Legislation and Responsibilities

For the purposes of the Occupational Health & Safety Act, all University employees are considered workers. This includes Faculty members, research, administrative and other support staff, and students, where they have been paid to perform work or supply services. The Act also defines a supervisor as anyone in charge of a workplace of with authority over a worker. Thus, faculty members or principal investigators who oversee a research project are also considered to be supervisors.

All workers have legal obligations under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act to ensure that all work, by anyone doing work in the Institute or directly related to the Institute, is conducted in a safe manner. The purpose of the Act is to protect workers from health and safety hazards in the workplace, and to establish procedures for dealing with hazards in the workplace.

This manual lists the Institute and University policies developed in response to the Act. The basis of the Act is that the employer must take every reasonable precaution to protect workers and workers (defined as Institute employees, all students being paid within the Institute, visiting researchers, or anyone else doing work in the Institute) are forbidden from disobeying safety regulations and from knowingly working in an unsafe manner. Fines and/or jail sentences may be (and have been) issued for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The University and its employees must also abide by a number of other federal, provincial, and municipal regulations related to the Occupational Health & Safety Act. These regulations include, but are not limited to, regulations governing the disposal of wastes, the handling of designated substances, the handling and disposal of radioactive or biohazardous materials, and transport and handling of dangerous goods.

Supervisor Responsibility
    Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, supervisors have a legal duty to take every reasonable precaution to ensure that their workplace is safe. The following specific duties, as determined by EEB, also apply:

    • Supervisors must implement the specifications within this document in their workplace;
    • Supervisors must ensure that all laboratory workers clearly understand their responsibilities as defined in this document and provide a copy of this document to their employees;
    • Supervisors must be familiar with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and with the University and Institute policies as they apply to the workplace under their supervision;
    • Supervisors must ensure that their laboratories are in compliance with all Biosafety and Radiation requirements appropriate to the level of research being conducted within the laboratory;
    • Supervisors must ensure that workers under their supervision enroll and participate in safety training sessions;
    • Supervisors must be knowledgable about health and safety hazards (actual or potential) in their workplace, and must advise workers about these hazards;
    • Supervisors must provide appropriate safety and protective equipment to workers, and ensure that this equipment is properly maintained. Safety procedures for activities involving hazardous work must be available within the laboratory;
    • Supervisors must ensure that workers under their supervision properly use safety equipment, and that workers follow safe working procedures, as governed by the Act or by University or Departmental policies;
    • Supervisors must maintain an up-to-date inventory of all hazardous materials in their workplace;
    • Supervisors must ensure that all hazardous materials are properly identified and labelled, and that material safety data sheets are readily available for all hazardous materials;
    • Supervisors must ensure that hazardous materials are disposed of in accordance with federal, provincial, municipal, University, and Departmental regulations. Please see the EHS website for complete details;
    • Supervisors must ensure that all accidents/incidents involving unpaid students or visitors have been reported to the Insurance and Risk Management office by completing the online form within 24 hours of occurrence.
Worker Responsibility
    >As previously outlined, workers (defined as Institute employees, all employed students within the Institute, or anyone else being paid for doing work in the Institute) must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations and policies. Specific duties include:

    • Workers must attend the appropriate safety training sessions as determined by the Institute;
    • Workers must be familiar with the hazards and safety procedures for activities involving hazardous work in the laboratory, as well as, information systems, such as Material Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory;
    • Workers must know the labeling requirements of the WHMIS regulation;
    • Workers must use the appropriate laboratory safety equipment and personal protective equipment as provided and directed by the employer;
    • Workers must do their work in accordance with written safety procedures for activities involving hazardous work in the laboratory;
    • Workers must follow proper disposal of hazardous wastes;
    • Workers must immediately report unsafe working conditions and violations of safety regulations to their supervisor, of to the Chair of the Institute or the Co-Chairs of the Departmental EEB/CSB Joint Health and Safety Committee;
    • Workers must not remove or tamper with protective devices required by the Act or by the employer;
    • Workers must not work in a manner that may endanger themselves of any other worker;
    • Workers must not engage in horseplay, pranks, or other potentially dangerous conduct;
    • Workers must report all accidents/incidents to the Health and Well-being Programs and Services within 24 hours of occurrence. Please complete the form to report accidents/incidents.
Office of Environmental Health and Safety Responsibility
    The Office of Environmental Health and Safety has the following responsibilities:

    • To provide technical advice and recommendations to the University community on matters related to health and safety in the laboratory;
    • To provide collection and disposal services for hazardous waste;
    • To provide Health and Safety training to employees of the University of Toronto.
EEB/CSB Joint Health and Safety Committee Responsibility
    • To forward updated safety information and policies to EEB/CSB labs accordingly;
    • To oversee annual laboratory safety inspections;
    • To be available to all EEB/CSB staff for advice on safety-related issues;
    • To conduct an annual review of this manual to assure compliance with the University of Toronto and EEB/CSB safety regulations.