April 15, 2011
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyAs the new season approaches, remember to undertake the annual workplace orientation process for all workers. In general, the process will include workplace orientation and training on tool use and storage and equipment operation, vehicles, and workplace and safety systems that will ensure a safe workforce and due diligence. To qualify certifications renewal, there must be a minimum of one qualified first aid person for each crew. Check each certification to verify and comply with renewal requirements. All staff must receive WHMIS training on an annual basis.

If you have not already done so, make sure all drivers abstracts have been updated and verified and are done so throughout the season on a regular basis. It is up to the employer to make sure that a driver is licensed. If not, the employer’s CVOR record is jeopardized. MTO recommends that a driver’s abstract is reviewed monthly for those designated to be on the road. Employers must include the company policy in the employee handbook that puts the onus on the driver to notify the employer of any infractions or change in license status within 24 hours of a change in a driver’s status between abstract submissions. This will help the employer manage CVOR records progressively and maintain a better record.

All new, young and returning workers should undergo orientation annually to ensure that all safety policies and processes are consistently communicated, trained and implemented in the workplace. A new worker is considered as any employee who has been employed in the present job description for less than six months, even if they have been with you for many years. As soon as a promotion or new position has been assumed by a long time or new employee, they are considered a ‘new worker’ and therefore required to complete orientation to the new work and environment.

On a recent visit to one of our leading employers, they told me that in their minds it is easier to treat every employee as a new or young worker, as they felt that their employees had been involved in either snow removal or were laid off over the winter months. This progressive company invests significant orientation and training in all of its team members and gains positive results both within their work culture and in regards to fewer loss time injuries.

Young workers are those between the ages of 14 and 24. New and young workers are once again the focus of Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspections for 2011. MOL has notified us that heightened enforcement blitzes will occur between May and August this year with zero tolerance. That means that you may have MOL inspectors appear at your shop, or job sites and who will focus on interviewing new and young workers. The inspector’s goal is to ensure that the proper orientation and training have occurred before an employee undertakes any revenue-producing work. For more information and to find resources go to: www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/atwork/youngworkers.php.

Violence and harassment assessment

Don’t forget to review the violence and harassment assessment that you developed and established for the first time last year, based on the new Bill 168 legislation that came into law on June 15, 2010.  The change to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is intended to strengthen protection for workers from workplace violence and address workplace harassment. The legislation defines an employer’s duties, and it applies to all workplaces covered by the OHSA. As with any safety policy, the standard and process will change as your business changes. Make sure you reassess the risks with your staff and then ensure that the policy and processes align with the actual risk exposure. For tools and resources to ensure compliance, go to www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_workplaceviolence.php.

Firms should employ processes to ensure continuous improvement from year to year and during the busy season, when it comes to safety and training. Make sure to engage the staff to measure and determine opportunities for improvement. Then act on those changes. When staff witness that employers care about their safety, it speaks volumes and generates loyalty and commitment.

Please note that the above recommendations represent only a reminder to orient and train workers. This in no way constitutes all that is required to be completely compliant. This will vary from workplace to workplace.

Landscape Industry Certified

For more information and to register as a candidate for Landscape Industry Certification Tests (CLP, CLD, CHT, CLT) go to: www.horttrades.com/landscape-industry-certified.
To register as a Landscape Industry Certification judge go to: www.landscapeontario.com/attach/1301418780.Judges_Application_2011.pdf.
Gain re-certification points that are required to renew your designation. For more information go to:

Contact Sally Harvey should you have any questions at sharvey@landscapontario.com.