Workers Health & Safety Centre

Defining "Notification Requirements Under the Act"

Sections 51, 52 and 53 set out the requirements for employers to advise the union, the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative and the Ministry of Labour of workplace incidents. Many workplaces do not provide the information as required by law, significantly undermining workers’ rights to know and participate. It is important WHSC instructors know and encourage compliance with these essential legislative requirements.
OHSA Event Who What When
51 Worker killed or critically injured JHSC/HSR, union, MOL Notification Immediately
MOL Report containing prescribed information and particulars Within 48 hours
52(1) Worker disabled from doing usual work or requires medical attention JHSC/HSR, union Written notice including prescribed information and particulars Within 4 days
52(2),(3) Employer advised has occupational illness or such claim has been filed with WSIB JHSC/HSR, union, MOL Written notice including prescribed information and particulars Within 4 days
53 Accidental explosions, etc. in mine, mining plant or construction site JHSC/HSR, union, MOL Written notice including prescribed information and particulars Within 2 days

The “information and particulars” to be provided in the reports and written notices are outlined in each of the sector regulations.
There is some vagueness in the term “medical attention” used in subsection 52(1). This has often – but wrongly – been interpreted to mean that unless an emergency paramedic is called or the worker visits a physician, there is no need for notification. But 52(1) does not set the standard as high as a requirement for professional medical attention. “Medical attention” can be given by anyone including a co-worker, a supervisor or the worker her- or himself. What is important is not who gives the attention, but whether the attention given is medical. As a guideline we can recommend that medical attention has been given whenever materials found in a first aid kit (other than a bandage for minor cuts or scrapes) are required to be used.
There is also a lot of misinterpretation about the meaning of “disabled from doing usual work.” In some workplaces this is interpreted to mean requiring a notice only when a worker loses work time. This is a wrong interpretation. If a worker is accommodated in any way – assistive devices, light duties, change of duties etc. – because of the event, the employer must report the event to the JHSC and union to be legally compliant.
Unfortunately many workplaces play “catch-me-if-you-can” on the issue of notifications under sections 51, 52 and 53. And unfortunately the Ministry does not ticket, fine or prosecute for failing to comply with these provisions of the law. It is therefore vitally important that workers and worker representatives know the law and encourage compliance in their workplace. Just as important, once workers and their representatives understand notification requirements, they can insist on Ministry enforcement when these requirements go unmet. The more frequent this demand is made, the more likely the Ministry will change their approach.