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Understanding Newfoundland and Labrador’s Occupational Health and Safety Requirements

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It is common sense for business owners to want employees to feel that they are working in a safe environment. It also makes good business practice for financial and productivity reasons to ensure that your business is operating as safely as possible. Focusing on safety is one way to minimize liability and risk within your business - and that translates into a healthy bottom line.

What are my obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Newfoundland and Labrador?

As an employer you are subject to formal requirements regarding workplace safety. These requirements could include a written occupational health and safety document and/or an internal health and safety program and committee. If your business handles dangerous equipment or substances, there may be even further requirements for you to be aware of.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, failure to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act can be charged as an offence.  Business owners found liable could be subjected to a fine up to $250,000, twelve months in prison or both.

Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Health and Safety requirements differ depending on the number of employees at a business.

For fewer than ten employees you need:

  • To print and keep a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act available for the employee to access;
  • To have a Health and Safety policy written and posted in a prominent place at the workplace (your Business Counsellor has templates for you to use);
  • To have a Worker Health and Safety Representative. (If fewer than 6 employees, and a representative is not practicable, you can have a Worker Health and Safety Designate); and
  • To post the name of the Worker Health and Safety Representative/Designate in a prominent place at the workplace. 

For more than ten employees you need:

  • To print and keep a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act available for the employee to access;
  • A Health and Safety program (your Business Counsellor has templates for you to use);
  • An Occupational Health and Safety Committee;
  • To post the names of the committee members in a prominent place at the workplace; and
  • To post the minutes of committee meetings in a prominent place in the workplace. 

In situations where an employee will be working alone, a written Working Alone Procedure for Checking on an Employee must be created. “Working Alone” means in circumstances where assistance would not be readily available to the worker. 

Newfoundland and Labrador First Aid requirements also differ depending on the number of employees.

For fewer than fifteen employees you need:

  • A written policy outlining the procedure for reporting injuries, which must be posted in a prominent place;
  • At least one worker with a valid emergency first aid certificate;
  • An emergency communications procedure including the name of the first aid certificate holder(s) and numbers/instructions for reaching nearest emergency services;
  • A first aid register, to be kept with the first aid kit; and
  • A #1 and a #2 first aid kit, as specified in Schedules B and C of the Regulations

For more than fifteen employees you need:

  • A written policy outlining the procedure for reporting injuries, which must be posted in a prominent place;
  • At least one worker with a standard first aid certificate, plus another worker holding an emergency first aid certificate for each group of 25 workers or part of it in excess of 25 workers;
  • An emergency communications procedure including the name of the first aid certificate holder(s) and numbers/instructions for reaching nearest emergency services;
  • A first aid register, to be kept with the first aid kit; and
  • A #1 and a #3 first aid kit as specified in Schedules C and D of the Regulations

There are further requirements for workplaces with more than 200 employees. Please contact a Business Counsellor for more information.

Do I need to purchase special training?

Some of our members have reported getting telemarketing calls from organizations who are soliciting them to purchase online web training for occupational health and safety. Training is required for Worker Health and Safety Representatives, Worker Health and Safety Designates and certain members of Health and Safety Committees. This training must be done through a trainer approved by WorkplaceNL (formerly WHSCC)

Do I need to allow health and safety officers into my business?

Health and safety officers are appointed under the authority of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They are given the legislative responsibility to enter and inspect workplaces to ensure a worker's right to a safe and healthy work environment, and to enforce provincial health and safety legislation. If an officer arrives at your business, it is wise to confirm his or her identity and verify their credentials.