Supervisors and Workers

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario provides definitions of the various categories of people in the workplace and assigns specific duties and responsibilities to them.

Who is a Supervisor?

A supervisor is anyone who has either charge of a workplace or authority over a worker.

This broad definition given in the Occupational Health & 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. Please see Occupational Health and Safety Guide for Supervisors.

Who is a worker?

A worker is a person who is paid to perform work or supply service. Thus all University employees are workers. In addition, where students are paid to perform work, for example, teaching assistants, they become workers under the Act.

It is the policy of the University that it will be a safe and healthy place to work and study. Therefore, although they may not meet the precise definition of worker, students should be afforded the same protection that would be afforded a worker under the Act. Please see Occupational Health and Safety Guide for Supervisors, Duties of Supervisors and Workers.


Supervisors have a general legal duty to take every precaution reasonable under the circumstances to protect workers.


Workers must work in compliance with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

Health and Safety Policy

The University of Toronto Health and Safety Policy was approved by the Governing Council in June 1993. The policy states the University's commitment to maintaining a safe and healthful environment in which to work and to study.

Accident Reporting

Reporting of accidents is mandatory under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. In the event of an accident or incident while working in Chemistry, an Accident/Incident report must be completed within 24 hours and submitted to Yacine Merabtine in room 20. This report is available on line in PDF format. For more information on accident reporting requirements, read the following University of Toronto procedures.


The Occupational Health & Safety Act states that MSDS must be available in the workplace for all hazardous materials. Departmental policy requires those people handling hazardous materials to be familiar with MSDS prior to handling. In addition, the sheets must be readily accessible by all workers who may be exposed to the hazardous material to which it relates.

When ordering chemicals from a supplier, ask the supplier to fax the appropriate sheet to you at your fax number. If this is not requested and the chemical has been ordered recently by others, the supplier does not routinely send the information or may send it to a central point.

MSDS are available from University of Toronto Environmental Health and Safety. If assistance is required contact the Departmental Safety Officer: Yacine Merabtine (416) 978-3570.