A Health and Safety Representative (HSR) is required in most workplaces with 6-19 workers.

The role of the HSR is to support health and safety in the workplace.

An eLearning basic training program has been developed to help HSRs carry out their duties.

Eligible small business employers can apply to be reimbursed for the HSR’s training cost through the Ontario Small Business Health and Safety Training program.

Learn more about when an HSR is required.

HSR and employer requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

Employers or constructors must ensure that an HSR is selected in workplaces, including construction projects at which:

  • the number of workers regularly employed is 6 or more and
  • no joint health and safety committee is required (JHSCs are required for most workplaces with 20 or more workers regularly employed)

An HSR must be selected by either:

  • their fellow workers who do not exercise managerial functions
  • the union, if the workplace is unionized

Key responsibilities

Key responsibilities and powers of HSRs under the OHSA include:

  • identifying actual and potential workplace hazards
  • inspecting the workplace regularly
  • being consulted about and being present at the beginning of health and safety related testing in the workplace
  • making recommendations to the employer about health and safety in the workplace
  • participating in investigation of work refusals
  • inspecting the site of a critical injury or fatality at a workplace
  • obtaining health and safety related information from the employer

Employers have a general duty under the OHSA to co-operate with the HSR to carry out their legislative functions. Employers are required to:

  • provide any information that the HSR has the power to obtain from the employer
  • respond to HSR recommendations in writing
  • give the HSR copies of all written orders and reports issued by the MLITSD inspector
  • report any workplace deaths, injuries and illnesses to the HSR
  • pay the HSR while they are performing their HSR duties

Learn more about HSRs in the MLITSD guide on health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees.

HSR basic training

Health and Safety Representatives should have a broad foundational occupational health and safety knowledge.

A one-day, eLearning basic training program to help HSRs perform their legislative functions has been developed through collaboration between the Ministry and health and safety partners.

The eLearning training is available from the following providers:

Two-day in-person or virtual classroom, worker HSR training is also available from the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC).

Course content

The HSR eLearning basic training program covers the following topics:

  • occupational health and safety law
  • rights, duties and responsibilities of the workplace parties
  • duties and responsibilities of the HSR under the OHSA
  • common workplace hazards
  • hazard recognition, assessment, control, and evaluation (RACE methodology) of hazard controls
  • applying the RACE methodology (recognize, assess, control and evaluate) to a workplace hazard
  • health and safety resources available to the workplace parties

This basic training program is useful for workplaces that require an HSR, regardless of sector.

Training providers and employers who wish to design their own basic training for HSRs should follow the program guideline and provider guideline for health and safety representative basic training.

In addition to HSR basic training, specialized sector-specific HSR training programs are available through various training providers.

Reimbursement for basic HSR training

Small businesses can apply to be reimbursed for HSR training through Ontario’s Small Business Health and Safety Training Program. The program will reimburse eligible employers a total of:

  • $175 for the one-day eLearning training (covers $25 course registration fee and $150 HSR’s training time)
  • $350 for the two-day in person or virtual classroom training (covers $50 course registration fee and $300 HSR’s training time)

Eligible for reimbursement

To be eligible for reimbursement through the Small Business Health and Safety Training Program, small businesses must:

  • regularly employ 6–19 workers in an Ontario workplace or be required to have an HSR in other circumstances
  • have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) number
  • have an appointed HSR complete the basic HSR training course from a participating training provider between July 15, 2021 and March 31, 2024
  • keep a copy of the certificate of completion

Apply for reimbursement

Employers can take the following steps to be reimbursed:

  • register your appointed HSR for basic HSR training through a participating training provider
  • have the HSR complete the training and get the certificate of completion
  • apply for reimbursement through the Small Business Health and Safety Training Program application form. Applications can be submitted until July 15, 2024
  • upon review and approval of your application, you should receive reimbursement for the cost of training within 6–8 weeks

Health and safety resources for small businesses