Posted on April 24th, 2020 in Agribusiness, Human Resources Advisory

Ministry of Labour Inspections for Temporary Foreign Agricultural Workers in Ontario – What to Expect

close up of a pair of red pruners, clipping vines

Starting April 21, 2020, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) will begin to conduct workplace inspections with a focus on workplaces that employ temporary foreign agricultural workers across Ontario.

The goal of these inspections is to provide education, support, and compliance assistance to employers with regards to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and recent restrictions related to COVID-19.  This province-wide initiative will focus on workplaces in the farming and agricultural sectors where temporary foreign agricultural workers are known to work.

Who is Affected?

The MLTSD will be conducting proactive occupational health and safety visits to farms, greenhouses, and other locations where agricultural workers (as well as workers ancillary to agricultural operations such as delivery persons and cleaners) are working. Those employed as farm and greenhouse workers, equipment operators, maintenance workers, truck drivers, cleaners, delivery persons, and administrative staff are just some of those who need to consider how they can work safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 must be done in compliance with the requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), emergency orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), and public health directives and guidance issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health.

What Inspectors Will be Looking for

Inspectors will likely focus on the following:

  • How many workers are working;
  • What screening the employer has in place to prevent workers who may have COVID-19 from coming to work;
    • What policies and procedures are in place to ensure that workers with symptoms of COVID-19 are not entering the workplace (symptoms include: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, among others);
  • How the employer is ensuring physical distancing (minimum 2 metre separation) between workers;
  • How the employer is ensuring proper onsite hygiene; and
  • Other precautions including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have obligations under the OHSA and its regulations to protect workers from hazards in the workplace, including infectious diseases.

Under the OHSA employers must:

  • Ensure workers are aware of hazards and dangers by providing information, instruction and supervision on how to work safely;
  • Ensure supervisors know what is required to protect workers’ health and safety on the job;
  • Create workplace health and safety policies and procedures;
  • Ensure everyone follows the law and the workplace health and safety policies and procedures;
  • Ensure workers wear and use the right protective equipment; and
  • Do everything reasonable in all circumstances to protect workers.

For questions related to these inspections and advice on policies or procedures you may need to implement please contact one of our Human Resources Advisors at hr@djb.com.

More articles related to COVID-19: Business Resource Centre