FAQs: Alternate Rules for Plants

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates plants in Ontario and the Operating Engineers who manage, operate, and maintain them. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates plants in Ontario and the Operating Engineers who manage, operate, and maintain them.

Alternate Rules for Plants

  • What is the existing Operating Engineers Regulation?

    The existing Operating Engineers regulation, under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, is Ontario Regulation 219/01.

  • What are Operating Engineers Alternate Rules?

    The highlightTagMinister of Public and Business Service Delivery approved Alternate Rules for certain requirements of O. Reg 219/01, including plant staffing, certification time requirements and electronic logbook requirements.

    Alternate Rules offer a different approach to achieving safety compliance at Ontario’s plants, other than following the existing regulation.

    Alternate Rules facilitate a risk-based approach to the regulation, address qualifications for Operating Engineers and include two alternative paths for plant staffing and operation.

    They exist in parallel with the regulation – they do not replace the regulation.

  • Why were Alternate Rules developed?

    On its own, O. Reg 219/01 is applied based only on the installed power rating of a plant in kilowatts, regardless of other safety conditions or controls. 

    Alternate Rules address a growing industry and regulatory demands for a shift from prescriptive to risk-based regulation, while maintaining a robust safety regime.

  • How were Alternate Rules developed?

    In 2016, an expert panel was formed by the Ontario Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery (MPBSD) and TSSA to advise on alternative approaches to safety in power plants. The panel focused on modernizing the regulatory process to respond to technological innovations (e.g., automated controls) and establishing alternatives to maintain and enhance safety. A task group was subsequently established to develop a prescriptive risk ranking model and requirements for Risk and Safety Management Plans.

    In April 2019, the highlightTagTechnical Standards and Safety Act was amended to authorize TSSA to adopt Alternate Rules.

    Engagement on the development and implementation of alternative approaches (Path 1 and Path 2) occurred in 2019 and 2020.

  • Are Alternate Rules optional?

    Yes, Alternate Rules are optional. The Operating Engineers (OE) regulation is the core of Ontario’s regulatory framework.

    Existing plants are obligated to meet the requirements in the current Operating Engineers regulation.

    Plant owners and users have the option to explore operating their plants under alternate safety paths (Path 1 and Path 2) and may apply to TSSA to opt in to one of the alternate paths.

  • How can plant users opt in to be governed by the alternate rules?

    The first step for any plant user wanting to opt into Alternate Rules is completing the Application for Registration of a Plant (ARP, pdf) and the Plant Equipment List (PEL, xls). Submit both forms to operatingengineers@tssa.org for processing.

    The ARP provides basic information about a plant user (a person or persons in control of a plant as owner, lessee or otherwise, but does not include the operating engineers or operators who operate, control, or maintain the plant) as a first step to issuing a certificate of registration as per Section 5 of O. Reg 219/01.

    The PEL establishes and maintains an accurate record of all regulated equipment at the user’s registered plant. This exercise in ownership over the plant’s safety data is the crucial first step in demonstrating that a give plant user is truly holding themselves accountable for the safety of their plant(s).

    For Path 1 or Path 2 plants, PEL information is factored into the calculation of the plant’s inherent safety risk based on the equipment that exists on site.

  • How does TSSA regulate plants operating under Alternate Rules?

    There are three safety paths available, and TSSA regulates all of them. All three safety paths are monitored for safety compliance by TSSA.

    • Path 0 – Plants are managed in accordance with the requirements under O. Reg 219/01.
    • Path 1 – Plants are regulated and rated based on a risk calculation measured by several factors in addition to the plant rating that governs risk in Path 0.
    • Path 2 – Regulated plants implement Risk and Safety Management Plans customized for their specific sites that include additional risk management technologies and other processes developed by professional engineers and approved by TSSA.
  • What is Path 1?

    Path 1 measures the size, complexity, and safety risk of many factors in addition to a plant’s power rating, such as:

    • Technology type – boilers, refrigeration, steam prime movers and compression.
    • Plant configuration – design, operating environment, and process parameters.
    • Plant occupancy and type of exposure.


    These factors are used to calculate a risk rating for the plant, which is then used to determine appropriate staffing requirements (subject to the Chief Officer’s right to adjust the plant staffing requirements as necessary).

    Path 1 plants are subject to regular TSSA inspections.

    Helpful Path 1 resources

    For more details, read the Minister’s Order: OE Rules (pdf), or see FAQs: Alternate Rules for Plants.

  • What is Path 2?

    Path 2 of the alternate rules requires plant owners and users to customize a site-specific Risk and Safety Management Plans for TSSA review.

    The plan must be signed by a professional engineer and a senior person responsible for site safety.

    The plan must provide evidence to support the plant’s ability to maintain safety, based on an acceptable risk level.

    If the plant’s Risk and Safety Management Plan (RSMP) is approved by TSSA, the plant must maintain safety compliance records for review by TSSA.

    Path 2 plants are subject to regular TSSA inspections and audits of RSMP-related documents andrecords.

    Helpful Path 2 resources

    • Path 2 Risk and Safety Management Plan Development Guidelines (pdf)<

    For more details, read the Minister’s Order: OE Rules (pdf), or see FAQs: Alternate Rules for Plants.

  • What are the costs to apply to operate under Paths 1 and 2?

    To find out more about application fees, view the OE fee schedule (pdf).

  • How did TSSA develop the Path 1 risk methodology?

    TSSA worked with a special task force of industry experts known as the Operating Engineers Risk Task Group to develop the Path 1 methodology. The task group created the Path 1 framework (including the risk formula and the methodology) and presented its recommendation to TSSA’s Chief Officer in the summer of 2018.

    The framework was eventually accepted and endorsed by TSSA which tested the Path 1 methodology with sample plant inventory in Ontario to further refine the risk formula and various coefficients associated with different types of plant equipment.

  • How can I find out what my plant risk rating will be for Path 1?

    You can use TSSA’s Path 1 Self-Assessment Tool to obtain an estimate of your plant's risk score.

    Please note that use of the tool does not constitute a formal application to TSSA.

    For more information, please consult Path 1 Summary of Plant Rating Calculations (pdf).

  • What are the Path 1 application guidelines?

    The Path 1 Guidelines (pdf) highlight TSSA’s expectations for applying under this path.

  • What are the Path 2 Risk and Safety Management Plan development guidelines?

    The Path 2 Risk and Safety Management Plan Development Guidelines (pdf) provide resources to support the development of the Risk and Safety Management Plan (RSMP). They also detail TSSA’s expectations regarding the contents of the RSMP.

  • How long does the Alternate Rules application approval process take?

    The timespan of the application process may vary depending on the accuracy, completeness and complexity of the information provided to TSSA. TSSA will time the process as new applications come in and update this section with an average process time at a later date.

  • As an Engineering Firm or plant owner, how do I perform a risk assessment and develop a Risk Management Safety Plan?

    Please refer toCanadian Standards Association (CSA) Z767-17for process safety management code requirements. See also TSSA’s Risk Management Safety Plan development guidelines (pdf).