As we ended this year’s annual stakeholder consultations, I was reminded of the paramount role that our health and safety partners play in Safe At Work Ontario’s continued improvement and success.
Every year, the Ministry of Labour holds consultations to shape and improve our enforcement strategy, and to build closer partnerships with stakeholders. These sessions help us continue meeting the public’s needs. It’s also an opportunity to learn from our partners, obtain feedback on how the program is working, shore up support for new directions and identify areas for improvement.
In January and February, we again sought input from employers, labour representatives and specialists from industries and sectors across Ontario. This year, sessions were held in each of the ministry’s regions. We dedicated a session to small business in Toronto. A bilingual session was held in Ottawa. And we’ve made it easier for stakeholders and the public who were unable to attend the sessions to provide feedback.
This year, more than 140 people attended the consultations, more than double the number last year! Thank you for participating and providing us with valuable feedback. We’ve heard, for example, your calls for more guidance materials on compliance. Your comments continue to help us employ a strategy that fosters a strong health and safety culture.
During the consultations, we focused on our Safe At Work Ontario strategy in dealing with sector hazards. We addressed much of the feedback and recommendations that we received at last year’s consultations. We also discussed:
If you were unable to attend the consultations, be sure to read a summary of the presentation that we’ve posted on our website. You can send your comments to us through the comment box or by email at: SAWOConsultations@ontario.ca.
Continued engagement with our partners is vital to the success and improvement of workplace health and safety culture across Ontario. I look forward to working with you to ensure that our workplaces are as healthy and safe as possible.
Last month, our ministry announced it was appointing an interim prevention council to help improve workplace health and safety. This came after we accepted all the recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel’s extensive review of Ontario’s workplace health and safety system. We are working on the Panel’s priority recommendations – and in turn, helping to foster safer and healthier workplaces across our province.
The report’s recommendations include:
The full report is available on our website. These recommendations came as a result of comprehensive consultations with labour, business, and workplace health and safety organizations. As a ministry, we continually strive to improve the way we do things. The implementation of the Panel’s recommendations is part of a phased process that will bring real benefits to workplaces.
The interim council will help our province implement these key recommendations, including the hiring of a Chief Prevention Officer. I will also be attending its meetings to serve as a resource to council members in formulating their advice. The council is led by Paavo Kivisto, a former Deputy Minister of Labour and Assistant Deputy Minister of Operations Division.
The proposed amendments would also give the Minister of Labour oversight of the province’s Health and Safety Associations. The minister would also oversee workplace health and safety, education, training and promotion.
As we implement these recommendations, we must not lose sight of our number one goal: reducing injury and illnesses. We must stay the course, and ensure that our workplaces are healthy and safe for all Ontarians. Thank you, and let’s continue working together to help ensure that our loved ones are able to come home at the end of every workday.
The Ministry of Labour helps foster healthy and safe workplaces across Ontario by enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It also enforces the Employment Standards Act and its regulations, which set the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in most Ontario workplaces.
The ministry is now providing more resources – including a multilingual toll free number – to send a message to employees and employers: Know your employment rights and responsibilities.
On January 17, 2011, Ontario expanded its Employment Standards Information Centre (1-800-531-5551) to provide service in 23 languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese. The call centre allows Ontarians to ask experienced staff about employment standards, filing a claim and where to find more information. The ministry has also created online, interactive tools for employers and workers to calculate entitlement and obligations. These tools complement the ministry’s health and safety tools.
A new downloadable and printable high-resolution poster is now available in 23 languages. The poster helps Ontarians to understand their employment rights and responsibilities, directing them to the ministry’s multilingual resource portal at ontario.ca/employmentrights. This portal provides information in 23 languages on issues such as employment rights, filing a claim and how employees are protected.
The ministry has produced two videos that are available in multiple languages on employee rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and how to file a claim. The new resources complement the ministry’s efforts to modernize Ontario’s employment standards, including improvements that lead to faster resolution of claims that were implemented on January 19, 2011.
In 2010, the Ministry of Labour launched its Facebook page to connect with Ontarians. Through Facebook, the public can learn about new ministry initiatives, legislation and resources. It also allows the public to connect with helpful ministry staff.
The ministry is always seeking new ways to talk with its stakeholders and the public, whether through electronic newsletters or expanded phone services. Facebook is one of the social networks through which Ontarians can connect with the ministry that includes Twitter and YouTube.
The ministry’s Twitter page, @Ontminlabour, keeps subscribers up-to-date about ministry and workplace safety news, new tools and important messages from our stakeholders. Follow on Twitter, and get up-to-the-minute updates on the ministry’s health and safety, employment standards and labour relations initiatives.
Meanwhile, visitors can learn about workplace hazards, health and safety inspections, and their employment rights and responsibilities on the ministry’s YouTube page.
Social media are transforming the way citizens get their information. And they’re also changing the way they communicate with government. The ministry welcomes everyone to submit information and ideas; discuss health and safety, labour relations and employment standards issues; and comment on any new initiatives through all of these channels.
The ministry launched new health and safety-focused web tools in November 2010. These tools have been developed to raise awareness of common slips, trips and falls hazards at the workplace. One tool has been developed for each of the following sectors:
Employers and workers can use these interactive tools to help identify these common hazards and to provide preventative suggestions. The tools are easy to use.
A new loading dock hazard awareness poster with key points aimed at employers and workers is now available. The poster is available in English and French, and is set to be translated in multiple languages, from Spanish to Chinese.
The poster raises awareness of hazards leading to slips and falls for workers and employers. The employer’s duties regarding health and safety are also outlined.
In spring 2011, the ministry is continuing to provide online compliance resources by producing a Loading Dock Safety video, which highlights potential hazards at loading docks and in shipping and receiving areas. The video raises awareness of the hazards that inspectors may focus on during an inspection. It focuses on hazards associated with the flow of materials and goods in and out of workplaces.
Loading docks are found in most industrial sectors. But, they are often given a secondary focus by employers in terms of health and safety, e.g., in a manufacturing environment.
And, as a reminder, in October 2010 we posted a video about swing stage safety. In the video, a Ministry of Labour health and safety inspector explains what he looks for during a swing stage inspection.
Since 2008, we have conducted 25 inspection blitzes (as of March 2011) focusing on specific hazards across numerous industries.
Eleven blitzes have been conducted since April 1, 2010 – the beginning of the ministry’s fiscal year – targeting workplace health and safety hazards:
Nearly 17,000 orders and more than 1,000 stop-work orders were issued during our blitzes. Our inspectors visited more than 7,000 workplaces in 2010.
As part of the recent MSD blitz, the ministry is providing four guidance sheets on hazards associated with ladder use. This information provides more detailed ergonomic guidance to help reduce the risk of falls from ladders.
The ministry also provides blitz results after each blitz, outlining the blitz’s focus, the inspection activity, an analysis of the orders given and further steps.
Get your walking shoes on, leash your dog, gather your co-workers and round up the family! On May 1, more than 4,000 walkers will take to the trails when Threads of Life holds its annual Steps for Life five-kilometre walk.
The event is more than just a fabulous opportunity for a healthy walk with family and friends in 18 Ontario communities. It’s a poignant reminder of the importance of the work we do every day to prevent workplace tragedies. Ministry of Labour staff will be joining the walks in every community.
Along the walking path, you’ll see pictures and stories of victims of workplace trauma. Some of these victims suffered an occupational disease, some were critically injured. Others had lost their lives on the job. They will be young and old, male and female. They literally put a face to statistics. Most will be the faces of workplace injury victims in your community. You may have the honour of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims’ families.
Steps for Life raises funds for the charitable organization, Threads of Life. It consists of a network of volunteers who deliver important services to families of workplace injury victims. They fill a void that the ministry, WSIB and others are unable to fill during an injury investigation and the legal processes that often follow. Every Threads of Life volunteer is a family member who has “been there.” Their loved ones were victims of workplace trauma. Their families have been through “the system,” and can provide advice on what to expect, who to contact and, more important, provide one-on-one peer support. They are a friend at a very difficult, dark time.
Shirley Hickman lost her 21-year-old son, Tim, to a workplace accident in 1996. She formed Threads of Life in 2003 along with other parents who lost children to the workplace: Paul Kells, Rob Ellis, a ministry staff member, and representatives of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Besides support for families, Threads of Life also has a speakers’ bureau. It trains victims and their families to make public presentations to tell their stories and promote prevention.
One mother was determined to make a difference. Her one idea – support for families – has created a national organization, united families across the country, engaged governments and compensation boards, delivered much needed services and raised awareness that all accidents are preventable.
To get more information about the walk being held in your city – there are five new Ontario communities hosting walks this year – please visit the Steps for Life website.
Every April 28, we pay our respects to, and remember, the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of workrelated incidents.
We also honour the many families and friends who have been deeply affected by these tragedies.
Every worker has the right to return home safe at the end of each workday.
By working together – with employers, workers and our health and safety partners – we can prevent worker injuries and deaths before they occur.
On April 28, we reaffirm our commitment to making Ontario a safer place for workers so that no one ever suffers another workplace tragedy again.
Remember, we have one toll-free number to call to report a workplace health and safety incident, critical injury, fatality or work refusal. The public can also call this number if they suspect unsafe work practices or for general inquiries. The number operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week runs from May 1 until May 7, 2011.
Every year, health and safety advocates and organizations across North America mark NAOSH Week by promoting awareness of workplace health and safety through local, provincial and national events.
During this week, organizations can learn more about workplace health and safety by participating in or sponsoring health and safety events such as training sessions, contests and community events.
NAOSH Week is led by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), and Threads of Life, in concert with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and partners in Mexico.
Partners in Prevention Conference
Sault Ste. Marie, April 12-13
Delta Waterfront Hotel
Ministry of Labour will have several speakers at this event: Wayne De L’Orme, Murray Baker and Peter Augruso
Mining Health and Safety Conference
Sudbury, April 19-21
Holiday Inn, Sudbury
North Bay, May 5
Future Building Kingston
Kingston, March 29-30
Kingston Expo Centre
An interactive exhibition that provides young career seekers with the opportunity to experience hands-on activities in all areas of the construction sector.
Partners in Prevention Conference
Mississauga, May 17-18
Canada’s largest health and safety event, and the flagship of the Partners in Prevention Conference Series. Ministry of Labour will have a variety of speakers and a booth in the trade show.
Windsor, March 23
Holiday Inn Select, 8:30 - 4:00
London, March 25
Lamplighter Inn and Convention Centre, 8:30 - 4:00
Sarnia, March 31
Quality Inn, 8:30 - 4:00
Mississauga, March 31
Centre for Health & Safety Innovation, 8:30 - 4:00
Burlington, April 7
Holiday Inn, 8:30 - 4:00
Peterborough, April 14
Parkway Place, 8:30 - 4:00
Kingston, May 31
8:30 - 4:00
Ottawa, June 2
8:30 - 4:00
For more information on events, training and services, contact our health and safety system partners:
WSIB provides no-fault workers’ compensation and promotes workplace health and safety. For information about prevention, claims forms, health issues, return-to-work programs, and links to other health and safety organizations, visit the WSIB website at http://www.wsib.on.ca.
Call toll-free: 1-800-387-0750.
Health & Safety Ontario oversees four health and safety organizations dedicated to providing health and safety training and education to workers and employers.
OHCOW provides comprehensive occupational health services and information.
Toll-free: 1-877-817-0336 / http://www.ohcow.on.ca
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.
Toll-free: 1-888-869-7950 / http://www.whsc.on.ca