The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has been amended with the addition of section 25.2, to go into effect on June 1, 2023.
Section 25.2 states that Ontario employers will be required to provide naloxone kits in the workplace as well as adequate training on how to operate the kits, if that employer is aware that there may be a risk of an employee experiencing an opioid overdose while performing work for the employer.
Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and it can be ither injected in a muscle or administered as a nasal spray. For a limited time, Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program will provide free naloxone training for up to two workers per workplace as well as one free nasal spray naloxone kit per workplace. More information on how to access these resources can be found with Canadian Red Cross or St. John Ambulance.
Not all employers are required to comply with the requirements to provide naloxone in the workplace. Only those employers who are aware, or who ought reasonably to be aware, or the following scenarios are obligated to provide naloxone:
- There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose.
- This applies if a worker opioid overdose has already occurred in the workplace, an employer has been made aware of opioid use among workers in the workplace, or paraphernalia is found in the workplace.
- 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 OHSA requirements do not apply where the risk of an opioid overdose is created by a non-worker such as a customer, a patient, or another member of the public.
If all of these scenarios are present, the employer must comply with the requirements to provide naloxone in the workplace. If any of the above scenarios are not present, the employer is not required to comply.
At any time during which workers are in the workplace, the naloxone kit must be in the charge of a worker who works in the vicinity of the kit and who has received the proper training. The name and workplace location of the workers in charge of the naloxone kit must be posted in a conspicuous location within the vicinity of the naloxone kit. The training must include guidance on how to recognize an opioid overdose, how to administer naloxone, and information regarding any hazards related to the administration of naloxone.
The Good Samaritan Act, 2001 would generally apply to any worker who voluntarily administers naloxone at the workplace in an emergency response to an opioid overdose and would protect that employee from liability.
Employers are responsible for ensuring their naloxone kits are properly maintained and in good condition. This involves keeping the kits contained within a hard case, replacing any single use items as needed, and ensuring that no items in the kit are expired. Contents of the kit should be kept in the case until ready for use, protected from light, and stored at room temperature.
For more guidance regarding the requirements of section 25.2 and how to ensure your workplace complies, contact HR Enable today. We specialize in professional HR and legal consulting, and we have the expertise to guide you through the requirements as set out by OHSA to keep your workplace safe and in compliance with all regulations.