Who is a supervisor and what are their duties? This page will answer those questions, plus provide the information to enable supervisors to fulfill their role in health and safety.
Here is a quick link to the Supervisors Health & Safety Guidelines and Inspections Templates.
Who Is a Supervisor?
Supervisors are key in providing a healthy and safe workplace. Given the diverse nature of the University, supervisors are even more crucial in ensuring our workplace is free from hazards. This will aid you in determining whether or not you have supervisory responsibilities.
A supervisor is anyone who has either charge of a workplace or authority over a worker. This broad definition given in the Occupational Health and Safety Act is applicable in both the academic and administrative divisions of the University.
Thus in academic departments, individual faculty members or principal investigators may have charge of a workplace (e.g. a laboratory) or have some degree of authority over graduate students, teaching assistants, administrative staff, or other University employees. In such a case they are supervisors as defined in the Act.
Among the administrative staff of the University the supervisory role is generally more clearly defined and outlined in position descriptions.
Supervisors are given a number of duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario.
Supervisors have a general legal duty to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers.
In addition, they have the following specific duties outlined in the Occupational Health & Safety Act and Regulations:
- Supervisors must be familiar with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations, and the University's health and safety policies and procedures, as they apply to the workplace under their control.
- Supervisors must be knowledgeable about potential or actual health and safety hazards in the workplace and advise workers about these hazards. This can be accomplished by completing a Position Hazard Communication Form with each staff member.
- Supervisors must ensure that equipment, materials and protective devices required by regulation are provided to workers and maintained in good condition.
- Supervisors must ensure that workers follow workplace procedures and use protective equipment required by the University or by any applicable regulations.
- Supervisors must provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.
- Supervisors must ensure that subordinate supervisors have or acquire knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations and the University's health and safety policies and procedures pertaining to their workplace.
- Supervisors must ensure that an up-to-date inventory is maintained of all designated substances, hazardous materials and hazardous physical agents present in the workplace.
- Supervisors must ensure that all hazardous materials present in the workplace are identified and labelled in the manner prescribed by regulations such as the WHMIS Regulation.
- Supervisors must ensure that material safety data sheets are readily available for all hazardous materials present in the workplace.
- Supervisors must ensure that workers exposed to a hazardous material or hazardous physical agent receive and participate in prescribed instruction and training.
- Supervisors must ensure hazardous materials present in the workplace are disposed of in the manner prescribed by University procedures and applicable regulations.
- In the case of a workplace injury, supervisors must ensure that prompt medical attention is provided and must report the circumstances of the injury to Occupational Health and Safety within 24 hours.
One of the major duties of a supervisor is to ensure that staff and graduate students who report to them have received appropriate health and safety training. Refer to this matrix for a listing of the training required by various worker groups and offered by OHS.
This guide has been developed by Occupational Health and Safety to assist supervisors on campus in meeting their requirements under the Occupational Healh and Safety Act of Ontario.