On your screen is the first edition of Health & Safety At Work TODAY, the Ministry of Labour's health and safety newsletter.
Formerly Safe At Work Ontario TODAY, it's the same publication that you've come to know — now enhanced to include the ministry's new workplace injury prevention mandate. As you know, we are in a transition period. Earlier this year the prevention mandate was transferred from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board following the recommendations of the Dean Panel report.
We have been working with the newly formed Prevention Council over the past few months. The Council is well into discussions on priorities for an integrated occupational health and safety strategy. This year's consultation on strategic priorities will build on, and be integrated into, the annual ministry Safe At Work Ontario discussions to begin early in 2013.
We look forward to your participation in the consulation on the first-ever integrated strategy. The information we gather during these consultations will help direct prevention and enforcement actitivies so we can help make workplaces healthier and safer. We all know it's better to head off problems at the pass than to confront them when they become issues.
If you're not yet a subscriber, we encourage you to sign up. Four times a year, you'll get the latest news about our strategy for workplace injury prevention and for health and safety enforcement, reports on workplace inspection blitzes, information on new workplace health and safety "tools," and more — all delivered directly to your email inbox.
We hope you enjoy this inaugural issue of Health & Safety At Work TODAY.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations
Chief Prevention Officer/Associate Deputy Minister
Three branches comprise the new Prevention Office.
Winter 2012-13 promises to be busy for the Prevention Office at the Ministry of Labour.
The Ministry of Labour and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) continue to work together, on a range of projects, including the migration of Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Certification Training Program administration responsibilities to the ministry's Prevention Office and a review of prevention-based programs throughout 2013 (e.g. non-incentive or incentive).
The Prevention Office is currently working on a suite of health and safety awareness products:
The Prevention Council held its first meeting on September 28, 2012, and met again on December 4. Council members are focused on providing strategic level advice and to build on the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. Issues include, but are not limited to, vulnerable workers, supports for small business, the underground economy and "high hazard" sectors. Initial discussions focused on reaching out to these groups. The overall goal is to develop new networks within these communities.
Work is to begin soon with the Prevention Council on the development of an integrated occupational health and safety strategy for Ontario workplaces. You can expect an announcement in the coming months.
The ministry's Prevention Office is also developing a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy to expand existing relationships, develop a broader partnership base, and build a stronger network of interconnected relationships. The three key themes of the plan will be: enhanced assistance to vulnerable workers, improved penetration with small business and an integrated service delivery model encompassing the entire OHS system. Stakeholders will be widely consulted on this initiative.
Consultation task groups will provide advice on the occupational health and safety of vulnerable workers and will address the needs and interests of employers and workers in small businesses. You can expect an announcement in the near future.
The ministry will provide regular updates to you on the Prevention Office's progress on our shared goal of making Ontario's workplaces safer.
It's that time of the year: runny nose, nagging cough, annoying headache. But, it's also the time of year when the symptoms could be much more serious. From October to February, thousands of workers in Ontario become sick with flu viruses. Workers with the influenza virus who continue to work could potentially transmit the virus to others.
Workers have the right to work in a healthy and a safe environment. Employers have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to protect their workers from infectious diseases.
Health & Safety At Work TODAY sat down with the ministry's chief physician, Dr. Leon Genesove, to talk about influenza, its dangers to workers and how to prevent it.
It's always a good idea to protect workers from getting sick. When people are off sick, they're losing time from work. It disrupts work activities. And that's a loss of an individual in the workplace. If they're sick and away from work, the employer might have to replace the person. So there's a negative economic impact in addition to the social human impact from people getting influenza in the workplace.
The major difference with influenza, as opposed to colds, is you will usually have a high fever with influenza. There is usually a headache associated with influenza and sometimes it can be very severe, and you don't get that with a cold. And probably the most unique sign for influenza is that you can get severe muscle aches that one doesn't get with colds. And with influenza, the tiredness and fatigue is worse than with a cold. All other symptoms can be common between cold and influenza like runny nose, sneezing and sore throat – but the fever, headache, muscle aches are what identifies influenza.
It's mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. And sometimes from people handling common objects that someone with the flu has been handling.
Employers should encourage workers to stay healthy by promoting the yearly influenza vaccine and encouraging hand hygiene in the workplace and at home. And if people are sick with influenza they should stay home and not come to work.
In general for workplaces, employers should be providing education and training to workers on how to stay healthy at work before they get the flu. In large workplaces, it's very helpful to organize workplace flu shot clinics if possible, or to facilitate people to have their flu shots somehow and to encourage hand hygiene in the workplace by providing access to hand sanitizers.
In health care workplaces, more intensive programs have to be in place in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) to keep health care workplaces healthy so they can continue with delivering care to patients. These include a strong hand hygiene program, influenza and immunization programs and other measures and procedures that have to be in place to protect health care workers from an entire range of infections. Education and training programs are mandatory. The employer also has to provide personal protective equipment where required depending on the infectious disease of concern. There's also a requirement for consultation with the JHSC to get the front-line worker involved.
What's implemented has to be tailored to the particular workplace and the risk in that type of workplace. When a workplace deals with the public, there may be a higher risk than those who don't deal with public, so there has to be a specific evaluation of the risk. Measures and procedures should be in place to protect workers that are appropriate to the risk in that workplace.
The important things are hand hygiene, influenza immunization, and cough and sneeze etiquette. Just don't cough and sneeze on other people – cough and sneeze in your elbow. And stay home if you're sick!
Employees have rights under the Employment Standards Act in relation to unpaid leave or sick leave. Please visit the ministry's website for more information.
MOL's Health and Community Care:
Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation [O. Reg. 67/93 – Note that the requirements for reporting work-related illnesses in workplaces regulated can be found in subsection 5(5)].
Contact the Ministry of Labour's Health and Safety Contact Centre between 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday if you have any additional general questions about health and safety at 1-877-202-0008.
Reporting of critical injuries, fatalities, work refusals or suspected unsafe work conditions may be done by calling this number at any time.
As winter arrives in full swing, the days are shorter. The temperature drops. Vision is reduced. And surfaces become slipperier.
These are only some of the winter conditions that could pose as workplace hazards. Winter hazards can appear on any job – even in an office setting when workers could slip on a wet floor.
"The most common thing, and the thing easiest to fix, is slipping, tripping and falling and breaking your ankle in the parking lot," said Juanita Jenkin, a former Ministry of Labour inspector now working as a ministry health and safety policy advisor.
"Employers do have a responsibility to make sure that people can get to the front door of their offices safely."
Learn how to protect yourself and your workers from this – and other winter hazards – by taking certain precautions. Here are some safety tips and best practices:
Less light during the day presents physiological and environmental challenges. Our bodies struggle to maintain its circadian rhythm. As natural light decreases, we internally begin slowing down to prepare for sleep, and it becomes harder to maintain focus.
Workers should ensure they have adequate light to work, and adjust their sleeping patterns to coincide with the change in natural light. They should also ensure they receive enough rest each day. Employers can plan shift work at consistent times rather than shifting it throughout the day to help workers acclimatize. Adequate breaks can also reduce the risk of accidents caused by exhaustion.
The other challenge is environmental. Heavier clothing restricts movement and provides an additional chance for being caught on protruding hazards. Employers should plan their work zones carefully, remove protruding nails and cover exposed reinforcing steel (commonly known as rebar).
Wet conditions combined with darkness also increase the chance of slips and falls on a construction project. The accumulation of mud on work boots not only impedes walking, but can increase the likelihood of slips when using ladders. Workers can also become fatigued from the increased weight on their boots throughout the day.
All of these issues can be dealt with by preplanning, providing clean-up areas for workers, and ensuring access points are well lit and maintained in a slip-free environment.
Weather conditions can be unpredictable, placing extra demands on your vehicle and your driving skills. Ensure you are well prepared for winter roads.
"Be mindful of the winter warnings that come over the radio," said Jenkin. "If you know it's going to be a terribly horrible winter morning, give yourself extra time to get to work in the morning."
Always adjust your driving speed to existing conditions.
Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Winter driving – Be prepared, be safe!
Transport Canada – Winter Driving – You, your vehicle and winter driving
Read the Fall 2011 issue of Workplace Safety North's Every Worker Magazine
The "And Then There's Winter" article focuses on how to protect yourself from such hazards, from proper footwear to proper year-round and special winter housekeeping measures.
Icy conditions and lack of daylight could also lead to hazards in the health care sector during the winter.
"People should pay more attention to the surfaces they are walking on," Jenkin said. "And paying attention to footwear. Sometimes it's more appropriate to get out your rugged boots and treat winter with the respect that it deserves."
Jenkin added that employers should have a program in place through which workplaces are proactive about clearing slippery surfaces, and have a culture where staff can report any potential hazards and have them addressed immediately.
Here are some safety tips and best practices:
Icy conditions and lack of daylight could also lead to hazards in the mining sector during the winter.
Here are some safety tips and best practices:
Using improper body mechanics when shovelling snow can result in back injuries. These injuries may be a muscle strain, or could be a more serious herniated disc or disc degeneration.
When shovelling snow, remember to:
Most often, the incidents that lead to injury or death at a workplace are preventable or avoidable. That's why the Ministry of Labour's health and safety strategy takes a proactive approach.
Along with a focus on prevention, the Ministry of Labour conducts inspection blitzes in various sectors in workplaces across Ontario. The ministry identifies workplaces across all sectors and industries with poor injury records, hazardous work and a history of non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and with new or vulnerable workers.
This winter, Ontario will conduct three targeted safety blitzes at workplaces:
Underground Mining (ventilation hazards) – January and February 2013
Workplace Violence – February and March 2013
Slips, Trips and Falls (ladder safety and fall protection hazards) – February and March 2013
In January and February 2013, the ministry will conduct a blitz in underground mines, many of which operate diesel equipment.
The blitz will focus on recent amendments to the diesel provisions of Regulation 854 (Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants), which have been in force since January 1, 2012. These include changes to exposure limits and the requirements to perform routine testing of diesel-powered equipment for emissions.
The updated sections provide additional protection for underground miners from the hazards associated with airborne toxins found in diesel exhaust.
Inspectors will focus on:
This is the ministry's 11th mining blitz, and the second blitz focusing on ventilation hazards. The first ventilation blitz, held in November 2011, focused on violations of the OHSA and Regulation 854, and raised awareness of such hazards.
A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Employers, supervisors and workers all have roles to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, leading to the elimination of workplace injuries and deaths. Compliance to recent amendments to Regulation 854 requires a collaborative approach by all the workplace parties to develop testing methods and safe work procedures for the control of diesel emissions in underground mines.
Training and help for compliance is available to employers at health and safety associations such as Workplace Safety North (WSN).
Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading workplace lost-time injuries in Ontario. They can occur in any workplace, and every year cost the lives of nearly 10 workers and results in some 15,000 lost-time incidents.
In February and March 2013, Ministry of Labour construction and industrial inspectors will check on slips, trips and falls, ensuring workplace parties know their roles and responsibilities for workplace health and safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations that relate to fall prevention.
Inspectors will focus on:
Falls continue to be an issue in industrial workplaces. Industrial health and safety inspectors will look for hazards that can cause workers to slip, trip or fall. There will be a three-pronged approach, including: falls from heights; falls from ladders, mobile ladder stands and platforms; and same-level falls.
This is the ministry's fifth blitz on falls, and first blitz focusing on slips, trips and falls.
The ministry is partnering with the health and safety associations to ensure that workplace parties are prepared for the blitz by helping them to ramp up their fall prevention programs and vigilance on fall-related hazards. During visits, ministry inspectors will continue to refer workplace parties to the ministry's website – and those of the ministry's prevention partners – where resource materials and tools are available.
In Ontario, more than half a million people work at hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other workplaces in the health care sector.
Over the past decade, some of these locations have been the scene of violent incidents that have affected workers. Workplace violence and harassment can have serious consequences for workers and their families, including immeasurable emotional costs.
For employers, workplace violence and harassment can lead to worker absenteeism, lower productivity and increased costs.
Health care workers are potentially at risk from workplace violence. Employers have a responsibility to control hazards in the workplace, and these hazards may include violence and harassment.
In February and March 2013, the Ministry of Labour will conduct a blitz focusing on workplace violence in Ontario's health care sector.
The inspectors will focus on employer obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to:
This is the ministry's first blitz focusing solely on workplace violence.
We all share the goal of making Ontario's workplaces safe and healthy. Find out what you need to know about Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and your rights and duties in the workplace.
The Ministry of Labour has recently revised its:
The revised guides now reflect the most recent changes to the OHSA, resulting from the amendments from Bill 160, Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011.
These changes to the law represent the greatest revitalization of Ontario's workplace health and safety system in three decades, with the Ministry of Labour now responsible for the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses.
These two resources are free and available for you to view and download from the ministry's website.
These guides are not intended to replace the OHSA and the regulations. You should always refer to the official version of the legislation to determine your legal rights and duties.
But, if you read these guides, you might find the legislation easier to understand. The guides are now organized according to the sections of the act. For easier review, you can now find the relevant section numbers of the act directly in the guides.
The guides can help you in creating a healthy and safe workplace. Take advantage of these free resources by using them in your organization to raise awareness about workplace health and safety. Use them to help educate all workplace parties – employers, supervisors and workers – on their rights and duties under the OHSA and its regulations.
Check out these updated guides. Share this information with your co-workers or boss and help prevent an injury, illness or death at your workplace. Making Ontario a safer and healthier place in which to work – it's worth working for.
Next year, the ministry will develop a first-ever system-wide integrated occupational health and safety strategy for Ontario, as recommended by the Expert Advisory Panel Occupational Health and Safety ("Dean Panel") and as provided for in recent amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This integrated strategy will guide future Safe At Work Ontario initiatives and prevention activities undertaken by the ministry and the Health and Safety Associations, as well as other activities undertaken throughout the broader health and safety community. Consultations on the strategy will build on and be integrated into this year's Safe At Work Ontario consultations to be held early in 2013.
Stakeholder consultations are key to the ministry's strategies to align prevention and enforcement work in the future. Feedback on how we are doing are important, too, as are suggestions for improving our enforcement efforts. We welcome ideas for improving our overall strategy to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses across the province.
This year, we conducted 12 face-to-face sessions across the province and heard from more than 200 stakeholders who provided us with suggestions for workplace inspection blitzes, new fact sheets, videos and ideas for improving our enforcement efforts.
Next year, we plan to reach out to more stakeholders in cities where we have not yet held a consultation session. Also, we'll conduct an online webinar to hear from stakeholders who cannot meet with us in person.
If you would like to learn more about stakeholder consultation on the development of the integrated health and safety strategy and Safe At Work Ontario, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or SAWOConsultations@ontario.ca
The ministry has produced two new videos that show what inspectors look for during workplace health and safety inspections.
Traffic Control During Road Construction – Workers can be at risk when working near traffic. Watch the ministry's new video in which an inspector talks about how to safely control public and construction traffic when doing roadwork.
Client Handling in Health Care – Watch a ministry inspector and ergonomist talk about safety when moving patients in health care settings, including hospitals and long-term care facilities. The video illustrates what inspectors look for in relation to prevention of musculoskeletal disorders when handling patients.
This March, the ministry focused on high-risk construction trades with an inspection blitz. And in July, the ministry conducted a month-long inspection blitz of pits and quarries across Ontario. The results for these blitzes are now available.
Workers involved in high-rise formwork, low-rise formwork, masonry, siding and built-up roofing work are exposed to work and hazards that can result in death or severe, long-term injuries.
From March 1 to 31, 2012, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted a blitz of construction projects, focusing on health and safety in these five construction trades. Inspectors checked on compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
They checked for hazards that can lead to falls from heights, slips on debris-covered surfaces and other hazards.
Read the blitz results
In July 2012, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted a blitz of hazards involving mobile equipment and haulage at pits and quarries across Ontario. Inspectors checked on compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants.
Read the blitz results
Manufacturing: October, November
Infection Prevention and Control: October, November
Underground Mining: November, December
Construction: Struck by Objects
Mining: Pits and quarries
Construction: Tower and mobile cranes
Many regulations made under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act require compliance with standards published by CSA Group, a not-for-profit, membership-based association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace. Thanks to a pilot project funded in part by the Ontario government, you can read many of the relevant CSA standards before you buy. Registration to view the standards is required; however, you are under no obligation to purchase anything. CSA standards cited in Ontario's occupational health and safety regulations are available online for many sectors, including industry, health care, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction.
Subscribe to What's New, a monthly e-newsletter, featuring the latest ministry news on workplace health and safety, employment standards and labour relations. Keep up-to-date on ministry legislation, operations and resources – all directly from your email inbox.
April 30 - May 1, 2013, International Centre, Mississauga Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show is Canada's largest health and safety event and the flagship of the Partners in Prevention Conference Series.
Training and services for construction, electrical and utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation.
Training and services for: hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, residential and community care, universities and colleges, school boards, libraries and museums, municipalities, provincial government and agencies, police, fire and paramedics and First Nations.
Training and serves for (province wide): forestry, mining, smelters, refineries, paper, printing and converting.
Training and services for agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors.
Toll-free: 1-877-494-9777 | www.wsps.ca
OHCOW provides comprehensive occupational health services to workers concerned about work-related health conditions and to workers, unions and employers who need support to prevent these health conditions from developing. OHCOW services are free of charge.
As Ontario's designated health and safety training centre, the WHSC provides training for workers, their representatives and employers from every sector and region of the province.