS Regulations. As well, maintain all equipment, machines, and materials so that they do not become hazardous.
  • Providing any training or supervision necessary to maintain a safe workplace.
  • Making sure all workers are competent and able to properly use any provided safety devices and their personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment must fit properly to be fully effective.
  • Posting in a prominent place that all workers can see a copy of the OSH Act and the regulations, and any notices and reports that are required.

Program

Employers, constructors, or contractors who have 20 or more workers that are regularly employed must establish a written OHS program. The program must be reviewed annually. The employer is required to make a copy of the program available to the Joint Occupational Safety and Health (JOSH) Committee and workers at the workplace.

Policy

Employers, constructors, or contractors who have five or more regularly employed workers must establish a written OHS policy. The policy must be written in consultation with the JOSH Committee or representative, if there is one. Employers in workplaces without a JOSH Committee or representative must consult employees directly regarding the proposed OHS policy.

The OHS policy must express the organization's commitment to occupational health and safety by including a commitment to pursue occupational health and safety in cooperation with employees, and a statement about the responsibilities for employer, supervisors and employees in fulfilling their commitment to health and safety at work.

Occupational Health and Safety Representative

Workplaces that have at least five workers regularly employed at a workplace, must have an OHS representative. The workers are responsible for selecting a representative who does not perform managerial functions. Constructors on a project that have at least five workers must have an OHS representative, selected by the workers, for the duration of the project.

Further details about the OHS Representative are available here.

Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committee and OHS Representative

Employers must cooperate and consult with the Joint Health and Safety (JOSH) committee or safety representative, where the workplace has one. When required by the regulations, the employer must provide additional training for committee members.

Further details about the JOSH committee or representative are available here.

Toxic Substances

Employers must prepare a list of all biological, chemical or physical agents that are used, handled, produced or present in the workplace. Agents are to be identified by their common or generic name when known), and must be included on this list if they are hazardous, or suspected of being hazardous, by the workers.

Reporting of Accidents

Employers must make sure a written notice is sent, by the fastest way available, to the Director within 24 hours of certain accidents. Accidents that must be reported include when a worker:

  • is seriously injured, including death (or may cause the worker's death);
  • suffers the loss of a limb (e.g., paralysis), unconsciousness, substantial loss of blood, or fracture;
  • suffers the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot;
  • suffers a burn to a major portion of their body; and
  • loss of sight in an eye.

The employer must also notify the JOSH Committee or representative, where they exist, of these accidents.

Employers must also report accidental explosions to the Director, whether or not a person has been injured.

Smoke-Free Places

In PEI, it is against the law to smoke in a public place or workplace (e.g., tobacco products or electronic (vapour) smoking devices). This ban includes hospitals, school grounds, community or church halls, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, movie theatres, rinks, office buildings, and private clubs (such as a service club or legion) and any private functions held in a public space. Smoking is also not allowed in a vehicle if a child under 19 years is present, even if a window, door, sunroof or roof is open.

A designated smoking area is allowed if a child-care centre, school or hospital is not part of the establishment. The designated outdoor smoking area must be 4.5 meters (15 feet) from any entrance or any outdoor air intake. Patios may be designated as a smoking area, but only between the hours of 10:00pm to 3:00am. A sign must be posted to show this designation and state the hours. Signs can be requested at any Access PEI site or by downloading.

Employers (and owner/operators) must inform workers and customers of the legislative requirements, and work in compliance with the laws.

  • Post a sign at each entrance warning that smoking (tobacco products and electronic smoking devices) are not allowed.
  • If someone is smoking, ask them to not smoke in smoke-free areas.
  • Educate workers about the requirements, including what to say to customers. Act as you would if someone was disturbing your other customers by a different means.
  • If customers continue to smoke after they have been requested to stop, you may choose to discontinue service or ask that they leave.

Employment of Youth

Under the Youth Employment Act, a young person is defined as a person under the age of sixteen years. Employers will not employ a young person in a job that is, or may likely be, harmful to the young person's health or safety, or moral or physical development.

Employers may not hire any young person

  • in construction;
  • between the hours of 11pm and 7am;
  • during normal school hours (except when taking a recognized vocational training or apprenticeship program); and
  • for more than 3 hours a day on any school day, 8 hours a day if not a school day, or more than 40 hours a week.

The Director or OHS officer may not allow the employment of a young person in a facility that has toxic substances, machinery or equipment that is potentially dangerous, or in a plant that processes fish, agricultural products, or forest products.

When employing a young person, the employer must

  • act reasonably when assigning duties, and take into account the young person's age, knowledge, education and work experience;
  • identify any potential danger and provide this instruction to the young person;
  • personally supervise the work of a young person, or make sure that at all times, the young person is supervised by an adult who has related work experience; and
  • provide training and instruction before allowing the young person to perform unsupervised work.
In general terms, “reasonable precautions” refers to the care, caution, or action a reasonable person is expected to take under similar circumstances.
Public places are defined in the Smoke-Free Places Act as: (l) "public place" means (i) a place that is open to members of the public, and includes (A) the part of an office building, a retail store or other commercial establishment that is open to members of the public, (B) the part of a building in which health services are provided and that is open to patients or members of the public, (C) the part of a early learning and child care centre that is open to children or members of the public, (D) the part of an educational institution or educational facility that is open to students or members of the public, (E) the part of an eating establishment that is open to members of the public, whether or not the eating establishment is a licensed premises, (F) the part of a licensed premises that is open to members of the public, whether or not the licensed premises is an eating establishment or part of an eating establishment, (G) a vehicle or the enclosed areas of a vessel, where the vehicle or vessel is designed or used for carrying passengers for compensation, (ii) any part of a long-term care facility, or (iii) any other place designated in the regulations as a public place;
Electronic smoking devices are defined in the Smoke-Free Places Act as: "electronic smoking device" means an electronic or battery- operated device used or intended to be used to deliver vapourized solutions by inhalation from the device in a manner that resembles smoking tobacco, such as an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe or electronic waterpipe.
NOTE: Exemptions to working hours maybe allowed by an inspector if he is satisfied that the employment will not impact the attendance at school or their learning while at school, and if it has been consented to, in writing, by the parent or guardian.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. O-1.01

Section 12 Duties of employers

12. (1) An employer shall ensure

(a) that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect the occupational health and safety of persons at or near the workplace;

(b) that any item, device, material, equipment or machinery provided for the use of workers at a workplace is properly maintained, and is properly equipped with the safety features or devices, as recommended by the manufacturer or required by the regulations;

(c) that such information, instruction, training, supervision and facilities are provided as are necessary to ensure the occupational health and safety of the workers;

(d) that workers and supervisors are familiar with occupational health or safety hazards at the workplace;

(e) that workers are made familiar with the proper use of all safety features or devices, equipment and clothing required for their protection; and

(f) that the employer's undertaking is conducted so that workers are not exposed to occupational health or safety hazards as a result of the undertaking.

(2) An employer shall

(a) consult and cooperate with the joint occupational health and safety committee or the representative, as applicable;

(b) cooperate with any person performing a duty or exercising a power conferred by this Act or the regulations;

(c) provide such additional training of committee members as may be prescribed by the regulations;

(d) comply with this Act and the regulations and ensure that workers at the workplace comply with this Act and the regulations; and

(e) where an occupational health and safety policy or occupational health and safety program is required under this Act, establish the policy or program.

(3) An employer shall establish and implement as a policy, in accordance with the regulations, measures to prevent and investigate occurrences of harassment in the workplace.

[S.P.E.I. 2018, c. 45, s. 3]

Section 23 Occupational health and safety program

23. (1) Where 20 or more workers are regularly employed

(a) by an employer other than a constructor or contractor; or

(b) directly by a constructor or contractor,

the employer, constructor or contractor shall establish, and review at least annually, a written occupational health and safety program, in consultation with the committee or representative, if any.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a worker is not regularly employed directly by a constructor or contractor if the worker works with the constructor or contractor as an independent contractor.

(3) An occupational health and safety program shall include

(a) provisions for the training and supervision of workers in matters necessary to their occupational health and safety and the occupational health and safety of other persons at or near the workplace;

(b) provisions for

(i) the preparation of written work procedures for the implementation of occupational health and safety work practices, required by this Act, the regulations or by order of an officer, and

(ii) the identification of the types of work for which the procedures are required at the employer's workplace;

(c) provisions for the establishment and continued operation of a committee required by this Act, including maintenance of records of membership, rules of procedure, access to a level of management with authority to resolve occupational health and safety matters, and information required by this Act or the regulations;

(d) provisions for the selection and functions of a representative where required by this Act, including provision for access by the representative to a level of management with authority to resolve occupational health and safety matters;

(e) a hazard identification system that includes

(i) evaluation of the workplace to identify potential hazards,

(ii) procedures and schedules for regular inspections,

(iii) procedures for ensuring the reporting of hazards and the accountability of persons responsible for the correction of hazards, and

(iv) identification of the circumstances where hazards shall be reported by the employer to the committee or representative, if any, and the procedures for doing so;

(f) a system for workplace occupational health and safety monitoring, prompt follow-up and control of identified hazards;

(g) a system for the prompt investigation of hazardous occurrences to determine their causes and the actions needed to prevent recurrences;

(h) the maintenance of records and statistics, including reports of occupational health and safety inspections and investigations, with provision for making the reports available to persons entitled to receive them under this Act; and

(i) provisions for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the program.

(4) The employer shall make a copy of the program established under this section available

(a) to the committee or representative, if any; and

(b) on request, to a worker at the workplace.

(5) The results of a workplace harassment investigation do not constitute a report for the purposes of clause (3)(h).

[S.P.E.I. 2018, c. 45, s. 5]

Section 24 Occupational health and safety policy

24. (1) Where five or more workers are regularly employed

(a) by an employer other than a constructor or contractor; or

(b) directly by a constructor or contractor,

the employer, constructor or contractor shall establish, and review at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, in consultation with the committee or representative, if any.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a worker is not regularly employed directly by a constructor or contractor if the worker works with the constructor or contractor as an independent contractor.

(3) Where this Act does not require a committee or a representative, an employer shall consult the workers regarding the proposed policy.

(4) An occupational health and safety policy shall express the commitment of the employer to occupational health and safety including

(a) the commitment of the employer to cooperate with the workers in pursuing occupational health and safety; and

(b) a statement of the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and other workers in fulfilling the commitment.

Section 26 Occupational health and safety representative

26. (1) Where the number of workers employed at a workplace is five or more but no committee is required under section 25, the employer shall require the workers to select at least one representative from among the workers who do not perform managerial functions.

(2) Where the number of workers at a project is five or more but no committee is required under section 25, the constructor shall require the workers to select at least one representative from among the workers who do not perform managerial functions.

(3) Where the number of workers at a workplace is fewer than five, the Director may

(a) consult with the workers and the employer at the workplace regarding whether a representative should be selected at the workplace; and

(b) order that the workers select a representative if the Director considers that a representative is necessary to ensure that occupational health and safety issues in the workplace are monitored.

(4) A worker who is a representative is entitled to take the necessary time off from work to attend meetings of the committee, to take training prescribed by the regulations and to carry out the worker's functions as a representative.

(5) The time off from work referred to in subsection (4) shall be deemed to be work time for which the worker is entitled to the worker's usual salary and benefits, without change.

(6) A representative shall be involved on behalf of the workers, together with the employer, in occupational health and safety issues in the workplace and shall

(a) cooperate to identify hazards to occupational health and safety in the workplace and effective systems to respond to the hazards;

(b) receive, investigate and promptly deal with issues respecting occupational health and safety , other than a complaint of workplace harassment;

(c) participate in inspections, inquiries and investigations respecting the occupational health and safety of workers in the workplace , other than an investigation of a complaint of workplace harassment;

(d) advise the employer on individual protective equipment, devices and safety features that are best suited to the needs of the workers, within the provisions of this Act and the regulations;

(e) advise the employer regarding a policy or program required by this Act; and

(f) make recommendations to the employer, the workers and any other persons for the improvement of the occupational health and safety of persons at the workplace.

[S.P.E.I. 2018, c. 45, s. 7]

Section 32 Chemicals, etc. to be listed

32. (1) An employer at a workplace shall prepare a list of all biological, chemical or physical agents used, handled, produced or otherwise present at the workplace that may be hazardous to the occupational health or safety of workers or are suspected by the workers of being hazardous and the list shall identify all such agents by their common or generic names, where they are known to the employer.

(2) For every biological, chemical or physical agent required to be listed under subsection (1), the employer shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain from suppliers or otherwise and to record the following information on every agent:

(a) the ingredients and their common or generic names;

(b) the composition and the properties;

(c) the toxicological effects;

(d) the effects of exposure, whether by contact, inhalation or ingestion;

(e) the protective measures used or to be used in respect of the agent;

(f) the emergency measures used or to be used to deal with exposure to the agent;

(g) the information on the use, transport, storage and disposal of the agent.

(3) The employer shall ensure that the list referred to in subsection (2) is kept current and the employer shall provide a copy of the current list

(a) to the committee, where one exists, or to the representative, if any; and

(b) on request, to an officer or a worker.

(4) Where the employer is unable to ascertain the ingredients or composition of a biological, chemical or physical agent listed in this section, the employer shall promptly provide the officer with the trade name, and the name and address of the manufacturer of the agent.

Section 36 Reporting of accidents

36. (1) Where an accident occurs in the workplace in which a worker is seriously injured in a manner which causes or may cause a fatality, suffers a loss of limb, unconsciousness, substantial loss of blood, a fracture, an amputation of a leg, arm, hand, or foot, a burn to a major portion of the body, or the loss of sight in an eye, the employer shall ensure that written notice is sent, by the fastest means available, to the Director within 24 hours of the accident.

(2) Where an accident is reported under subsection (1), the employer shall notify the committee, where one exists, or the representative, if any.

(3) Except as otherwise directed by an officer, no person shall disturb the scene of an accident that results in a serious injury or a fatality except to the extent that it is necessary

(a) to attend to persons injured or killed;

(b) to prevent further injuries; or

(c) to protect property that is endangered as a result of the accident.

Section 37 Accidental explosions

37. An employer shall, whether or not a person has been injured, provide the Director with a written report of all accidental explosions.

Section 45 Posting written materials

45. An owner, employer or a constructor shall keep in a prominent place accessible to the workers

(a) a copy of this Act and the regulations; and

(b) such notices and reports as are required by this Act and the regulations to be posted.

SMOKE-FREE PLACES ACT
R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. S-4.2

SMOKING RESTRICTIONS

Section 4 Prohibition respecting smoking

4. (1) No person shall smoke in a public place or workplace except as permitted by this Act and the regulations.

(2) No person shall smoke in a motor vehicle while any person under the age of nineteen years is present in the motor vehicle regardless of whether any window, sunroof, car-top roof, door or other feature of the motor vehicle is open.

[S.P.E.I. 2009, c. 86, s. 2]

5. Repealed. [S.P.E.I. 2009, c. 86, s. 3]

DESIGNATED SMOKING AREAS

Section 8 Designated smoking area

8. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an owner of a public place or workplace or an employer at a workplace may, in accordance with the regulations, designate an outdoor area of the public place or workplace as a designated smoking area for those persons who are permitted to use the area by the owner or employer, if

(a) the outdoor area is located a prescribed minimum distance from any entrance to or outdoor air intake for the indoor non-smoking areas of the public place or workplace; and

(b) the indoor non-smoking areas of the public place or workplace are structurally separated from the outdoor area by walls, ceilings, windows and doors that fully enclose the indoor non-smoking areas.

(2) An outdoor area in the following public places or workplaces may not be designated as a designated smoking area under subsection (1):

(a) the portion of a public place or workplace that is used as a day care centre, nursery school or kindergarten;

(b) an elementary, intermediate or secondary school;

(c) a hospital;

(d) a patio, except during the hours prescribed in the regulations.

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), an outdoor area at Hillsborough Hospital may be designated as a designated smoking area under subsection (1) for the patients of Hillsborough Hospital.

(4) Notwithstanding section 6, where an outdoor area at Hillsborough Hospital is designated as a designated smoking area under subsection (1) for the patients of Hillsborough Hospital, no person may smoke in the designated smoking area other than a patient of Hillsborough Hospital.

[S.P.E.I. 2003, c. 44, s. 3; 2009, c. 86, s. 4]

SIGNS

Section 12 Signs required

12. The owner of a public place or workplace or the employer at a workplace shall, in accordance with the regulations, post and keep posted at the public place or workplace those signs respecting smoking in a public place or workplace that may be required by the regulations, including

(a) signs that indicate smoking is not permitted on the premises;

(b) signs that indicate smoking is not permitted outside of a designated smoking area; and

(c) signs that identify designated smoking areas.

[S.P.E.I. 2003, c. 44, s. 6]