Certain Employers in Ontario Are Now Required to Have Naloxone Kits At Their Workplace
New changes to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) require employers to provide naloxone kits at their workplaces under certain circumstances. Naloxone is a drug that temporarily reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose.
Starting June 1, 2023, certain Ontario employers must provide at least one naloxone kit in good condition at their workplace. Guidance from the Ontario government indicates that an employer must comply with the naloxone kit requirements when the employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of the following scenarios:
- there is a risk of a worker opioid overdose;
- there is a risk that the worker overdoses while in a workplace where they perform work for the employer; and
- the risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer.
Any time there are workers in such a workplace, the naloxone kit must be in the charge of a worker who works near the kit and who has undergone specific training on how to recognize an opioid overdose, how to administer naloxone, and to be acquainted with any hazards associated with administering naloxone. An employer is not permitted to disclose more personal information of its workers to those in charge of the kit than is reasonably necessary to comply with the naloxone requirements. In addition to the requirement that the worker in charge of the kit must work in the vicinity of the kit, employers must post the names and workplace locations of the worker(s) in charge in a conspicuous place in the vicinity of the kit where that information is most likely to come to the attention of other workers.
While the new rules do not explicitly require an employer to provide more than one kit in each workplace where there is a risk of a worker having an opioid overdose, employers are required to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect their workers. Accordingly, some employers may determine that they are obligated to provide multiple naloxone kits in addition to taking other precautions.
The required contents for naloxone kits are set out in Ontario Regulation 559/22. Additionally, employers must ensure that their naloxone kits are:
- used, stored, and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions;
- kept in a hard case;
- single use and promptly replaced after use; and
- not expired.
Given that the new law requires employers to determine whether it applies to them and then sets forth a fairly open-ended standard to utilize in making that determination, employers are well-advised to contact counsel on this new law.