Who is Responsible for Workplace Health and Safety?

The Importance of Workplace Health & Safety

May 6 marks the beginning of Safety and Health Week in Canada. Employers of all sizes should use this week as a reminder conduct a review of their health and safety policies and procedures and ensure that they are meeting all requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulations.

Although one might think that workplace accidents and incidents won’t happen in their workplace, failure to comply with health and safety legislation can be catastrophic.

In January 2022, six employees lost their lives from what CBC news reported as one of the deadliest workplace incidences in Ottawa. The disaster was determined to be a direct result of the company neglecting to provide information, instruction, and supervision to its employees on safe handling procedures. After pleading guilty this year, the company and its owner were ordered to pay a sum of $850,000, which included a 25% victim surcharge. This is the highest corporate fine ever issued against a company of its size. The social, personal, and financial impact of the incident is a tragic reminder to all business owners of the importance of following health and safety legislation and regulations.

Additionally, in October 2023, the maximum corporate fine for a single OHSA violation increased from $1.5 million to $2 million, making it the highest financial penalty in Canada for a single offense.

Who is responsible for workplace Health and Safety?

Everyone in the workplace has a duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the workplace. In Ontario, the OHSA sets out the duties of all workplace parties and helps employers to establish a strong internal responsibility system (IRS) in the workplace.

Employers hold the greatest responsibility. They must provide a safe and well-maintained working environment by taking all reasonable precautions from a health and safety standpoint. This includes providing employees with information, training, procedures, and supervision of any hazards specific to your workplace.

Employers with 6 to 20 employees must also appoint a Health and Safety Representative, or for 20 or more employees, a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). These individuals act as health and safety advisors for employees in the workplace. Click here to review all employer duties outlined by the Act.

For employees, it is the duty of all workers to report any risk or health and safety hazards to their employer or supervisor. They are also required to follow all the procedures set by the employer and to refrain from engaging in any behaviour that could endanger others in the workplace. Click here to review all duties of workers outlined by the Act.

It is critical for all employers to keep health and safety standards integrated in all aspects of their business. It is the collective responsibility of the employer, the supervisors, and the workers to play their part in maintaining the health and safety of the workplace.

Integrating Workplace Health and Safety Standards

Are you an employer concerned about Health and Safety compliance for your business? Check out our library of E-Learning programs, designed for all participants in your workplace.

At HR Performance & Results, it is our goal to partner with our clients to create a healthy and safe organization by developing integrated systems and facilitating a process to integrate health and safety into all aspects of your business.  Click here to learn more and contact us today.


  1. Safety and Health Week. CCOHS.ca (2024)
  2. Eastway Tank, owner plead guilty in workplace blast that killed 6. CBC.ca (April 5, 2024)
  3. Guide for Health and Safety Committees and Representatives. Ontario.ca. (2024)
  4. Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act: Duties of employers and other persons. Ontario.ca.