Monday, July 7, 2014

Did you know? - Health and Safety Training for Theatre Artists in Ontario

Under an expanded initiative by the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, all workers must take basic health and safety training. Including theatre artists of all stripes. Including employees and independent contractors. In short: including you.

Perhaps the easiest way to take the training is online, where it consists of roughly 45 minutes of videos, information pages, and short quizzes. There is also a paper-based version.

The response from many in the community has been about what you'd expect…
"What a waste of time!" 
"The material is boring."
"The questions are so simple, it would take an utter fool to get the answers wrong."
"I can see how this would apply in an office/factory/construction site/warehouse/etc., but it has nothing to do with me."
Well, it does.

In Ontario, there are three levels of responsibility for health and safety in the workplace.  (I suspect it is similar elsewhere, too.) Business owners have their layer of responsibility. Supervisors have their layer. And workers have theirs. And the law says that you have to know, understand, and live up to yours. In fact, you have had this responsibility for a very long time, whether you knew it or not.

So, if you've managed this long without the training, why should you bother now?

Well, you could learn something about health and safety in the workplace, and your rights and obligations. That wouldn't be so bad. You could learn something about how to recognize an unsafe situation and respond, and save yourself from injury. That wouldn't suck too much, either. You could learn how to save someone else from injury or illness. Probably worth a few minutes of your time, no?

But if learning stuff and staying safe just isn't your thing, then consider the following. One of the owner and supervisor responsibilities is to ensure that all of their workers (including you) have the requisite training, and failure to do so is a huge liability for them. If something goes awry, and an MOL inspector wants to see copies of all the training certificates, the last thing any theatre will want to discover is that they don't have them on file for everyone involved. And so you can expect that theatres will begin to require these as a condition of engagement.

How's that for a reason?

So, invest an hour of your life in acquiring some useful knowledge, and a skill certification. You're going to need to show that piece of paper sooner or later, so don't forget to save or print it at the end of the course. (You don't want to have to watch those videos twice, do you?)

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