Occupational Health and Safety Obligations for Employers

Does your workplace have a system in place to navigate legislated occupational health and safety obligations?

Given the overlapping roles and responsibilities under the legislation with respect to occupational health and safety, it is critical for employers to establish clear lines of accountability to effectively manage occupational health and safety risks, incidents and complaints.

Employer and Supervisor Responsibilities

Employers and supervisors each have related and overlapping responsibilities related to ensuring the health and safety of workers. For example, employers have a general obligation under subsection 3-8(a) of The Saskatchewan Employment Act to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all the employer’s workers, insofar is reasonably practicable. Correspondingly, supervisors have a general obligation under subsection 3-9(b) to ensure the health and safety at work of all workers who work under the supervisor’s direct supervision and direction, insofar as is reasonably practicable.

Occupational Health and Safety Committees

Many employers are also required to establish an occupational health and safety committee at their place of employment. These committees also play an important role in regulating occupational health and safety at the workplace. For example, their legislative duties include:

  • Participating in identifying workplace hazards
  • Establishing, promoting and recommending occupational health and safety education for workers
  • Receiving and resolving matters respecting the health and safety of workers
  • Investigating dangerous work refusals

Complaints and Remedies

Occupational health committees, occupational health and safety representatives or occupational health and safety officers can raise complaints regarding occupational health and safety in the workplace. Complaints can lead to investigations, notices of contravention/orders, offences, fines and other liability. It is important for employers to take prompt action where occupational health and safety complaints are involved.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.