Manitoba's new OHS law comes into force April 1

New protections will soon be in place in Manitoba to increase the safety and health of new workers and those in high-risk occupations, along with stronger penalties for employers who put workers’ safety at risk, said Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun.
“Every worker deserves to come home safe at the end of the day.  Our government is focused on modernizing and strengthening our safety and health laws to protect our most vulnerable workers,” said Braun.  “These amendments will help build a stronger safety culture by providing for stop-work orders and immediate penalties for unsafe workplaces and ensuring that new workers have the information they need to be safe at work, and understand their safety and health rights.”

The new and amended provisions of the act and regulations, which come into effect on April 1, incorporate changes recommended by the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health during the 2012 five-year review of the act.  

They include:
• providing immediate fines for activities presenting an imminent risk to workers or for backsliding to unsafe conditions after complying with an improvement order
• penalizing employers that prevent workers from exercising their legislated safety and health rights
• providing Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health the authority to issue a stop-work order to prevent an employer from engaging in a specific task anywhere in the province if that task may place workers at imminent risk of serious injury or illness  
• clarifying employers’ duties to provide workplace-specific safety and health orientation before a new worker begins work at a workplace or returns to a workplace where the hazards have changed during the worker’s absence under what are now the strongest provincial new-worker orientation provisions in Canada
• outlining the role and scope of Manitoba’s new chief prevention officer position including the requirement for an annual injury and illness report
• clarifying the criteria for granting of an exemption from a regulatory provision or safety and health committee requirement for multiple workplaces.

Under the legislation, employers will be required to ensure that each safety and health representative or safety and health committee member is trained to competently fulfil their duties. Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health will be explicitly required to take into account information provided by affected parties when making a decision with respect to appeals, exemptions and variances.