Some time ago we received an inquiry from an RM as to whether or not the RM ratepayers, who are given permission by Council to do snow removal on municipal roads, must be “competent operators” within the meaning of section 154 of The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996, R.R.S. c.O 1.1 Reg 1 (“the Regulations”).
As you will know, subsection 154 (2) of the Regulations provides, in part, that “an employer or contractor shall ensure that only competent operators are required or permitted to operate powered mobile equipment”.
A “competent operator” is, according to subsection 154 (1) of the Regulations, a worker who has successfully completed an approved training program or who is completing the training under the direct supervision of a competent operator.
The equipment used in snow removal would, of course, be considered “powered mobile equipment”.
It is a common practice for RMs to give ratepayers permission to do snow removal. In some cases the RM pays the ratepayers for doing this, in others not.
Clearly the RM is not the “employer” of such persons. The question, however, is whether the RM is a “contractor” relative to such persons, such that the RM would then be obliged to ensure that they are “competent operators”.
We then discussed this with Occupational Health and Safety. It was their opinion, with which we agreed, that the Regulations would not apply if the RM did not pay the ratepayer but that they would apply if the RM did pay the ratepayer.
Recognizing that it would likely create problems if RMs had to ensure that every ratepayer who was to be given permission to do snow removal on municipal roads, and who was to be paid therefor, had to go through the training required to become a “competent operator” within the meaning of section 154 of the Regulations, SARM asked Occupational Health and Safety to look at the granting of an exemption in this situation.
The authority to grant exemptions is set out in section 46 of The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, S.S. 1993, c. O- 1.1 (“the Act”). Subsection 46(1) of the Act reads as follows: “In order to meet the special circumstances in a particular case, the director may, on receipt of a written application and after any consultation with interested persons that the director considers advisable, exempt conditionally or otherwise any person or class of persons from any provision of the regulations or a code of practice”. Subsection 46(2) of the Act provides that such an exemption “shall be made only where the director is satisfied that the standard of health and safety of any worker is not materially affected by the exemption”.
We are pleased to report that Occupational Health and Safety has now granted the exemption. To view the Exemption click here. Note that one of the conditions imposed is that it will only apply with respect to residents who have signed an agreement with the RM. A form of agreement has been included at the end of the Exemption.