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Health and Safety Representative Basic Training Provider Guideline

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

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1. Acknowledgments

The members of the Health and Safety Representative Training Working Group contributed their time and expertise to develop this guideline. The committee included members from the following organizations:

  • Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA)
  • Workplace Safety and Prevention Services  (WSPS)
  • Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC)
  • Workplace Safety North (WSN)
  • Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA)
  • Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW)
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

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2. Introduction

One of the primary purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system (IRS) in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA sets out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties’ compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS in the workplace.

Simply put, the IRS means that everyone in the workplace has a role to play in keeping workplaces safe and healthy. Workers who see a health and safety problem such as a hazard or contravention of the OHSA in the workplace have a statutory duty to report the situation to the employer or a supervisor. Employers and supervisors are, in turn, required to address those situations and acquaint workers with any hazard in the work that they do.

The OHSA requires that in workplaces, including construction projects, at which the number of workers regularly exceeds five and and where no Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is required, employers or constructors must ensure that a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) is selected. The HSR is selected by workers at the workplace who do not exercise managerial functions or by the union where the workplace is unionized. Like JHSC members, the HSR should be committed to improving health and safety conditions in the workplace.

At the present time, the OHSA does not require employers to ensure the HSR receives any specified training. However, the intended outcome is that upon successful completion of a training program that meets this guideline the HSR would have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to fulfill their legislated duties as an HSR per section 8 of the OHSA and be able to support the workplace parties in understanding their roles as part of the IRS in preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. HSR training differs from the occupational health and safety awareness training that employers are required to ensure that all workers have completed under the OHSA (O. Reg. 297/13). It also differs from the general duty that the employer has under clause 25 (2)(d) of the OHSA to acquaint a worker or a person in authority over a worker with any hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any article, device, equipment or a biological, chemical or physical agent. The HSR should receive the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Training prior to the HSR training.

This guideline outlines the recommended criteria that should be met by anyone delivering HSR training. It should be read in conjunction with the HSR Basic Training Program Guideline. Key information about HSR requirements can be found in the OHSA and in the Ministry of Labour’s Guide to Joint Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives in the Workplace.

A printed copy of the guide can be ordered:

  • By visiting ServiceOntario Publications or
  • By phone through the ServiceOntario Contact Centre, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:
    • 416-326-5300
    • 416-325-3408 (TTY)1-800-668-9938 Toll-free across Canada

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3. Purpose

The purpose of this guideline is to provide guidance to training providers for for the delivery of consistent and high quality basic HSR training programs to enable health and safety representatives to perform their legislated duties and responsibilities.

The goal is to:

  1. Ensure HSRs receive high quality and consistent training;
  2. Ensure that upon completion of training, HSRs are adequately prepared to perform their legislated duties and responsibilities and contribute to:
  3. Increase the IRS in the small business workplace; and
  4. Increase OHSA compliance in workplaces with 6-19 workers to:
    1. Reduce the number of injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace; and
    2. Strengthen occupational health and safety culture.

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4. Training provider requirements

This guideline provides best practices for those seeking to deliver HSR training programs.

4.1. Pre-course information

Training providers should advise learners of the following in advance of the course:

  1. The purpose, format and content of the training program, including the type and methods of evaluation and requirements to successfully complete the program;
  2. The process whereby the learner can comment on the training they receive;
  3. All costs involved for successful completion of the course; and
  4. If needed, a list of/or details of the personal protective equipment (PPE) or other equipment to be supplied by the learner.

4.2. Learning needs

To ensure the learning experience meets the specific needs of learners, training providers should:

  1. Oversee the learner registration process; and
  2. Request information about learners’ specific accommodation needs, if any.

4.3. Alternative delivery modes

For delivery modes of eLearning, blended learning and distance learning, the training provider can refer to the Health and Safety Representative Basic Training Program Guideline.  For delivery of programs with eLearning components, the Chief Prevention Officer’s (CPO) eLearning Instruction Design Guidelines can be referred to.

4.4 Program materials

Training providers should ensure all materials used for the training program are:

  1. Legible and of good reproductive quality;
  2. Available in sufficient quantity based on number of learners in attendance (including all learning materials, equipment and learning aids);
  3. Free of bias, including but not limited to gender;
  4. Free of preference, including but not limited to products and equipment;
  5. Compliant with copyright rules;
  6. Appropriate for targeted learner language and literacy level; and
  7. Compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and its regulations, as required.

4.5. Learning environment

To support the transfer of knowledge, training providers should ensure a safe, healthy and accessible learning environment regardless of location, when delivering face-to-face training.

4.6. Proof of training completion

Upon successful completion of an HSR Training Program, training providers should provide learners with a record of successful completion of the training program that includes the following information:

  1. Learner’s name;
  2. Name of training provider;
  3. Name of the training program;
  4. Program delivery date and date of successful completion; and
  5. Statement that the learner has successfully achieved the learning outcomes of the training program.

It is recommended that a record of completion of an HSR training program be kept by the learner and a copy of the record be kept by the employer.

4.7. Support transfer of knowledge

Training providers should support the transfer of knowledge by evaluating the learner’s successful achievement of learning outcomes in the training program.

The training provider should ensure that:

  1. The methods of evaluation are clearly communicated so learners understand the performance expectations and how they may be assessed;
  2. The evaluation activities are bias-free, valid, reliable and lead to appropriate decisions regarding the learner’s achievement of learning outcomes;
  3. Learners have the opportunity to receive real-time feedback on their ongoing progress and evaluation results;
  4. The instructor or the evaluator has an opportunity to review program content with learners who are struggling to meet learning objectives; and Evaluation activities meet learners’ language, literacy and accommodation needs.

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5. Instructor requirements

Training providers should ensure that their instructors meet the criteria set out in this Guideline.

5.1. Instructor qualifications

Instructors should have the following qualifications:

  1. Technical occupational health and safety knowledge and experience in the  training program topic(s);
  2. A combination of adult education delivery experience and knowledge of adult education principles;
  3. Knowledge of the training program material; and
  4. Knowledge about the OHSA and regulations, particularly the duties and responsibilities of the HSR under the OHSA.

In addition, for programs delivered via eLearning, blended learning or distance learning, training providers should ensure that they will be delivered by instructors with experience delivering through this mode of training and who are proficient in the use of the software, platform or other information technology that is to be used.

5.2. Instructor delivery expectations

Delivery expectations are the same for all modes of instruction, including face-to-face training, blended learning, eLearning and distance learning.
Effective instructors create positive learning environments, engage learners and assess the achievement of learning outcomes.

5.2.1. Create positive and safe learning environments

Training providers should ensure that the instructor delivering the training program:

  1. Is knowledgeable about the content of the training program;
  2. Adheres to the instructional design of the training program;
  3. Communicates expected learning outcomes of the training program;
  4. Models positive attitudes towards learning;
  5. Creates a safe and positive learning environment;
  6. Asks learners for feedback;
  7. Employs a variety of instructional techniques that are appropriate to the needs and learning styles of learners;
  8. If applicable, uses personal protective equipment (PPE) or other equipment safely, and in accordance with legislative requirements.;
  9. Models respectful and professional behaviour; and
  10. Resolves and addresses any learner’s inappropriate behaviours promptly and respectfully.

5.2.2. Engage learners

Training providers should ensure that the instructor delivering the training program:

  1. Links course content and learning activities with learners’ knowledge and experience;
  2. Links program content with learners’ workplace;
  3. Asks a combination of open-ended and close-ended questions;
  4. Employs a variety of clarification and feedback strategies; and
  5. Encourages group discussion.

5.2.3. Assess learning and performance

Training providers should ensure that the instructor delivering the training program:

  1. Communicates learning evaluation criteria;
  2. Uses evaluation methods that are appropriate to learner’s language, literacy and accommodation needs;
  3. Monitors and evaluates individual and group performance throughout the program delivery;
  4. Assesses achievement of learning outcomes in accordance with the HSR Basic Training Program Guideline; and
  5. Reviews incorrect answers or assessments with the learners.

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6. Evaluator requirements

Suggested evaluator criteria are set below. An instructor may also be the evaluator.

Training providers should ensure the evaluator:

  1. Has knowledge of:
    1. The OHSA and its regulations;
    2. Rights, duties, responsibilities and functions of the HSR in the workplace; and
    3. Hazard recognition, assessment, control and evaluation (RACE methodology).
  2. Works under the direction of the training provider and is either the instructor or a subject matter expert;
  3. Uses evaluation methods that are appropriate to learners’ language, literacy and accommodation needs;
  4. Assesses achievement of a training program’s learning outcomes  in accordance with the HSR Basic Training Program Guideline;
  5. Reviews incorrect answers or practices with the learners; and
  6. Does not tell, prompt, hint or help learners except for reasons of accommodation (such assistance should be directly requested by the learner).

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7. Appendix A: Glossary of terms – general

Blended learning
Describes the practice of using several training delivery methods in one curriculum. It typically refers to the combination of classroom instruction and any type of training that includes self-directed use of online capabilities (American Society of Training and Development [ASTD] definition).
Distance learning
An educational situation in which the instructor and learners are separated by location. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or real-time instruction.
eLearning (electronic learning)
A term covering a wide set of applications and processes such as web-based learning and computer-based learning.
Evaluator
A person who evaluates learners.
Face-to-face training
Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training, classroom training and instructor-led training (slightly modified from ASTD definition).
Instructor
A person who delivers training programs.
Training provider
An individual, sole proprietor, corporation or not-for-profit organization delivering training.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.