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Naloxone kits must be on Ontario jobsites by June 1

May 26, 2023  By Don Horne

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is advising builders that new legislation kicks in June 1, requiring employers to have life-saving naloxone kits on construction sites.

“Most RESCON members are already ahead of the game and have included naloxone kits on site as part of their health and safety protocols, but we want to make sure everybody is aware of the deadline,” says RESCON VP Andrew Pariser who is chair of the association’s safety committee. “This is an easy best practice that can save lives.”

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), all Ontario employers who know, or ought to know, that there is a risk of an opioid overdose in their workplace, are required to ensure that, at all times while there are workers in the workplace, a naloxone kit is made available in good condition.

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The naloxone kits are important because they have medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow time for medical help to arrive. Ensuring there are kits on hand will also help to reduce the stigma around opioid abuse and raise awareness about the risks of accidental overdoses. About 2,500 people in Ontario died from opioid-related causes between March 2020 and January 2021. Of the victims who were employed, 30 per cent worked in the construction industry.

Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton has indicated that the province is bringing naloxone kits to high-risk settings and making them free because it must do everything possible to save lives. The ministry’s first approach is education, but under the OHSA more significant fines can now be imposed on poor performers and repeat offenders.

“Safety and providing a safe work environment have always been a priority of RESCON and its employers,” says RESCON president Richard Lyall. “Builders must make sure they have the proper worksite health and safety protocols in place to deal with opioid abuse and the appropriate tools available on site in the event of an unfortunate situation.”

The province is making the naloxone kits and training available at no cost through Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program. Click here to sign up for training or to receive a kit. Click here for a reference guide for employers published by the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association.

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