Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Professional engineering safeguards employees and keeps costs down

May 14, 2013
By Marisa Sterling P.Eng

What is a reasonable investment to help keep workers safe in the workplace? Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) estimates that for less than $1,000 a year, industrial facilities in Ontario can take a proactive step toward improving workplace safety.

To improve workplace safety and increase cost efficiencies for business, the Ontario government undertook the important public policy initiative of harmonizing the Professional Engineers Act with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The government repealed section 12(3)(a) of the Professional Engineers Act, also known as the industrial or, more properly, the machinery exception.

With the repeal, employees must be licensed or supervised by a professional engineer to create safeguards relating to machinery or equipment. This modernization of Ontario’s legislation will become effective on Sept. 1, 2013.

The change will have no impact on an industrial facility in Ontario, or on its workers, if they are procuring or installing equipment, machinery, devices, structures or processes according to the original equipment manufacturer’s instructions, as this is not professional engineering work. The repeal will also have no impact on a facility or its workers in relation to routine maintenance as instructed or “same as” replacements.


There may be some impact on a facility or its workers who design unique equipment or modify purchased equipment, but only if the equipment is used in the company’s own facilities to make a product for the company. In that case, the company can:
1. Have an employee who is a professional engineer or holds a limited licence do the design work;
2. Have an employee who is a professional engineer supervise the unlicensed employee who does the design work; or
3. Hire a professional engineer to do the design work or oversee the unlicensed employee who does the design work.

If the equipment design or modification is not for the company’s own use, the repeal has no impact.

PEO is ready to help companies transition to the repeal. A one-year phase-in period between Sept. 1, 2013 and Sept. 1, 2014 has been established. A compliance tool kit, individual advice and licensing support are available from PEO, which is sharing this investment in workplace safety by waiving the licence application fee for those applying because of the repeal.

Having an engineer oversee professional engineering work on machinery or equipment design integrates health and safety at the design stage, a cost-effective step toward improving workplace safety and productivity. At an annual cost of $220 to hold a licence, it will cost less than $1,000 annually to implement the repeal and protect the public interest in the workplace.

Marisa Sterling, P.Eng., is PEO’s project lead for the repeal of the machinery exception. You can reach her at For more information, visit, and

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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