Independent Operators

As an independent operator, you must follow the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations, just as larger companies do. In some ways, you need to be more aware of standard health and safety practices because you likely don't have a health and safety manager or supervisor planning and organizing the work for you. You are ultimately responsible for yourself. The information below will help you understand your responsibilities and will help you stay safe while working.

This information is intended to be a guide. All independent operators and employers must know and understand the occupational health and safety laws that govern their work. To ensure that you are compliant, review the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations.


Health and Safety Laws

It's important to know and understand Ontario's health and safety laws before you start work. The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and related regulations in Ontario. This legislation is designed to protect workers and employers and to help ensure that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.

Check out the Occupational Health and Safety Act web page and become familiar with the laws that relate to the type of work you do.


Training Requirements

Regulation 279/13: Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training under the OHSA requires an employer to ensure that all workers complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program. As an independent operator, you will be required to meet this requirement. The MLITSD offers a free Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps course, which can be completed by downloading a workbook and employer guide or by following the eLearning module:

While this course will satisfy the minimum legal requirement, you may wish to take more comprehensive training to protect yourself:


In addition to basic awareness training, you may require more specific training depending on the type of work you do and the type of hazards you may face. For example, a construction worker who may use a method of fall protection must complete an approved Working at Heights training course (O. Reg. 279/13, s.7).

To see what type of training you need, review IHSA’s Training Requirements Chart (W001). If your company operates under federal legislation, review IHSA’s CLC Training Requirements Chart (W008).

Once you've determined the training you need to be compliant with Ontario's laws, visit IHSA's Training page to register for courses. IHSA offers hundreds of training programs across the province, so you're sure to find what you need.



If you work with hazardous material, you need to complete training in the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS). IHSA offers this course in a classroom setting or online.


Health and Safety Policy and Program

Although it's not required by the OHSA unless you have more than five workers, it's good practice to have a written health and safety policy and a program to implement that policy (OHSA, s.25(2)(j)). Visit IHSA's Policy and Program Templates page for step-by-step instructions on developing an effective policy and program for your business.


Standard Operating Procedures

As part of your health and safety program, it is important to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs). These are written documents that provide detailed explanations of how a policy or a task will be implemented. To be effective, SOPs must communicate information such as who will perform a task, how it will be preformed, what materials are necessary, where the task will take place, etc. As the employer, it is your responsibility to develop SOPs.

By definition, SOPs are not generic. They depend on the nature of your work and on the equipment you use. They are also specific to your workplace or jobsite. With a good SOP, anyone who is qualified to do the work should be able to follow the step-by-step instructions and complete the task. The SOP provides structure and direction to help make sure that you get consistent results.

For sample SOPs that you can customize to suit your needs, visit IHSA’s Safe Work Practices /Safe Job Procedures web page.


Best Practices

Check out IHSA's Eight Best Practices for Independent Operators and Small Businesses.


Occupational Health

While it’s important to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities, it’s just as important to reduce the likelihood of developing occupational diseases, disorders, and illnesses. However, this is often overlooked. Don’t forget to visit IHSA's Occupational Health page, which hosts a wealth of resources related to preventing exposure to biological, chemical, and physical hazards.