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Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces: Measuring Our Progress

  • Issued: March 2017
  • Content last reviewed: March 2017

The integrated strategy, Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces, established six priorities for the occupational health and safety system (see below). The integrated strategy also identified performance measures for the system to use to evaluate its progress in addressing each priority. This section of the report includes available performance data and describes the initiatives undertaken in 2015-16 to address each priority.

Strategic Priorities

Goal: Target the Areas of Greatest Need

Priorities:

  1. Assist the most vulnerable workers
  2. Support occupational health and safety improvements in small business
  3. Address the highest hazards that result in workplace injuries, illnesses or fatalities

Goal: Enhance Service Delivery

Priorities:

  1. Integrate service delivery and systemwide planning
  2. Build collaborative partnerships
  3. Promote a culture of health and safety

3.1 Assist the Most Vulnerable Workers

Vulnerability in the workplace is more than just being exposed to hazards. According to a 2015 Institute for Work and Health study, workers become vulnerable when they are exposed to hazards and lack one or more types of protection, such as adequate workplace occupational health and safety policies and procedures, awareness of rights and responsibilities or the empowerment to participate in injury prevention. For example, when the Institute for Work and Health surveyed 1,835 workers in Ontario and British Columbia, the researchers found that workers born outside of Canada were 2.5 times more likely than their Canadian-born counterparts to lack awareness of occupational health and safety rights and responsibilities.[1] When the occupational health and safety system has a better understanding of the factors that contribute to vulnerability, it is better able to develop appropriate supports.

Strategic Goals

  • Understand the factors that make workers vulnerable and how to provide support.
  • Improve awareness of occupational health and safety rights and responsibilities among vulnerable workers.
  • Improve programs and services for vulnerable workers.
  • Improve occupational health and safety outcomes among industries with high proportions of vulnerable workers.

Performance Data

In 2015:[2]

  • Young workers (those aged 15 – 24) had:
    • 19,954 no lost-time injury claims
    • 6,478 lost-time injury claims
    • five traumatic fatality claims
    • no occupational disease fatality claims
  • Young workers accounted for 12.6 percent of all allowed lost-time injury claims from Schedule 1 and 2 employers, a decrease of 0.82% at an average annual rate since 2006.[3]

Protect Young Workers

Throughout the summer, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted a province-wide inspection blitz focused on protecting young workers, including 3,396 visits to 2,704 workplaces to ensure the required safety measures, equipment, training and supervision were in place to protect young workers. As a result of those visits, inspectors issued 11,470 orders including 209 stop work orders.[4]

"It's Your Job", the ministry’s province-wide online video contest, encouraged young workers to speak out about their workplace rights. The 2015-16 contest received 75 entries from 34 Ontario secondary school students – almost double the number from the previous year.[5] The contest theme, "Speak Up! Speak Out", created a platform for students to discuss how to talk to co-workers and employers about workplace health and safety without fear of embarrassment or reprisal.

Raagavi Ramenthiran

“Mental illnesses are often overlooked in the workplace, making youth who suffer from them less likely to voice their concerns. With this in mind, we set out to create a video to let other students know that they have rights in the workplace.”

—Raagavi Ramenthiran, member of First Place Team in Ontario.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board launched its #PracticeSafeWork photo contest on social media that encouraged young workers to share photos of examples of how they work safely at their job. The campaign received over 350 student entries, increased Twitter followers by 12 percent with over 5 million impressions, was liked by just under 7,000 people through Instagram posts and reached over 7.3 million users via Facebook.[6]

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board was also a platinum sponsor of Skills Ontario, a not-for-profit organization that promotes skilled trades, with a strong safe-work focus, including providing leadership for the Health and Safety Challenge which engaged over 2,000 young Ontarians in the health and safety competition and another 125,000 as part of the school outreach program.[7]

The Live Safe! Work Smart! website created by the Ministry of Labour provided classroom resources for teachers on health and safety for students from kindergarten to Grade 12, including quizzes, tests, newsletters, activities and interactive games. In 2015-16, the site received 28,024 user visits.[8]

In collaboration with Ontario Cooperative Education Association Public Services Health and Safety Association produced an Experiential Learning Health and Safety Placement Checklist to support educators in their efforts to ensure the well-being of students participating in cooperative education programs.

Prepare Newcomers and Migrant Workers for Work in Ontario

  • In 2014, 35,102 migrant workers in Ontario received a permit under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program.[9]
  • In 2015, Ontario had 195,800 newcomer workers (i.e. workers with fewer than five years in Canada).[10]

To reach newcomers and migrant workers, the occupational health and safety system collaborates with immigrant-serving organizations, ethno-cultural and professional associations, municipalities and the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade. The goal is to increase awareness of workplace rights and responsibilities and help these workers transition safely into Ontario workplaces.

With funding from the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants developed multilingual guides for migrant workers in the agricultural, caregiver, low and high-skilled and seasonal agricultural worker program streams. The guides provide information on worker occupational health and safety rights as well as other helpful information such as housing, legal rights and worker services in Ontario.

The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers provided workshops for migrant workers on key occupational health and safety issues. They also hosted the first Ontario Migrant Farm Worker Health Forum, engaging those working with and delivering services to migrant farm worker communities in developing practical solutions to safety problems. The forum was hosted in partnership with the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Association of Ontario Health Centres.

Nail salon technicians may be at higher risk of work-related diseases, including skin disease, respiratory illness, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, reproductive issues and infections. Compounds associated with these health problems (e.g. toluene, methyl methacrylate and volatile organic compounds) may be found in nail salons. A large proportion of Toronto nail technicians are immigrant women. The Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre and the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease, in collaboration with the Occupational Cancer Research Centre, conducted a needs assessment with Chinese immigrant women in the nail salon industry in central Toronto. The findings indicated that many women were most worried about chemical exposures related to hypersensitivity and pregnancy, musculoskeletal disorders related to ergonomics, and communicable diseases associated with cleanliness of equipment. They also had little to no workplace health and safety training, were concerned about keeping their job, had a strong sense of loyalty to the owner and considered adverse health symptoms a normal part of the job. The project has led to the development of multilingual education resources, training modules and workshops to support nail salon workers.

Address Workplace Violence and Harassment

  • In 2015–16, the Ministry of Labour call centre received 1,060 workplace harassment complaints out of a total of 13,481 complaints. The number of complaints has increased at an average annual rate of 4 percent since 2010–11.[11]
  • In 2015–16, the Ministry of Labour issued 4,756 orders related to workplace violence and harassment – or approximately 4 percent of all orders issued to workplaces.[12]
  • In 2015, injuries resulting from workplace violence and harassment accounted for 4.6 percent of all lost-time injuries and the number of injuries has increased at an average annual rate of 7 percent since 2006.[13]

On March 6, 2015, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the release of It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. The plan outlines concrete steps to help change attitudes, provide more supports for survivors, and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which came into effect September 8, 2016, enhance employer responsibilities related to workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. The Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment under the Act was developed to help employers comply with the law.

Violence and Harassment: Top Two Sectors for Allowed Lost-time Injury Claims (Schedule 1), All Allowed Claims (Schedule 2), and Share of All Allowed Claims (Schedule 1 and 2)

Bar and line graph that shows the number of violence and harassment injury claims rising over ten years, from 2006 to 2015. The percentage of lost-time injury claims that are violence and harassment related rises from 2.59% in 2006 to 4.57% in 2015. Each bar is segmented to show the share of claims for different WSIB categories. Refer to table below for complete data.
Violence and Harassment Claims
  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Health Care - Schedule 1 660 675 627 670 693 650 615 636 676 747
Services - Schedule 1 192 178 176 180 167 141 142 140 130 128
Other - Schedule 1 254 252 258 236 242 212 197 200 223 218
Schedule 2 1,051 1,048 1,053 999 1,109 1,079 1,040 1,100 1,161 1,263
Share of Total Lost-time Claims 2.59% 2.66% 2.70% 3.22% 3.67% 3.67% 3.59% 3.81% 4.08% 4.57%

Source: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board data, 2006 to 2015.

Note: Count of "Violence and harassment" equals Workplace Safety and Insurance Board data of "Assaults, violent acts, harassment and act of war or terrorism".

First Responders First

Ontario’s first responders are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious and debilitating condition associated with witnessing or being part of traumatic events, such as a terrible injury or violent fatality.

In 2015–16, the ministry launched a strategy – championed by the Minister of Labour – to help prevent or reduce the risk of PTSD among first responders. The strategy, which builds on discussions at the 2015 Summit on Work Related Traumatic Mental Stress, sets out four major initiatives:

  1. A radio and digital ad campaign to increase awareness about PTSD among first responders and their families and communities, and reduce the stigma that often prevents those in need from seeking help.
  2. An annual leadership summit hosted by the Minister of Labour to highlight best prevention practices, recognize leaders, and monitor progress in preventing PTSD and reducing its impact.
  3. Grants for research that supports PTSD prevention.
  4. A free online toolkit, #firstrespondersfirst, developed by the Public Services Health and Safety Association that provides resources tailored to meet the needs of employers of first responders. The resources include tools to help employers identify when a first responder might be experiencing PTSD and where to seek help. The toolkit highlights best practices for employers and the site will be a source for ongoing news and events related to PTSD and mental wellness.

The Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, 2016 amended Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 to establish a PTSD presumption for first responders: if a worker covered under the presumption is diagnosed with PTSD, the condition is presumed to be work-related and the worker’s claim will be accepted. The worker can now receive faster access to workers’ compensation benefits and appropriate medical treatment, thereby supporting positive recovery outcomes.

3.2 Support Occupational Health and Safety Improvements in Small Businesses

Small businesses – employers with fewer than 50 workers – contribute to Ontario’s economy in many ways. They diversify the economic landscape, drive innovation, create jobs and fuel growth. However, some small businesses struggle to provide safe and healthy workplaces, and their rates of injuries and fatalities reflect this gap. Their high injury rates are partly due to the fact that a significant number of small businesses are in industries with high hazards, such as forestry/logging and construction: 66 percent of all forestry and logging workers and 63 percent of all construction workers in Ontario are employed by small businesses.[14] Small businesses are a priority for the occupational health and safety system due to their combination of their high injury rates and unique characteristics that require tailored supports (i.e. limited expertise and time to dedicate to workplace health and safety).

Strategic Goals

  • Understand the workplace health and safety needs of small businesses.
  • Improve programs and services to meet the needs of small businesses.
  • Improve small business awareness of occupational health and safety requirements.
  • Increase small businesses understanding of the business case for occupational health and safety.

Small Business Share of Employment and Allowed Traumatic Fatalities Claims 2006 to 2015 (Schedule 1)

Infographic demonstrating that small businesses' share of traumatic fatalities is much greater than their share of employment: small business share of employment is 28.5%, while their share of traumatic fatalities is 63.5%.

Sources:

  • Traumatic Fatalities: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board data 2006 to 2015.
  • Employment Share: CANSIM table 282-0042.

Note: Infographic shows average percentage from 2006 to 2015 rounded to nearest decimal place.

Performance Data

In 2015:

  • Small businesses employed about 30 percent of Ontario workers [15] but they accounted for almost 51 percent of all fatalities.[16] From 2006 to 2015, small businesses accounted for 63.5 percent of all traumatic fatalities.[17]
  • Workplace Safety North, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and Public Services Health and Safety Association collectively engaged over 11,800 small businesses in their programs and services – up 57 percent from the previous year.[18]
  • Among Schedule 1 small business employers, the number of both lost-time injury and illness claims (12,721 in 2015) and no lost-time injury and illness claims (22,747 in 2015) have decreased at an average annual rate of 5 percent since 2006.[19]
  • In 2015–16, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board provided a total of $841,271 in rebates to small businesses that made occupational health and safety improvements in their workplaces.[20]

Understand the Health and Safety Needs of Small Businesses

A Small Business Task Group comprised of six worker and six employer representatives was established to provide advice to the ministry on small businesses. In 2016, the Small Business Task Group released a report with recommendations to improve outreach and awareness among small businesses in Ontario. The recommendations include creating a compliance tool, establishing recognition and reward programs, and developing sector-specific orientation guides and fact sheets for the agriculture, construction, transportation, health care and service sectors.

Improve Programs and Services to Meet the Needs of Small Businesses

In 2013, the Ministry of Labour launched a review of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s health and safety incentive programs, including the Small Business Health and Safety Program, Workwell and Safety Groups. The process was designed to seek feedback from labour, employers, representatives of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the public. The review’s recommendations included expanding the reach of health and safety programs to engage more small and medium employers and ensuring programming considers accessibility for small businesses. As a next step, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board will redesign voluntary health and safety programs to incorporate the recommendations.

Improve Small Business Awareness of Occupational Health and Safety Requirements

Many small businesses do not have the time and resources to participate in formal workplace safety training programs. Instead, they have asked for simple, straightforward tools to help them understand and comply with occupational health and safety requirements. In 2015-16 the Small Business Task Group recommended a compliance tool to enable all types of small businesses to quickly and easily understand their occupational health and safety requirements. In response, the ministry created a Health and Safety Checklist to help businesses assess their compliance with occupational health and safety requirements. The checklist, which is tailored to workplace size (i.e. 1-5, 6-19, 20+ workers) includes information on roles and responsibilities, reporting and records management, hazards in the workplace, and health and safety training. Before launching the checklist, the ministry worked with small business employers across the province to test it. The results:

  • 88 percent of participants found the tool useful and easy to understand.
  • 85 percent reported an increase in health and safety knowledge after using the checklist.[21]

To make it easy for Ontario’s small businesses to access the checklist as well as other important resources, a new link on the ServiceOntario Business Name Registration page takes employers directly to the Ministry of Labour small business webpage, which features tools to help employers understand and comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In 2015-16, the Ministry of Labour’s small business webpage received 13,366 hits.[22]

During the summer of 2015, Ministry of Labour summer students visited 1,343 small businesses to promote the Health and Safety Checklist, distributing 350 resources kits, which included the checklist.[23]

Strengthen Compliance in Small Businesses

As part of the ministry’s annual Safe At Work Ontario enforcement strategy, the ministry conducted a New Small Business Registrations and Internal Responsibility System Initiative. Inspectors visited 2,414 new small businesses in the industrial sector and issued 8,807 orders, including 89 stop work orders.[24] During the visits, inspectors checked whether small businesses were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations and had a functioning Internal Responsibility System. They also directed them to resources to help them comply.

The goals of the initiative were to: promote improved health and safety in new small businesses that had no prior contact with the ministry; encourage small business employers to identify and control hazards; address and remedy non-compliance identified during the visits; support vulnerable workers by raising awareness of worker rights; and raise awareness of the importance of the Internal Responsibility System and the availability of resources in the health and safety system. The initiative is being repeated in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Inspectors have also been given a Small Business Tool Kit of compliance assistance resources they can offer small businesses as needed.

To enhance workplace safety in small manufacturing businesses, the ministry partnered with the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium, an advocacy group for manufacturers in Ontario, on an initiative for small manufacturers in the Western Region. The initiative included a series of information sessions on: basic occupational health and safety awareness training, the Internal Responsibility System, the duties of a supervisor under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and machine guarding and lockout. In partnership with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, this initiative also featured a webinar on the Internal Responsibility System and workplace inspections for small manufacturers. As part of the program, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited 142 workplaces in the Western Region and issued 601 orders for non-compliance, including nine stop work orders.[25]

Increase Small Business Understanding of the Business Case for Occupational Health and Safety

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services recruits community volunteers who have expertise in health and safety and are committed to raising awareness and providing support in their communities, including with small businesses. In 2015, volunteers delivered 437 programs and presentations, and contributed 10,092 volunteer hours.[26] As part of the 19th annual Volunteer Health and Safety Recognition Program, the Workers Health and Safety Centre collaborated with local labour councils to recognize occupational health and safety volunteers and the crucial role they play in improving workplace health and safety.

Heidi Wagner

"I've been exposed to agriculture and health and safety my whole life. Volunteering with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services was a natural fit."

—Heidi Wagner, Good Neighbour Community Program Volunteer.

As part of the system’s commitment to increasing understanding of the importance of occupational health and safety, the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association ran a five-week radio campaign targeted to small businesses that resulted in businesses ordering over 11,000 hard copies and 130,167 downloads of a free Safety Talks manual.[27]

3.3 Address the Highest Hazards

A large portion of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities in Ontario in 2015 were due to a small number of causes: occupational exposures, working at heights, and work-related transportation and mobile equipment. In 2015-16, the ministry and its partners invested in training and regulatory initiatives to address these and other top causes of workplace injury, illness and fatality as well as other hazards that are becoming more prevalent in some sectors, such as workplace violence in health care.

Strategic Goals

  • Improve use of data and information and research to identify activities with the greatest risks.
  • Develop additional rigorous training standards for specific high hazard work.
  • Co-ordinate and focus resources on conditions of work with the highest rates of injury, illness and/or fatalities.

Performance Data

From 2006 to 2015, among Schedule 1 employers:

  • 68 percent of fatalities were related to occupational disease and 32 percent were traumatic fatalities.[28]
  • Traumatic and occupational disease fatality rates are highest in the construction sector – almost one-third of both traumatic fatalities (29.1 percent) and occupational disease fatalities (28.3 percent) occurred in the construction sector.[29]
  • About a quarter of traumatic fatalities (24.1 percent) occurred in the transportation sector.[30]

Traumatic Fatalities for Top Three Events and Other Events (Schedule 1 and 2, Year of Incident)

Bar graph comparing traumatic fatalities each year from 2009 to 2015. The highest number of traumatic fatalities was 103 in 2013, and the lowest number was 73 in 2015. The bars are segmented to show the share of fatalities by event category, with the two largest event categories in most years being Motor Vehicle Accidents and Other Events. Refer to table below for complete data.
Traumatic Fatalities
Year Falls from Heights Motor Vehicle Accidents Crushed by Other Events
2009 16 22 10 29
2010 20 24 6 35
2011 12 25 17 40
2012 9 37 9 24
2013 18 35 16 34
2014 8 26 3 43
2015 14 14 15 30

Source: Ministry of Labour. Provincial traumatic fatalities by year of death 2009 to 2015.

Notes:

  1. Provincial traumatic fatalities are not available prior to 2009.
  2. The motor vehicle accident fatalities reported in this analysis may include non-traffic accidents.

Top Two Sectors and All Sectors: Occupational Disease and Traumatic Fatality Rates (per million workers), Schedule 1

Line graph showing that the highest category of fatality each year over 10 years by rate is occupational disease fatalities in the construction sector, which peak at 208.69 per million workers in 2008. Since then, fatality rates for that category have tended to decline, down to 114.72 per million workers in 2015. The next highest categories are traumatic fatality rates in transportation which average 69.47 per million workers each year, and occupational disease fatality rates in manufacturing which average 28.48 per million workers each year. For complete data, refer to Table A and Table B below.

Table A: Occupational Disease Fatality Rates (Top Two Sectors and All Sectors)

Year Construction Manufacturing All Sectors: WSIB Schedule 1
2006 144.58 25.50 30.38
2007 111.67 31.02 32.00
2008 208.69 34.34 37.24
2009 198.74 25.52 37.13
2010 178.55 33.16 34.67
2011 130.36 31.66 33.42
2012 153.10 32.68 32.32
2013 114.73 21.47 28.43
2014 120.24 22.50 29.11
2015 114.72 26.97 28.31

Table B: Traumatic Fatality Rates (Top Two Sectors and All Sectors)

Year Construction Transportation All Sectors: WSIB Schedule 1
2006 105.50 81.02 17.70
2007 59.56 96.48 19.97
2008 49.52 81.60 14.60
2009 80.26 79.85 15.77
2010 71.42 70.48 15.71
2011 68.61 42.38 17.20
2012 45.60 45.38 15.10
2013 62.83 87.74 18.80
2014 62.74 66.96 14.44
2015 48.44 42.87 12.51

Sources:

  • Occupational disease fatalities: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) data, 2006 to 2015.
  • Traumatic fatalities: By the Numbers: 2015 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Statistical Report Schedule 1.
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Day of Mourning Fatalities Report: 2006 to 2015.

Notes:

  • Top sectors are based on share of fatalities over 10 years.
  • Rates are based on per million Workplace Safety and Insurance Board covered employment (year of death) and are calculated based on the number of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board allowed fatalities divided by Workplace Safety and Insurance Board covered employment by industry sectors.

Improve Safety for Workers at Heights

  • In 2015, 14 workers died and 3,182 were injured as a result of falls from heights.[31] [32]

Effective April 1, 2015, all workers on construction projects who may use certain methods of fall protection had to complete an approved working at heights training program. One year later, more than 106,000 workers had completed the Working at Heights training and 88 organizations had become approved training providers.[33] In 2015-16, the system expanded its reach and capacity to deliver training by using a wider range of training partners, including approved private training consultants, unions, trade schools, colleges, government bodies and many others. In a number of cases, the health and safety associations worked collaboratively with these partners to make worker training more efficient, available and accessible. For example, more than 60 percent of the workers trained by Infrastructure Health and Safety Association’s working at heights program where trained via one of their 357 industry training partners [34] and Workers Health and Safety Centre increased their roster of qualified worker instructors by 25 percent.[35]

In the coming year, the system partners will continue to build capacity, reaching out to more and more partners to ensure those who need the training receive it.

To promote the training, the ministry ran a radio and digital advertising campaign during peak construction season in Ontario. The campaign: encouraged employers to make sure workers complete the Working at Heights training; asked workers to use safe work practices when working at heights and to seek out training to stay safe on the job; and advised homeowners to ask contractors if their workers have been trained.

One of the greatest risks to worker safety – particularly in the construction sector – is the underground economy, where workers are often not trained or protected.

  • An estimated $40.9 billion of economic activity goes unreported annually each year in Canada.[36]
  • The largest sector in the underground economy is construction, which accounts for 28 percent of total underground economic value.[37]

In 2015, the Ministry of Labour, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Canada Revenue Agency, launched an awareness campaign to educate homeowners about hiring roofing contractors. The ads generated 32,695 visits to the Ministry of Labour’s website and around 4.3 million impressions (i.e. the number of times the website appeared via search function) through Google and Kijiji.[38] Infrastructure Health and Safety Association also developed and distributed a postcard to 70,000 households in Ontario asking them to ensure that the contractors they hire are registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and that workers have been trained to work at heights.[39] To complement the campaign, Ministry of Labour inspectors focused on additional after-hours and weekend inspections to residential sites where roofs were being repaired or replaced. The inspections resulted in 2,057 orders and 250 prosecutions.[40] The Ministry of Labour also partnered with the Canada Revenue Agency and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to perform parallel inspections. Based on the positive impact of this initiative, the Ministry of Labour will continue the pilot for two more years.

Improve Health and Safety in the Construction Sector

  • The construction sector, which has grown 20.7 percent in the past 10 years, employs nearly 8 percent of Ontario’s workforce, and has the highest share of traumatic and occupational disease fatalities of any industry sector.[41]
  • In 2015, there were 18 fatalities reported to the Ministry of Labour in the construction sector.[42]

In 2015, to break the cycle of fatalities in the construction sector, the Ministry of Labour began developing, with advice from an advisory group of employer and labour representatives, a construction health and safety action plan to promote occupational health and safety in the construction sector, with a particular emphasis on addressing hazards that can seriously injure or kill workers. The plan focuses on seven priorities:

  1. Collaborating with other enforcement authorities.
  2. Promoting a culture of safety among youth and young workers.
  3. Emphasizing effective supervision in the workplace.
  4. Extending our reach through health and safety social marketing campaigns.
  5. Increasing workplace participation and accountability.
  6. Enhancing health and safety training.
  7. Ensuring occupational health and safety laws are up-to-date and understood.

In 2015-16, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted three enforcement blitzes in the construction sector on struck-by hazards, trenching hazards and and the dangers of operating and working around heavy equipment and vehicles. These blitzes resulted in 3,616 field visits and 7,060 orders, including 613 stop work orders.[43]

To protect workers in the construction sector, the Ministry of Labour amended Ontario’s Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) to include new requirements related to the safe operation of rotary foundation drill rigs, including: new drill rig operator training; stronger and clearer provisions related to exposure to carbon monoxide and other fumes and gases released from internal combustion engines; and stronger fall protection measures.

Improve Health and Safety in the Mining Sector

  • 4 workers were killed in mining incidents in 2015.[44]

The final report of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review recommended actions to address key mining risks, including those associated with traffic control and occupational exposures. In 2015-16, ministry inspectors conducted three enforcement blitzes focused on traffic control measures, worker training requirements and occupational disease hazards in mines and mining plants. In total, they made 236 field visits and issued 615 orders, including 46 stop work orders.[45]

To improve safety for those working in remote communities where workplace health and safety education is not readily available, Workplace Safety North explored e-learning and distance education. The goal was to allow miners in these communities to improve their occupational health and safety knowledge and skills while networking and sharing best practices with miners in other remote communities.

Amendments to Ontario Regulation 854 (Mines and Mining Plants) strengthened the electrical requirements for working on energized equipment and the requirements for high visibility safety apparel. References to standards, legislation and terminology were updated and fees for rope testing by the ministry’s Material Testing Lab will gradually change. On January 1, 2017, new requirements will come into effect for risk assessments and traffic management programs, recording seismic activity and water management provisions, including new water management programs.

Prevent Occupational Disease

In 2015-16, the occupational health and safety system, in collaboration with a number of health and safety partners, began developing a plan to prevent workplace exposures to hazards, such as allergens and irritants, diesel exposures and noise that can lead to occupational diseases.

In October 2015, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers hosted a symposium – “Occ-tober” – to share the latest information on occupational health and disease prevention and enhance knowledge within the occupational health and safety system.

Amendments to Ontario Regulation 833, Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents removed the previous exemption for construction projects and enabled future codes of practice. Regulation 833 sets out the required measures and procedures to protect workers from hazardous exposures to biological or chemical agents encountered in the workplace (e.g. silica, lead) and establishes occupational exposure limits for over 725 substances.

  • Between 2006 and 2015, noise-induced hearing loss accounted for about one-quarter (23 percent) of all allowed occupational disease claims.[46]

A noise protection regulation (Ontario Regulation 381/15) now requires workplaces not previously covered by noise requirements in the industrial, mining and oil and gas-offshore regulations – such as construction projects, health care facilities, schools, fire services, farming operations and police services – to protect workers from exposure to noise.

To meet the training needs of worker representatives and of clients, the Workers Health and Safety Centre’s in-house worker program developers created and updated 14 of their 200 prevention programs targeted at health hazards, including programs addressing the hazards of propane and noise.

Prevent Workplace Violence in the Health Care Sector

  • In 2015-16, the Ministry of Labour call centre received 377 workplace violence complaints.[47]
  • From 2008-09 to 2015-16, the number of workplace violence complaints to the ministry has increased at an annual rate of 18 percent, while the number of ministry field visits related to workplace violence increased by an average annual rate of 11 percent, and the number of orders by an average annual rate of 42 percent.[48]

In 2015, the Government of Ontario established the Health Care Leadership Table to help protect health care workers on the job. Overseen by the Ministers of Labour and Health and Long-Term Care, the leadership table includes stakeholders, experts and patient advocates. Responsible for providing advice on how to reduce and prevent workplace violence for health care workers, the table is focusing first on how to prevent violence against nurses in hospitals, then on all hospital workers and the broader health care sector.

3.4 Integrate Service Delivery and Systemwide Planning

In advancing the integrated strategy, system partners are involved in more joint projects and the occupational health and safety system has become more cohesive. More collaboration means less duplication of services, greater ability to leverage partners’ connections and expertise, broader reach to workplace parties and a stronger system. In 2015-16, system partners focused on reviewing, streamlining and coordinating products and resources, such as supports for small businesses, to ensure greater consistency and impact. They identified a number of opportunities to optimize efforts and enhance services.

Strategic Goals

  • Improve client experience and access to services.
  • Clarify roles of system partners and the services they provide.
  • Strengthen system partners’ capacity to track their performance and be accountable.
  • Increase integrated planning among all system partners.

Improve Client Experience and Access to Services

The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers have been identifying and working to prevent work-related illnesses for over 25 years. To ensure more workers have access to these specialized occupational medical services, the seventh Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers clinic was opened in Ottawa on January 21, 2015. It will serve workers and workplaces in eastern Ontario.

Increase Integrated Planning Among all System Partners

Improve Screening for Occupational Exposures

Several years ago, the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease, took action to address the lack of effective screening and reporting of occupational exposure in Ontario. A research study was initiated that eventually included the Occupational Cancer Research Centre and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers as partners. The goal was to develop a basic screening tool that would "make the link" between a client's medical history and any work-related exposures. Not only would this allow doctors to identify potentially at risk workers and connect them with the appropriate treatment and management of the condition, but it could also identify workplace hazards that may be eliminated or controlled. The work began with a pilot study to review the files of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients from a lung cancer clinic to see whether they included a work history, which they did not. That finding led to a series of studies to test different ways, including both self and clinician administered tools, to collect work histories from cancer patients. In 2015-16, the research team started working with Cancer Care Ontario to use a simple questionnaire that focused specifically on asbestos exposure along with clear and simple criteria for clinicians to refer patients to occupational medicine experts to investigate cases. This integrated project illustrates how research can build the evidence for change.

Improve Occupational Health and Safety in the Agriculture Sector

Between 2006 and 2015, the lost-time injury rate in the agriculture sector declined at an average annual rate of 3.32 percent – from 2.61 per one hundred workers in 2006 to 1.88 in 2015. Over this same period, the lost-time injury rate among all Schedule 1 employers declined at an average annual rate of 8 percent – from 1.61 per hundred workers in 2006 to 0.85 in 2015.[49]

To improve occupational health and safety in the agriculture sector, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services brought together partners from across the occupational health and safety system, including research organizations and stakeholders. The result was an integrated action plan that took into account factors unique to the agriculture sector, including:

  • The agriculture/horticulture sector has a complex regulatory environment. Many employers, such as landscaping and other agricultural services that are involved in construction and industrial activities, must comply with more than just the regulation for farming operations (Ontario Regulation 414/05, Farming Operations, section 1).
  • There are a significant number of small family, lifestyle farms that employ part-time, temporary, seasonal or even full-time workers. These employers are sometimes unaware of workplace health and safety responsibilities, and do not know that they now fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.
  • Because many farms are located in small, remote communities and rely on word of mouth and community connections for information and referrals, it can be a challenge to get relevant occupational health and safety information into the hands of Ontario farmers.
  • The sector employs seasonal workers who may face a number of workplace hazards, including unfamiliar machinery, repetitive heavy lifting, and exposure to extreme/abrupt weather changes. These risks are often complicated by the workers’ lack of occupational health and safety awareness, cultural and linguistic differences, fear of reprisal and lack of Canadian networks.

The three-year plan sets out a number of activities to improve workplace health and safety awareness, knowledge, programs, enforcement and other supports for Ontario’s agriculture and horticulture workplaces.

3.5 Build Collaborative Partnerships

Through collaborative partnerships, the occupational health and safety system is finding effective ways to incorporate workplace health and safety into education and skills programs across the province, develop innovative projects with community and ethno-cultural organizations, and make other advances in creating safe and healthy Ontario workplaces. In 2015-16, the system took advantage of a number of inter-governmental partnerships to communicate the occupational health and safety message beyond traditional workplace communication channels. The health and safety associations also expanded their service network by collaborating with approved private training providers, apprenticeship programs and research organizations.

Strategic Goals

  • Use existing and new partnerships to reach a wider audience and promote system resources.
  • Partner with other ministries and levels of government to share intelligence and enhance enforcement efforts.
  • Increase engagement with partners within and outside the system.

Use Existing and New Partnerships to Raise Awareness of Distracted Driving

  • In 2015, 14 Ontario workers were killed in work-related motor vehicle incidents.[50]
  • About 16 percent of road fatalities involve distracted driving; every half hour one person in Ontario is injured in a distracted-driving collision and a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road.[51]
  • As part of the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, new legislation came into effect on September 1, 2015, increasing the penalties for distracted driving in Ontario.

Many of Ontario’s workers spend part of their work day on the road. Whether they are doing road maintenance, driving a vehicle or crossing a busy intersection, they are exposed to hazards associated with vehicles on roadways.

To raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and encourage safe driving practices on Ontario roads, a Promise to Focus on the Road campaign was launched at the Canadian National Exhibition. Sponsored and staffed by Employment and Social Development Canada, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Workplace Safety North, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Canadian Automobile Association, Toronto Police Service, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Transportation, the booth educated exhibition visitors about the dangers and penalties associated with distracted driving and provided safe driving tips and a Promise to Focus on the Road LED bracelet. To spread the word to their family and friend, visitors were encouraged to have a free souvenir photo taken and share it via social media using the hashtag #focusontheroad. Over 10,000 people visited the booth.[52]

Sgt. Brett Moore

“In 2015 we got together for the first time to collectively say that distracted driving is dangerous and very preventable”

—Sgt. Brett Moore, Toronto Police Services.

The Promise to Focus on the Road campaign received the Ministry of Transportation’s Road Safety Achievement Award for Partnerships. The award recognizes excellence in promoting road safety awareness in Ontario.

Partner with Other Ministries and Governments to Improve Health and Safety Compliance in Developmental Services

Workers who serve people with special needs often work alone with clients in remote areas and can be exposed to hazards associated with manually lifting and transferring clients as well as exposure to biological agents, infectious agents, workplace violence and workplace harassment. Workplaces employing these workers must comply with both Ministry of Community and Social Services and Ministry of Labour regulations. To improve health and safety in these workplaces, the Ministry of Labour, Public Services Health and Safety Association, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs collaborated to provide education, support and information for developmental service workers on the regulations of both ministries and the inspection process. An eLearning module provided as part of the initiative was downloaded 904 times, and participants reported that they had a better understanding of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In a follow-up questionnaire:

  • Over 94 percent of participants felt prepared for a Ministry of Labour inspection.
  • 100 percent understood the inspection process.
  • Over 94 percent said the inspector helped them understand the legislation.
  • 89.5 percent said the inspector was knowledgeable about their sector.[53]

Based on the success of this initiative, the Ministry of Community and Social Services provided funding to Public Services Health and Safety Association to develop an online, e-learning health and safety tool for the developmental services sector.

Engage Partners Within and Outside the System

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Employment and Social Development Canada, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Ministry of Transportation, Public Services Health and Safety Association and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services hosted an event to share information on what is required to comply with federal and provincial legislation on key health and safety issues. About 300 health and safety professionals attended. Workshop topics included: preventing workplace violence, mental health first aid and effectiveness of health and safety committees.[54]

For the third year, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association partnered with Gezhtoojig Employment and Training in Sudbury to provide Line Crew Ground Support training for Aboriginal youth. The program has a student employment rate of over 75 percent.[55]

Ron Sarazin

“This is probably one of the most successful training programs for aboriginal youth in Canada.”

—Ron Sarazin, Gezhtoojig Employment and Training.

The Radiation Safety Institute of Canada, in partnership with Public Services Health and Safety Association, developed radiation safety awareness training for health care, long-term care and emergency response work environments. This web-based series includes a number of educational resources that combine video and interactive e-learning. The free on-line training will help health care and long-term care workers and first responders manage their potential risk of radiation exposure.

3.6 Promote a Culture of Occupational Health and Safety

A health and safety culture should be an intrinsic part of every Ontario workplace and of our society at large. New Joint Health and Safety Committee training standards are expected to strengthen the Internal Responsibility System in workplaces across the province and reinforce that every single workplace party has a role to play in healthy and safe workplaces. In addition, in 2015-16, the occupational health and safety system used innovative campaigns and communication channels to reach beyond the workplace to promote a health and safety culture.

Strategic Goals

  • Understand society’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours related to occupational health and safety and how they have changed over time.
  • Nurture health and safety leaders and champions in the community and workplaces.
  • Ensure health and safety programs foster a culture of openness and inclusiveness – rather than blame and reprisals – in the reporting of hazards.
  • Foster social awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety and the Internal Responsibility System.

Performance Data

  • Health and safety associations responded to nearly 86,000 requests for information by phone or email – a 132 percent increase from 2014–15.[56]
  • The Ministry of Labour received 87,865 public enquiries through the contact centre and online feedback forms.[57]
  • The Office of the Worker Adviser received 906 new service requests related to occupational health and safety reprisals. As a result of these requests:
    • 665 workers received summary advice, information or referrals
    • 234 workers received in-depth consultations with a licensed lawyer or paralegal
    • 67 reprisal complaints that went to the Ontario Labour Relations Board were resolved and 62 of the 67 workers received monetary compensation and/or other benefits from employers.[58]
  • The Office of the Employer Adviser helped 59 employers with Occupational Health and Safety Act reprisal matters and 20 of the 59 received representation from the Office of the Employer Adviser at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.[59]

Improve Training for Joint Health and Safety Committees

Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) are the basis for a strong health and safety culture in Ontario workplaces. Workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers are required to have a JHSC with one certified worker member and one certified employer member. Their job is to champion health and safety in their workplaces. New certification training standards for JHSCs, developed with input from employers, labour and other partners, took effect on March 1, 2016. They include changes to improve the quality and consistency of training and ensure members’ health and safety knowledge is current. As of March 31, 2016, 13 providers had been approved to deliver the JHSC Part 1 Certification training under the new standards, 11 to deliver Part 2 and two to deliver refresher training.[60]

Assess the Ministry’s Health and Safety Awareness Training

Since 2014, every worker and supervisor in Ontario covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act has been required to take basic occupational health and safety awareness training. The training is designed to enhance their knowledge of basic rights and responsibilities as well as their awareness of basic workplace health and safety issues. In 2016, the Ministry of Labour surveyed 106 employers representing 90,325 workers and 16,193 supervisors who used the free ministry-developed resources.[61] The results:

  • 79 percent found the awareness e-learning modules “very useful” or “useful”.
  • 75 percent found the awareness e-learning modules “very easy” or “easy” to use.[62]

Shift to E-Learning

To make training more accessible and reduce both delivery costs and time spent in the classroom, Public Services Health and Safety Association updated a number of training programs to e-learning modules. As a result, the number of workers who completed the training increased by over 317 percent.[63] The Public Services Health and Safety Association is also providing expertise within and outside the occupational health and safety system to help convert traditional classroom training into effective interactive e-learning modules.

Organize Public Health and Safety Campaigns

System partners organized several campaigns to engage the public in creating a health and safety culture:

  • Infrastructure Health and Safety Association created a multi-stage public awareness campaign using the “Keep Your Promise” message. A series of four print advertisements appeared on Toronto Transit Commission buses and subways and on rink boards in community arenas across Ontario to remind workers why they work safe — for the sake of their loved ones and those who count on them. The campaign led to a 35 percent increase in traffic on the Association’s small business webpage.
  • Workers Health and Safety Centre supported over 50 Day of Mourning events organized by Ontario labour councils, each aimed at increasing awareness of the need for safer, healthier work. Their message of "One death is too many. One day is not enough." was communicated using a variety of media, such as brochures, dedicated web pages, fact sheets, e-bulletins and social media. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ran a four-week public awareness campaign and held a public event to honour those who have died, been injured or suffered illness in the workplace. As visual tributes, the 3D TORONTO sign in Nathan Phillips Square and the CN Tower were lit in yellow – traditionally the colour of hope – throughout the day and evening.
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders are the number one type of work-related lost-time injury reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in Ontario. Celebrated in October each year, Global Ergonomics Month promotes the importance of fitting the work environment to workers to prevent injuries associated with musculoskeletal disorders. This year’s events included a health care conference put on by the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders, a Moving from Pain to Prevention conference jointly hosted by the Workers Health and Safety Centre and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, two plenaries organized by the Institute for Work and Health and the launch of a new mobile application developed by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, with help from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – PainPoint – that delivers a very basic ergonomic assessment and helps individuals identify hazards and injuries.
  • In 2015, Workplace Safety North celebrated a century of safety at its forestry, pulp and paper health and safety centennial celebration in Thunder Bay with a conference featuring keynote speakers, workshop training sessions, industry networking, a trade show and safety awards banquet.

Focus on a Health and Safety Culture in Ontario Mines

Workplace Safety North organized the 66th annual Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Thunder Bay where seven teams from across Ontario took part in simulated underground emergencies to evaluate their knowledge, firefighting skills, first aid response, use of emergency equipment and decision-making ability under stress.

Support Injured Workers

On December 10, 2015, Ontario passed legislation that provided for amendments to three separate Acts, including the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 to prohibit employers from trying to prevent workers from reporting a workplace injury or illness to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Amendments including making the appointment of a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Fair Practices Commissioner a statutory requirement, increasing corporate penalties for the conviction of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 and providing greater fairness for survivors in cases of work-related death.

Assess the Health and Safety Culture

Workplace Safety North collaborated with the Institute for Work and Health and the Ontario Mining Association to develop a unique culture audit tool that helps employers understand the Internal Responsibility System and best practices to identify and control hazards. The Culture Assessment and Audit Tool is a proactive analytical tool that an organization can use to assess its systems and culture and create a 360-degree picture of the current state of its health and safety ecosystem.

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[1] Lay, A. Morgan, Ron Saunders, Marni Lifshen, Curtis Breslin, Anthony LaMontagne, Emile Tompa and Peter Smith. "Individual, occupational, and workplace correlates of occupational health and safety vulnerability in a sample of Canadian workers." American Journal of Industrial Medicine 59 (2016): 119-128.

[2] [46] Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. By the Numbers: 2015 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Statistical Report, Schedules 1 and 2. Accessed June 2016.

[3] [13] [16] [17] [19] [20] [49] Workplace Safety and Insurance Board database. Accessed September 2016. Data extracted by the Ministry of Labour. May not exactly match published WSIB data.

[4] Ministry of Labour. Results: New and Young Workers Blitz 2015. Last modified December 2015. Accessed September 2016.

[5] Ministry of Labour. It’s Your Job Video Contest Winners. Accessed September 2016.

[6] [7] Workplace Safety Insurance Board. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Contributions 2015 - 2016. Unpublished internal document, 2016.

[8] Ministry of Labour Live Safe! Work Smart! website analytics. Retrieved September 2016.

[9] Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Canada Facts and Figures Immigrant Overview Temporary Residents 2014. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2015. Table 3.6 Temporary Foreign Worker Program work permit holders by destination and sign year, 2005 to 2014. PDF accessed February 2016.

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[14] [15] Statistics Canada. Table 281-0042 - Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), employment for all employees, by enterprise size and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), annual (persons). CANSIM (database). Accessed March 2016.

[18] [56] Ministry of Labour. Health and Safety Association Year-end Reports to the Ministry of Labour 2015-16. Unpublished internal document, 2016.

[21] Ministry of Labour. The Health and Safety Checklist Pilot Feedback Summary 2015. Unpublished internal document, 2016.

[22] Ministry of Labour website analytics. Retrieved September 2016.

[23] Ministry of Labour. Summer Experience Programs Small Business Outreach Program. Unpublished internal document, 2015.

[26] Workplace Safety & Prevention Services. Good Neighbour Community Program, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services FMS Reports. Mississauga: Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, 2015.

[27] [34] [39] [55] Infrastructure Health and Safety Association. Infrastructure Health and Safety Association Program Statistics 2015-16. Unpublished internal document, 2016.

[28] Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Day of Mourning Fatalities Report: 2006 to 2015. Toronto: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, 2016.

[29] [30] [31] [50] Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. By the Numbers: 2015 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Statistical Report, Schedule 1. Accessed June 2016.

[32] Ministry of Labour program database. Accessed September 2016.

[33] Ministry of Labour Working at Heights database. Accessed September 2016.

[35] Workers Health and Safety Centre internal program statistics, provided September 2016.

[36] [37] Statistics Canada. The Underground Economy in Canada, 1992 to 2011. Last modified November 2015. Accessed September 2016.

[38] Treasury Board Secretariat. Behavioural Insights Pilot Project: Underground Economy: Roofing. Last modified March 2016. Accessed September 2016.

[43] Ministry of Labour. Blitz Results:

[45] Ministry of Labour. Blitz Results:

[51] Ministry of Transportation Ontario Collision Database. Accessed 2013.

[52] Ministry of Labour. Report on the System Partners Canadian National Exhibition Booth, 2015. Unpublished internal document, 2015.

[53] Ministry of Labour. Residential Services Facilities Initiative, Stakeholder Report. Unpublished internal document, 2015.

[54] Infrastructure Health & Safety Association. 2015 Annual Report (PDF). Mississauga: Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, 2016. PDF accessed September 2016.

[58] Office of the Worker Advisor Occupational Health and Safety Act Reprisal Program SharePoint Library. Accessed August 2016.

[59] Office of the Employer Advisor internal records, provided August 2016.

[60] Ministry of Labour Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification Database. Accessed September 2016.

[61] [62] Ministry of Labour. Health and Safety Awareness Training for Workers and Supervisors, Program Statistics. Unpublished internal document, 2016.

[63] Public Services Health and Safety Association internal records, provided September 2016.