1. Introduction

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) has the authority to give recognition to an employer, upon the employer’s application, if the employer is a certified user of a CPO accredited occupational health and safety management system in its workplace or workplaces and the employer meets all applicable criteria established by the CPO. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the CPO also has the authority to revoke an employer’s recognition.

The purpose of this document is to establish the criteria that an employer must meet to become recognized, and remain recognized, by the CPO. Learn more about the Supporting Ontario's Safe Employers Program.

These criteria have been prepared as part of a voluntary Ontario's Safe Employers program under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. These criteria do not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While these criteria will be made public, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based upon the facts as they may find them in the workplace. These criteria do not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.

2. Purpose and objectives

The purpose of the CPO employer recognition criteria are to outline minimum criteria that employers must meet in order to become, and remain recognized by the CPO. Criteria are relevant for the initial application to the CPO for recognition, and as well as ongoing maintenance through the quality assurance process. Once recognized by the CPO, an employer’s recognition can be revoked if they no longer meet the criteria.

The objectives of the CPO’s employer recognition criteria are to:

  1. verify that an employer has implemented an accredited occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) that meets the CPO’s OHSMS Accreditation Standard
  2. ensure that an employer who seeks to become recognized meets health and safety compliance criteria established by the CPO, including reviewing previous interactions with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
  3. confirm the employer who seeks to become recognized has demonstrated a commitment to worker participation in occupational health and safety, and to the internal responsibility system and continues to adhere to these principles.
  4. maintain the principles of continuous improvement in occupational health and safety by ensuring the employer’s CPO accredited occupational health and safety management system is sustained, monitored and reviewed
  5. preserve the integrity of the CPO’s recognition of employers by ensuring those recognized by the CPO maintain strong occupational health and safety outcomes

3. CPO employer recognition criteria

Employers applying for CPO recognition must successfully meet all objectives and associated criteria in the following areas:

  1. third party audit
  2. the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  3. worker participation and employer commitment to the internal responsibility system

3.1 Third party audit and confirmation of implementation of a CPO accredited OHSMS

Employers applying for recognition must demonstrate that they have fully implemented a CPO accredited OHSMS. In order to accomplish this, the employer seeking CPO recognition must provide the CPO with the final results of an audit, completed by a lead auditor, which demonstrates the full implementation of a CPO accredited OHSMS.

Third party audit requirements

  1. An employer seeking CPO recognition must provide the CPO with the result of the third party audit demonstrating that all outstanding non-conformities have been fulfilled prior to applying for CPO recognition. This must be demonstrated by providing the CPO with one of the following:
    1. a valid certificate from a certification body that the OHSMS is implemented and the OHSMS is accredited by the CPO. See Certification Bodies below. The certificate must include:
      1. name and address of the certified organization
      2. the scope of the OHSMS
      3. validity date, which must be within twelve months prior to applying for recognition
      4. name of the organization that issued the certificate
      5. unique identifier, and
      6. the standard to which the certificate has been issued (such as ISO 45001: 2018)
    2. an audit report signed off by a lead auditor who meets the Lead Auditor Requirements of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. This report must include:
      1. lead auditor credentials, including unique certification/registration identifier
      2. name of the certification body the lead auditor is registered with
      3. the date(s) the audit(s) were conducted which must be within twelve months prior to applying for recognition
      4. the audit scope
      5. a statement by the lead auditor verifying that all non-conformities have been closed and
      6. declaration by the lead auditor that the audit criteria has been met
  2. In order to build the required history to adequately perform a third party audit on an employer’s CPO accredited OHSMS, the CPO accredited OHSMS implemented by the employer applying for CPO recognition must have undergone an entire Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle which includes a complete management review, and an internal audit of the accredited standard for which the OHSMS has been implemented.

Lead auditor requirements

  1. Lead auditors must be certified by and registered with a certification body that is acceptable to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Chief Prevention Officer.

    Note:  A lead auditor may be registered with more than one certification body simultaneously.

  2. The lead auditor must be in good standing with the certification body for which the lead auditor is registered at the time the audit was conducted, including the date the audit was officially closed.
  3. Lead auditors must be able to provide the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development with the following information: 
    1. proof of registration, such as a registration card, with the name of the certification body
    2. valid registration number or unique identifier
    3. contact information of the certification body
    4. registration expiry date

Certification bodies

  1. The certification body must:
    1. Be certified or accredited to international standard ISO 17021 – 1 Conformity assessment —Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems – and the supplement ISO 17021-10: Competence requirements for auditing and certification of occupational health and safety management systems, or
    2. Be certified or accredited to international standard ISO 17024 — Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, or
    3. Demonstrate to the CPO that the certification process meets, as a minimum, specified requirements of ISO 17024 — Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. Refer to the CPO governing body of auditor requirements and application for details on how to meet these requirements.

Note:  For the purposes of this document only:

  • any reference to ISO 17024, means the full name of the standard ISO 17024 — Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons and all contents within
  • any reference to ISO 17021,  means the full name of the standard ISO 17021 – 1 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems and the supplement ISO 17021-10: Competence requirements for auditing and certification of occupational health and safety management systems

3.2 Criteria for demonstrating compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Employers who wish to become recognized by the CPO must ensure that they can demonstrate compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In order to become a CPO recognized employer, the applicant must have:

  1. no Part III convictions under the Provincial Offences Act within three years from the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition for non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and
  2. no ongoing prosecutions under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act upon the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition for non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act

These criteria will be cross referenced with relevant Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s records.

3.3 Criteria for employer commitment to worker participation and the internal responsibility system

Employers who wish to become recognized by the CPO must demonstrate worker participation in occupational health and safety in the workplace, and validate a commitment to the internal responsibility system. Employers who wish to be CPO recognized must meet the following criteria:

  1. no previous Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) decisions ruling against the employer or person acting on behalf of the employer related to reprisals against a worker for exercising their rights under Occupational Health and Safety Act within three years of the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition, and
  2. no Part III convictions under the Provincial Offences Act or outstanding orders issued by an inspector under the OHSA for the failure to cause a joint health and safety committee to be established or the failure to cause the workers to select a health and safety representative (as applicable) within three years of the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition, and
  3. no ongoing prosecution under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act related to the failure to cause the establishment of a joint health and safety committee or the failure to cause the workers to select a health and safety representative (as applicable) upon the date of the employer applying for CPO recognition
  4. the employer has provided, or can otherwise confirm, that the health and safety representative, if required at the workplace, has received training on the legislative duties and functions of a health and safety representative under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

These criteria will be reviewed against Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development records or through materials submitted by the employer to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

4. Quality assurance and reporting requirements for CPO recognized employers

Section 7.6.4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides the CPO the authority to collect any information, records or accounts the CPO requires from an employer seeking CPO recognition, or subject to CPO recognition. The ongoing reporting and quality assurance process outlined in this document is meant to ensure the following:

  1. the CPO recognized employer is maintaining and continuously improving their CPO accredited OHSMS verified by internal and third party audits, as required
  2. the CPO recognized employer continues to meet CPO recognition criteria

4.1 CPO accredited OHSMS conformance verification

To ensure the employer has successfully maintained their CPO accredited OHSMS, the following criteria must be met:

  1. a third party audit must be conducted and successfully closed out every three years from the date of the CPO recognized employer’s previous third party audit that meets the criteria found in section 3.1
  2. an internal audit must be conducted and successfully closed out annually which demonstrates to the CPO that the CPO accredited OHSMS is being maintained. The internal audit must be completed:
    • in accordance with the ‘Internal Audit’ requirement of the CPO OHSMS Accreditation Standard, and
    • with the participation of workers, or worker representatives (as applicable)
  3. all audits, either third-party or internal, must demonstrate that the employer conforms to the CPO accredited OHSMS which they have chosen to implement

4.2 Compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Annually from the date of the employer becoming CPO recognized, the employer must provide the CPO an attestation that the CPO recognized employer has not had:

  1. any Part III conviction under the Provincial Offences Act for non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Any attestations may be cross referenced with relevant information and data to verify a CPO recognized employer’s attestation. Any criteria not met may be grounds for the CPO recognized employer to have the employer’s CPO recognition revoked.

4.3 Commitment to worker participation and the internal responsibility system

Annually from the date of the employer becoming CPO recognized, the employer must submit an annual report confirming the following for the time period after CPO recognition was granted, or since the last annual report to the CPO (as applicable):

  1. attest that no OLRB decisions have ruled against the CPO recognized employer for reprising against a worker for exercising their rights under Occupational Health and Safety Act
  2. attest that the CPO recognized employer has not received any order issued by an inspector under the OHSA or does not have an ongoing Part III prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act for the failure to cause a joint health and safety committee to be established or the failure to cause the workers to select a health and safety representative as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  3. if the health and safety representative has changed since the employer’s recognition or last annual report submitted to the ministry, demonstrate that the health and safety representative has received basic training on the legislative duties and functions of a health and safety representative under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Any attestations may be cross referenced with relevant information and data to verify a CPO recognized employer’s attestation. Any criteria not met may be grounds for the CPO recognized employer to have their CPO recognition revoked.

5. Revocation

Subsection 7.6.3(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides the CPO with the authority to revoke recognition from an employer. The criteria for CPO revocation are aligned with maintenance of the CPO recognition criteria and the below themes:

  1. third party audit
  2. the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  3. worker participation and commitment to the internal responsibility system

5.1 Criteria for revocation: Audit

The recognition provided by the CPO may be revoked from a CPO recognized employer if the third party have not been met. The criteria for CPO revocation include:

  1. if the employer seeking to demonstrate that they meet a CPO accredited OHSMS has not successfully closed out a third party audit
  2. if the lead auditor who conducted the third party audit does not meet the requirements of section 3.1 of this document
  3. if a third-party audit has not occurred within three years of the anniversary date from the date the employer is initially recognized and subsequently every three years thereafter
  4. if the certificate issued by the organization identified in Section 3.1 — Third Party Audit Requirements, subsection (a)(i) of this document, is revoked by the organization that issued the certificate (e.g. loss of certificate to ISO 45001), if applicable

5.2 Criteria for revocation: Compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act

The criteria for CPO revocation regarding non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act include:

  1. any Part III conviction under the Provincial Offences Act against a CPO recognized employer for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

5.3 Criteria for revocation: Commitment to worker participation and the internal responsibility system

Any conviction or ruling which may demonstrate an employer’s lack of commitment to the internal responsibility system, or to meaningful worker participation in occupational health and safety at the workplace may be cause for an employer to have their CPO recognition status revoked. The criteria for CPO revocation include:

  1. Ontario Labour Relations Board decisions ruling against the CPO recognized employer or a person acting on behalf of an employer for reprising against a worker for exercising their rights under Occupational Health and Safety Act, and
  2. any orders issued against a CPO recognized employer for failing to cause a joint health and safety committee to be established, or failing to cause workers to select a health and safety representative, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

5.4 Additional criteria for revocation

The CPO may also revoke an employer’s recognition if the CPO becomes aware of any false information, reference, or documents that have been attested or submitted to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development by the employer.

The CPO may also revoke an employer’s recognition if the CPO becomes aware that an Annual Report has not been submitted to the CPO by the anniversary date of the employer receiving CPO recognition or where the employer no longer meets all of the Employer Recognition Criteria.

Updated: August 19, 2021
Published: May 09, 2019