The Ontario government is offering free health and safety training to small businesses.
Over the next three years the province will spend $10.5 million to provide up to 60,000 small businesses with training through the new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program.
The goal is to improve health and safety awareness to help prevent illnesses and injures by training health and safety representatives of small businesses on how to keep workers safe. Businesses will also be reimbursed for the time the representatives are away from work.
“As Ontario reopens, keeping workers safe will continue to be our top priority,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.
“Small businesses have less resources to learn about health and safety than other businesses and we know they are facing a lot of financial pressures as a result of this pandemic. Our government is making sure they have the guidance and support they need.”
The program will cover the course registration costs for an employee who is appointed by their colleagues as a health and safety representative for their workplace. The program will also reimburse small businesses $150 towards the representative’s training time. All small businesses that have six to 19 employees are required to have a health and safety representative and they can apply for this program.
The eLearning training course is offered through Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. The free training takes about six to eight hours for most people to complete, and covers a range of topics, including:
- occupational health and safety laws
- rights, duties and responsibilities of workplace parties
- duties and responsibilities of the health and safety representative under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of common workplace hazards.
To register for the free training, eligible small businesses must access the course through Workplace Safety and Prevention Services’ website. Once training is complete, small business applicants should retain a copy of the certificate of completion as proof for their refund of the $25 registration fee and the $150 toward the cost of worker training time.
Businesses can apply for reimbursement through the Small Business Health and Safety Training Program starting in Fall 2021. More details will be available soon on Workplace Safety and Prevention Services’ website.
Selected by workers, a health and safety representative’s duties include inspecting the workplace on a regular basis, identifying possible hazards, making recommendations for improvements and making health and safety resources available to those in the workplace.
In Ontario, about 130,000 small businesses require a health and safety representative. Workplaces with 20 or more workers are required to have a joint health and safety committee.
This program is funded through the province’s 2021 budget.