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Safe At Work Ontario Consultation 2018-19

  • Issued: January 16, 2018
  • Content last reviewed: January 2018

Background

The goal of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations is to keep workers safe and healthy. The act sets out the health and safety requirements for workplaces across Ontario. 

Ontario’s workplaces have become safer in the last 10[1] years due in part to a strong enforcement system that corrects safety issues before they become a problem and takes steps if an injury occurs. 

Safe At Work Ontario is the Ministry of Labour’s compliance strategy that helps promote safe and healthy workplace practices. The ministry’s occupational health and safety inspectors visit workplaces to provide information and inspect them for compliance with health and safety legislation. When a workplace is not complying with a requirement of the OHSA and its regulations, the inspector can issue an order and the employer must correct the problem. If the problem poses an immediate threat to worker health and safety, the inspector will stop work until the problem is corrected. Inspectors also investigate workplace health and safety incidents.

About the consultation

Every year, the ministry reaches out to stakeholders to gather information for its strategic planning processes. We would like to hear from you to help us better understand Ontario workplaces.

Specifically, the ministry would like your input to:

  • identify emerging hazards and risks in your sector
  • identify data and compliance resources that would be useful to you
  • improve the effectiveness of our enforcement campaigns

How to participate

The questions will be discussed at the stakeholder consultations taking place across the province in January and February 2018. To register for the consultations, please visit Eventbrite.

You are also welcome to send written feedback to SAWOConsultations@ontario.ca.

Note: At the industrial sector consultation sessions, the ministry will also seek your feedback on requirements in Regulation 851 (Industrial Establishments), to inform any future amendments.

Risks and hazards

Risk is the chance that a person will be harmed or experience an adverse health effect if exposed to a hazard[2]. It also takes severity of harm into account if people were to be exposed to the hazard.

In contrast, a hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone under certain conditions at work.

The ministry encourages workplaces to take a risk-based approach to improve occupational health and safety. A risk-based approach is a structured and systematic process that allows for the identification, analysis, mitigation and monitoring of hazards in the workplace. This includes strategies (e.g. enforcement, policy, training, control design) designed to reduce injuries and illness from occurring in the workplace.

Resource

Discussion questions

  1. How do you (or a typical workplace in your sector) identify workplace hazards and risk factors and manage risk?
  2. Based on your experience and within your sector, what emerging hazards and risk factors should employers and the ministry focus on in the future?

Data and information

The ministry provides a variety of materials on its website to help employers and workers make workplaces safer. New publications are usually announced through our e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.

The ministry frequently provides guidelines to help employers and workers. A guideline is a general rule, principle or piece of advice that provides clarification about an issue addressed in the law. Guidelines, along with guides, are not formally referenced in the OHSA and its regulations, and do not constitute formal legal advice.

Examples:

The ministry has published a code of practice to address workplace harassment requirements under the OHSA. A code of practice provides detailed information on how to comply with the law, and often promotes an industry’s best practice and safety standards.

One way employers can meet legal requirements is through complying with a code of practice approved by the ministry.

Example:

In addition to guidance materials, the ministry also reports on events and enforcement activities (e.g. number of field visits conducted, types of orders issued, common sections orders are issued under for blitzes and initiatives).

Example:

As the ministry invests significant resources on developing the above resources, the ministry would like to get your feedback on the information you would like to have, and the best way to present and deliver that information.

Discussion questions

  1. If the ministry were to develop information in the form of guidelines or codes of practice for your sector, which topics should the ministry address?
  2. Other than guidelines and code of practices:
    1. What other type of information (including data) would you find useful?
    2. What would you use this information for?
    3. How would you like to receive this information? 

Enforcement campaigns

As part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, the ministry holds blitzes and initiatives that target hazards and issues specific to different sectors. To identify the hazards and the sectors we target, the ministry uses a risk-based process that takes into account advice from stakeholders, injury and fatality rates and incidents, the nature of the work (i.e. inherent hazards), field intelligence, the vulnerability of the workers and the sector’s compliance history.

Details about what inspectors look for are outlined in sector-specific enforcement plans.

Blitzes and initiatives are announced in a blitz schedule. All blitz activities, along with support material for employers, such as posters and fact sheets, are posted on the ministry’s website in advance. For many blitzes, the ministry partners with health and safety associations to deliver webinars to explain what the ministry will be looking for.

Additionally, the ministry may also conduct local initiatives to raise awareness of and help address health and safety issues that are specific to particular geographic areas of Ontario and/or have a higher rate of occurrence than the rest of the province.

The ministry would like to know more about how it can improve its enforcement efforts and encourage employers to comply with occupational health and safety requirements.

Note: In order to complement the ministry’s prevention system priority-setting process, blitzes and initiatives are often planned months in advance. As a result, stakeholders may not see their feedback immediately reflected in the 2018-19 list of blitzes/initiatives. However, the feedback is taken into account during strategic planning over the next few years.

Resources

Discussion questions

  1. What are the top three ways that the ministry can collaborate with stakeholders to facilitate an effective delivery of enforcement campaigns?
  2. What are the top three obstacles that make it difficult for employers to comply with occupational health and safety requirements?
  3. What are the top three items that the ministry should focus on that will support your own efforts to improve health and safety? Note that the ministry would like to focus on changes that can be enacted relatively quickly; as such, legislative and regulatory changes are outside the scope of this question.
  4. How else can worker safety be facilitated through prevention and enforcement?

Hazard-specific

Note: The following questions will be asked at consultations where the hazard is a key concern in that sector.

Falls

Fall hazards continue to be the primary cause of traumatic critical injuries and deaths of workers at construction sites in Ontario. Previous blitzes and initiatives have addressed related concerns such as:

  • the appropriate use of fall protection equipment
  • roofing activities
  • ladder and scaffold use and maintenance
  • protective devices (e.g. guardrails)
  • poor work practices

Discussion questions

  1. What else could we do to improve compliance with fall protection laws?
  2. What kind of fall hazard tools (e.g. risk assessments) would be useful?

Workplace violence

Workplace violence continues to be a priority for the ministry, and the ministry would like your feedback to inform future enforcement planning.

Beyond these consultations, the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table will continue to bring stakeholders and experts together to advise on reducing and preventing workplace violence for health care professionals.

Discussion question

  1. Based on your experience and within your sector, what are the workplace violence issues/topics/hazards that the ministry should focus on in the future?

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