Naloxone Kit Requirements
The Naloxone Kit requirement has been passed into law effective June 1, 2023. The legislation was introduced under the Working for Workers Act 2022 (Act 2) and calls for any business employer that becomes aware of a risk of an opioid overdose in the workplace to provide naloxone kit(s) with employee training.
According to the Ontario Health & Safety Act (OHSA), all employers have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe. Employers should review the guidance provided and assess whether the new requirements apply. If so, employers must comply with these new requirements by June 1, 2023.
Provision and maintenance of naloxone kits
Every naloxone kit shall be used, stored and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
The contents of each naloxone kit must be kept in a hard case.
The contents of each naloxone kit must be for a single use and promptly replaced after such use.
The contents of each naloxone kit must not have expired.
The names and workplace locations of the workers who are in charge of the naloxone kit in the workplace and who have received the training shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the vicinity of the kit where their names and workplace locations are most likely to come to the attention of other workers
Contents of naloxone kits
For a nasal spray naloxone kit, two doses of intra-nasal spray, with each dose containing 4 mg/0.1 ml of naloxone hydrochloride, one rescue breathing barrier, and one pair of non-latex gloves.
For an injectable naloxone kit, two vials or two ampoules, with each vial or ampoule containing a 0.4 mg/1 ml dose of naloxone, for each ampoule included in the kit, one device to safely open the ampoule, such as a breaker, snapper or opener, two syringes, with each syringe attached to a 25 gauge safety-engineered needle that measures 1 inch in length, two alcohol swabs, one rescue breathing barrier, and one pair of non-latex gloves.
A business employer is required to designate and train employees (number of required employees is not specified in the OHSA) to ensure they understand the naloxone kit contents and can administer it on recognizing an opioid overdose. A trained employee should be in the workplace during each work shift.
1. Is the employer aware of the risk of a worker opioid overdose?
An employer may become aware of a risk of an opioid overdose if: (i) there has already been an overdose at the workplace; (ii) an employer observes opioid use, or discovers discarded drug paraphernalia, such as needles; (iii) the Joint Health and Safety Committee, the health and safety representative, a union representative, or human resources staff brings this risk to the employer’s attention; or the worker who uses opioids may voluntary disclose this risk to their employer.
2. Is the risk of a worker opioid overdose happening in the workplace where the worker performs work for the employer?
In order for the new requirements to apply, there must be a risk of a worker having an opioid overdose while at the workplace where the worker performs work for the employer.
The requirements do not apply if there is a risk of it happening outside of the workplace.
3. Is the risk posed by a worker who performs work for the employer?
The risk of overdose must be in relation to a worker who performs work for the employer.
“Worker” is defined in OHSA as a (i) person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation; (ii) a secondary school student who performs work or supplies services for no monetary compensation under a work experience program authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the student is enrolled; (iii) a person who performs work or supplies services for no monetary compensation under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology, university, private career college or other post-secondary institution; and (iv) other persons prescribed who perform work or supply services to an employer for no monetary compensation.
The requirements regarding naloxone kits do not apply where the risk of an opioid overdose is to a non-worker, such as a client, a patient, a member of the public, or to a non-worker.
In short, an employer must provide a naloxone kit where an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of the following scenarios: (i) there is a risk of a worker opioid overdose; (ii) there is a risk that the worker overdoses while in a workplace where they perform work for the employer; and (iii) the risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer. If all of these scenarios are present, an employer must comply with the OHSA requirement to provide naloxone in the workplace.
COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
As of July 1, 2022, the fines for a contravention of the OHSA by a person were increased to a maximum of $500,000 (previously $100,000). On conviction, directors or officers of a corporation who do not take reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complies with the OHSA and related orders are liable to a fine of not more than $1.5 million for a corporation or to imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or to both.
Ontario Providing Free Naloxone Kits in Workplaces
The Ontario government is launching a first-of-its-kind program to make free naloxone kits (and free training) available at workplaces where there is a risk of staff witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose.
For up to two years, Ontario will provide free nasal spray naloxone kits to businesses at risk of opioid overdoses through the Workplace Naloxone Program and free training needed to equip staff with the tools to respond to an opioid overdose.
Businesses can determine if they are eligible for the program and find additional information on accessing naloxone kits and training at Ontario.ca/workplacenaloxone. Once the requirement is in effect, Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development’s inspectors will take an education-first approach to enforcement.
Employers must provide a naloxone kit when an 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.
The risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer.
If any one of these scenarios are not present, an employer does not need to comply with the OHSA requirements to provide naloxone in the workplace.
The OHSA requirements do not apply to workplaces where the risk of an opioid overdose is created by a non-worker, such as a customer.
If there is no risk of a worker opioid overdose, an employer would not have to comply with the OHSA requirements.