For many business owners, occupational health and safety requirements are an important aspect of your day-to-day operations, but they are too often misunderstood. Trying to navigate all the rules and regulations of workplace health and safety can seem daunting, expensive, and time-consuming, but it doesn’t need to be.

OHS Compliance by province/territories

In Canada, OHS laws and standards are set by the federal government for federally-regulated employers, and by each province or territory for the non-federally regulated employers in that jurisdiction. While the laws across the country have many things in common, there are enough differences to make compliance -- especially if you have locations in multiple jurisdictions -- challenging.

There are thirteen jurisdictions in Canada – the provinces and territories, plus some industries that are federally regulated -- each having its own occupational health and safety legislation, outlining the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker.

The cost of non-compliance

Employers generally must ensure the workplace and equipment are safe and the health and safety policies and procedures are being followed. OHS officers across jurisdictions can conduct inspections to determine if workplaces comply with the required health and safety regulations. 

Non-compliance means that a business is not following the guidelines, rules and regulations set out by the jurisdiction. Fines and convictions for an offence under the OHS Act vary across the country, and if you fail to comply with the rules that apply to your business, it could cost you!

CFIB’s Business Counsellors can help you navigate through all the rules and regulations, so please ensure you are taking steps to address your legislative requirements.

A service centre technician shows a customer what he found during a safety inspection of her vehicle.

Tips and Tricks: 5 easy ways to improve occupational health and safety in your small business!

1. Demonstrate your commitment to safety

You and your management team can show you’re committed to workplace safety by:

  • Creating a health and safety policy for the business
  • Demonstrating examples of safe and unsafe practices
  • Participating in workplace safety discussions with staff
  • Completing regular internal inspections 
  • Providing resources for staff on workplace safety

2. Identify and manage your risks

Identify Risks:

  • Biohazardous (ex. viruses)
  • Chemical (ex. gases) 
  • Mechanical (ex. machines) 
  • Ergonomic (ex. work posture) 
  • Psychological (ex. difficult customers) 
  • Physical (ex. noise)

Manage Risks: 

  • Ensure staff have proper protective equipment 
  • Conduct inspections and maintenance
  • Provide training
  • Put up informational posters
  • Install security devices 
  • Implement safer work processes 

3. Train your employees

  • Analyze your needs and the needs of your employees
  • Establish your priorities 
  • Find training for staff 
    • CCOHS
    • Legislated training
    • CFIB
    • Worker compensation boards
    • Consultants, etc.
  • Organize training 
    • Vubiz offers a series of online Health & Safety courses – free for CFIB members! 
    • Log the information

4. Investigate accidents and develop plans to reduce future risks

  • Collect all the facts 
  • Ask the right questions : Who, What, Where, When, Why and How (and document answers in writing)
  • Investigate 
  • Develop plans to reduce future risk 

5. Measure your performance

  • Measure your preventive actions
    • How many OHS discussions does your business hold in a year?
    • What actions have you taken during the year to improve safety?
    • How many inspections does your business conduct in a year?
  • Set course of action for improvement; for example: 
    • Increase OHS training
    • Increase OHS discussions and inspections
    • Implement a safety committee, etc.

Tools and resources to help you ensure compliance to the occupational health and safety act

At CFIB, we’ve made it easier to comply with OHS standards by creating customizable templates that will keep your workplace and employees safe! CFIB members can find these templates by logging in.

Not a CFIB member yet? 


Interested in learning more? We’ve got occupational health and safety compliance programs for you.

Exclusively for members, CFIB’s partner, Vubiz, offers a wide range of FREE training courses related to health and safety:

  1. Health and Safety for Small Business
  2. Violence in the Workplace
  3. Health and Safety Committees
  4. Electrical Hazards
  5. Office Ergonomics
  6. Preventing Falls from Slips and Trips
  7. WHMIS for Workers - WHMIS helps employers and employees learn about particular hazardous chemicals and how to handle them in the work place. Most OHS acts require that some WHMIS training be provided, and as a CFIB member, you and your staff can access this free online course.

Members can also earn a Small Business Health & Safety Certificate at a 75% discount  - just $69 per person.

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