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Consultation paper: Safe At Work Ontario

  • Issued: October 2018
  • Content last reviewed: October 2018


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.

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. Inspectors also investigate workplace health and safety incidents.

About the consultation

During the Safe At Work Ontario consultations that took place between January and March 2018, we asked stakeholders for input to: identify emerging hazards and risks, identify data and compliance resources and improve the effectiveness of our initiatives.

This year’s Safe At Work Ontario consultations will be taking place in October. We will be asking questions based on the earlier stakeholder feedback on:

  • the need to further engage with senior management
  • health and safety hazards related to changing work arrangements
  • the need to make it easier for businesses to comply

We will also ask for your input on occupational health and safety topics which we should focus on for our April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 initiatives.

The questions below will be discussed at the stakeholder consultations taking place in October 2018. Register for our consultations.

You are also welcome to send written feedback to Please send all feedback to the ministry by October 31, 2018.

Senior management

The employer, typically represented by senior management, has the greatest responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace and is required to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the internal responsibility system is established and functions successfully.

Consequently, we would like to explore opportunities to enhance engagement with senior managers and business owners.

Discussion questions

  1. What is your top recommendation for furthering our engagement with senior managers and business owners? What can stakeholders do to help facilitate this engagement?
  2. How does your organization or company keep managers, executives and business owners accountable for occupational health and safety issues? What best practices can you share?


We monitor new trends and hazards through a variety of sources, including stakeholder feedback. Depending on the circumstances, we may develop internal training, publish public hazard alerts or guidelines, or consider a regulatory change to address the new hazards.

For example, we recently released information on impairment and workplace health and safety as well as guides and resources on workplace violence in response to stakeholder feedback.

Discussion questions

  1. Stakeholders have consistently mentioned changing work arrangements as a priority that the ministry should focus on. What is your top challenge related to changing work arrangements, and how has your workplace or organization addressed hazards due to:
    1. workers working alone
    2. workers working remotely
    3. contract/piecework in industries where that traditionally didn’t exist
  2. Based on your experience, identify the top emerging occupational health and safety hazard within your sector. Is there anything your workplace is currently doing to control this hazard?

Open for business

We are committed to supporting workers, businesses and Ontario’s economy, and would like your suggestions to help businesses meet their health and safety obligations.

As part of our commitment, we asked employers if there are obstacles that make it difficult for them to comply with health and safety requirements during our January to March 2018 consultation.

One comment that came up is that many businesses already have excellent resources and practices that they would like to share with other workplaces. In response, we are asking for suggestions on how we can help facilitate the sharing of resources between businesses.

Another comment repeated across sectors was that there are a lot initiatives and regulations across different ministries that are unaligned, which makes it difficult for employers to comply. As a result, we are exploring collaboration opportunities with other ministries to align compliance requirements for businesses. For example, we partnered with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Consumer and Government Services on a campaign to raise awareness among homeowners on the risks of participating in the roofing underground economy.

Discussion questions

  1. How can we help businesses meet their obligations with workplace health and safety requirements and promote a stronger economy for all Ontarians?
  2. What initiatives would you like to see harmonized?
  3. Beyond the suggestions already given, what else is your organization doing that could benefit the rest of the sector in the province? How can we facilitate sharing that information?

Wrap-up question

  1. What have we or other government ministries done recently that has worked well and should be extended to other areas?

Questions by interactive poll

Please answer two questions to help us plan for next year’s health and safety initiatives by taking our survey.

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