This part of the directive enhances and/or supplements Part II of the Code [], and Part II (Permanent Structures) [] and Part XVII (Safe Occupancy of the Workplace) [] of the COHSR and should be read in that context.

2.1 Workplace Occupancy

2.1.1 The requirements specified in the most current version of the National Fire Code of Canada [] shall be applied at every workplace occupied by employees.

2.1.2 The employer, in consultation with the appropriate occupational health and safety (OHS hereafter) committee, will ensure that workplaces, work stations and work processes meet the appropriate standard with respect to ergonomics. An ergonomic assessment shall be performed by a qualified person and any recommendations from that assessment, approved by the employer, shall be implemented in a timely manner.

However, if either the employer or the employee disagrees with any recommendation made by the qualified person, they shall submit the rationale for their disagreement to the other party, in writing, within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the recommendation.

2.1.3 Matters respecting office accommodation, particularly where occupancy of a new or renovated office accommodation is planned, shall be the subject of consultation between management and employees or employee representatives throughout the planning of the implementation process. Employees or employee representatives shall have access, for consultation, to a copy of the planned and retained floor plan.

2.2 Environmental Conditions

2.2.1 To the extent practicable, the environmental conditions to be maintained in office buildings shall conform to the requirements specified in the appropriate standard.

2.2.2 In office accommodation, air (dry bulb) temperatures during working hours should be maintained within the 20oC to 26oC range, which is the ideal temperature operating range. Temperatures between 17oC and 20oC and above 26oC can be uncomfortable, and occupancy should not exceed three hours daily, or 60 hours annually, in each of these extremes. Temperatures above 26oC are deemed to be uncomfortable when the humidex reading (Appendix A) at a given temperature equals 40 oC or less; more than 40 oC being considered dangerous.

Temperatures shall be measured at desk-top level in those spaces within work stations that would be occupied by employees while they are carrying out the major part of their normal duties.

  1. With regard to the uncomfortable range of temperatures described above, it is the responsibility of the employer to take appropriate action to ensure that environmental conditions do not subject employees to undue stress or discomfort. Any corrective measures shall be shared with the health and safety committee. If the employer has not resolved the problem adequately, an emergency meeting of the workplace committee shall be convened following a request by either party of the committee. Corrective measures to be considered include, among others, increasing the frequency of rest periods and temporarily relocating employees to work stations outside the affected area.
  2. An unsatisfactory condition is deemed to exist when the humidex reading exceeds 40 oC (Appendix A), or when the air temperature (dry bulb) falls below 17oC. In these cases, operations shall be stopped and employees shall be released from the workplace if relocation is not practicable. If instrumentation capable of accurately measuring the humidex is not practically available within one hour of a complaint being made, a temperature of 29oC or above shall be considered unsatisfactory.

2.2.3 For the purposes of paragraph 2.2.2, conditions shall not be intentionally permitted to enter the marginal zones of 17oC to 20oC and 26oC to 29oC. Such conditions should only result from occurrences over which employers have no direct control, such as weather extremes or equipment failures.

2.3 Hot surfaces

2.3.1 Steam and hot water pipes, heaters and any other hot surfaces having surface temperatures that could injure a person through bodily contact shall be guarded or covered in such a manner as to prevent such direct contact. Where asbestos lagging is used for insulation purposes, the requirements contained in the appropriate standard shall be followed and affected employees must be informed.

2.4 Open Top Bins, Hoppers, Vats and Pits

2.4.1 Where, due to the temporary removal of any cover, an opening is created into which persons may fall, barriers shall be securely placed around such openings to protect and warn persons of the hazard.

2.5 Ladders, Stairways and Ramps

2.5.1 Every ramp, walkway, platform or safety landing shall be fitted with railings and guards as recommended in the appropriate standard.

2.5.2 A fixed ladder that is more than 6 m in length shall be fixed with a cage, starting at 2 m above the base level of the ladder, in such a manner that it will catch an employee who loses his or her grip and falls backward, or sideways, off the ladder.

2.5.3 A fixed ladder that is more than 9 m in length shall have, at intervals of not more than 6 m, a landing or platform that:

  1. is at least 0.36 sq. m. in area; and
  2. is fitted with a guardrail at its outer edges.

2.5.4 A fixed ladder shall be:

  1. vertical;
  2. securely held in place at the top and bottom and at intermediate points not more than 3 m apart; and
  3. fitted with:
    1. rungs that are at least 15 cm from the wall and spaced at intervals not exceeding 30 cm; and
    2. side rails that extend not less than 90 cm above the landing or platform.

2.5.5 Every ramp shall have the minimum slope that is reasonable for the purpose for which it is used. In no case shall the gradient exceed:

  1. the safe gradient recommended by the manufacturer of mobile equipment used on the ramp; or
  2. such lesser gradient that is safe, having regard to the mechanical condition of mobile equipment used on the ramp, the weight of the loads transported and the condition of the ramp surface.

2.6 Housekeeping and Maintenance

2.6.1 Nothing shall be left or stored in any passageway, or travelled area, in a manner that may endanger the health and safety of persons, or the safe operation of vehicles moving through that passageway or area.

2.6.2 Where necessary, protection shall be provided from dangerous accumulations of ice that may fall from overhead structures.

2.6.3 Electrical power vaults, switch and generator rooms or enclosures, and other similarly dangerous areas shall be properly identified and kept locked, or otherwise made inaccessible except to authorized persons who are qualified to safely enter or perform work in such areas.

2.6.4 Every building shall be kept in such a state of repair and maintenance so as not to endanger the health and safety of any employee.

2.6.5 The employer shall notify all employees in advance of any planned interruption of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) in the workplace.

Appendix A

Office Accommodation - Humidex Table for Temperature and Relative Humidity Readings