Provisions on New Requirement for Workplace Naloxone Kits Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act Proclaimed Into Force

As detailed in a previous Focus Alert, Bill 88 – also known as the Working for Workers Act, 2022 –  amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) such that certain employers will be subject to a new requirement to keep a naloxone kit in the workplace. Although Bill 88 received royal assent last April, the provisions regarding naloxone kits have only recently been proclaimed into force effective June 1, 2023.

As a brief reminder, Bill 88 requires that employers who become aware or ought reasonably to be aware that there may be a risk of a worker having an opioid overdose at a workplace where the worker performs work for the employer must provide a naloxone kit in the workplace and maintain it in good condition. Bill 88 also requires such employers to provide training in relation to the naloxone kit and to ensure that the naloxone kit is in the charge of a worker who works in the vicinity of the kit and who has received the aforementioned training.

It is important to note that the Ontario government has recently filed O. Reg. 559/22: Naloxone Kits under the OHSA which prescribes requirements regarding the provision and maintenance of naloxone kits. More specifically, the regulation provides that:

  • Every naloxone kit shall be used, stored and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The contents of each naloxone kit must be kept in a hard case.
  • The contents of each naloxone kit must be for a single use and promptly replaced after such use.
  • The contents of each naloxone kit must not have expired.
  • The names and workplace locations of the workers who are in charge of the naloxone kit in the workplace and who have received the training referred to in subsection 25.2(3) of the OHSA shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the vicinity of the kit where their names and workplace locations are most likely to come to the attention of other workers.

As for the contents of the naloxone kit itself, the regulation provides that:

  • A nasal spray naloxone kit must include two doses of intra-nasal spray, with each dose containing 4 mg/0.1 ml of naloxone hydrochloride, one rescue breathing barrier, and one pair of non-latex gloves, and
  • An injectable naloxone kit must include two vials or two ampoules, with each vial or ampoule containing a 0.4 mg/0.1 ml dose of naloxone, one device for each ampoule included in the kit to safely open the ampoule (such as a breaker, snapper or opener), two syringes attached to 25 gauge safety-engineered needles measuring 1 inch in length, two alcohol swabs, one rescue breathing barrier, and one pair of non-latex gloves.

The Ontario government has also published guidance on Naloxone in the Workplace, which is intended to help employers determine whether they are required to have a naloxone kit at their workplace, as well as to help employers to get a free naloxone kit and training on how to use it. Although this guidance does not replace the OHSA and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice, it may nonetheless be helpful for employers navigating this new workplace naloxone kit requirement. For example, the guidance clarifies that employers must provide a naloxone kit when the employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of the following scenarios:

  • There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose.
  • There is a risk that the worker overdoses while in a workplace where they perform work for the employer.
  • The risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer.

The guidance discusses each of the scenarios in greater detail and explains that if all three scenarios are present, an employer will be required to comply with the new workplace naloxone kit requirement.

In Our View

Employers who are subject to this new requirement should take steps as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are in compliance with the OHSA and O. Reg. 559/22 by no later than June 1, 2023. This is particularly so in light of the recent increase in the maximum possible fines for convictions under the OHSA from $100,000 to $1,500,000 for directors and officers of corporations, and to $500,000 for other individuals.

For more information, please contact Paul Lalonde at 613-940-2759, Patrick Twagirayezu at 343-999-6485 or Noel Platte at 613-218-7987.

 

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