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Safe At Work Ontario


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

Enforcement is a critical tool in promoting compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. The Ministry of Labour inspectors conduct both proactive inspections and reactive investigations. A "proactive inspection" is an unannounced field visit to a workplace to ensure compliance with the Act and its regulations. A reactive investigation occurs when a workplace notifies the Ministry of Labour of a complaint, work refusal, critical injury or fatality.

Ministry of Labour Field Visits (Enforcement Consultations, Inspections, Investigations)

Bar graph comparing data for each fiscal year 2006-2007 to 2015-2016. The highest number of field visits was 101,275 in 2007-2008, and the lowest number was 70,604 in 2014-2015. Each bar is segmented to show the share of field visits that were reactive and proactive, with the greater number consistently being proactive. Refer to table below for complete data.
Ministry of Labour Field Visits
Year Reactive Proactive Data not available on a proactive / reactive basis Total
2006-07 22,609 68,120 n/a 90,729
2007-08 24,714 76,561 n/a 101,275
2008-09 25,430 68,389 n/a 93,819
2009-10 23,979 64,431 n/a 88,410
2010-11 28,881 55,385 n/a 84,266
2011-12 25,613 46,640 11,036 83,289
2012-13 30,521 47,843 n/a 78,364
2013-14 30,339 42,865 n/a 73,204
2014-15 29,296 41,308 n/a 70,604
2015-16 32,819 41,976 n/a 74,795

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems, 2006-07 to 2015-16.

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.

Proactive Enforcement Strategy

Through Safe At Work Ontario, the ministry provides direction for proactive inspections and develops annual enforcement plans for the industrial, construction, mining and health care sectors. Enforcement strategies are developed using a risk-based process that includes consulting with stakeholders and reviewing sector compliance history, injury and fatality rates and incidents, hazards inherent to the work, vulnerability of the workers, and type and age of the business. These strategies identify the enforcement focus for each sector for the year as well as for provincial and regional enforcement blitzes. Ministry inspectors use these strategies to determine the workplaces where they will conduct an unannounced proactive inspection. Sector strategies are posted on the Ministry of Labour website. The Safe At Work Ontario annual report, published by the ministry, provides information on the results of the ministry’s enforcement activities.

In 2015-16, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted 41,976 proactive field visits – up 1.6 percent from the previous year – and issued 84,101 orders for non-compliance including 4,319 stop work orders.[1]

Reactive Enforcement

The Ministry of Labour also investigates complaints, work refusals, critical injuries and fatalities reported to the Ministry of Labour.

In 2015-16, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted 32,819 reactive field visits – up 12 percent from the previous year – and issued 42,987 orders for non-compliance including 2,777 stop work orders.[2]

Consult with Stakeholders

Ongoing stakeholder engagement is critical to the Safe At Work Ontario strategy. Every year the ministry holds consultations to shape and improve its occupational health and safety compliance strategy and build closer partnerships with its stakeholders. These consultations helps the ministry understand workplace issues and respond quickly to changes in the workforce.

Industrial Program blitzes/initiatives and orders issued

Type of initiative Initiative name Field visits Workplaces visited Orders and requirements issued Stop work orders Orders and requirements per workplace visited Orders and requirements per field visit
Blitz New and young workers blitz 3,396 2,704 11,470 209 4.2 3.4
Blitz Material handling blitz 1,224 1,014 4,393 107 4.3 3.6
Blitz Safe operation of machinery blitz 1,315 1,023 4,853 125 4.7 3.7
Provincial Industrial Health and Safety Program new small business registrations and Internal Responsibility System initiative 3,101 2,414 8,807 89 3.6 2.8
Regional Building (Residential/Commercial) Property Management (Central East Region) 53 30 121 1 4.0 2.3
Regional Holistic Treatment Clinics (Central East Region) 119 70 95 0 1.4 0.8
Regional Farming Operations (Central West Region) 27 20 36 0 1.8 1.3
Regional Focused compliance of the Internal Responsibility System at workplaces with history of complaints, injuries, and prosecutions (Eastern Region) 55 50 177 7 3.5 3.2
Regional Forestry (Northern Region) 164 85 67 3 0.8 0.4
Regional Maintenance / shut downs / lockouts (Northern Region) 4 4 36 4 9.0 9.0
Regional Falls from ladders (Northern Region) 21 17 53 3 3.1 2.5
Regional Small manufacturing (Western Region) 141 117 601 9 5.1 4.3

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.


Construction Program blitzes/initiatives and orders issued

Type of initiative Initiative name Field visits Workplaces visited Orders and requirements issued Stop work orders Orders and requirements per workplace visited Orders and requirements per field visit
Blitz Struck by hazards blitz 1,494 1,313 3,056 261 2.3 2.1
Blitz Trenching hazards blitz 994 862 1,683 151 2.0 1.7
Blitz Heavy equipment operation blitz 1,128 967 2,321 201 2.4 2.1
Provincial Supervisory awareness of OHS and regulatory duties initiative 1,919 1,590 4,601 368 2.9 2.4
Provincial Worker safety on sloped roofs (underground economy/roofing) initiative 817 736 2,115 143 2.0 2.6
Provincial Worker material handling practices and ergonomic risks and controls initiative 1,947 1,589 4,193 297 2.6 2.1
Regional Housekeeping – Slips, Trips and Falls (Central East Region) 829 559 3,291 365 5.9 4.0
Regional Overloading of dump trucks (Central West Region) 5 5 2 0 0.4 0.4
Regional Falls from elevations (Central West Region) 239 200 757 62 3.2 3.8
Regional Failure to notify requirements under regulation for construction projects Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Eastern Region) 255 239 830 70 3.5 3.2
Regional Roll over protective structures (Northern Region) 18 18 24 1 1.3 1.3
Regional Electrical contact (Western Region) 459 392 922 65 2.4 2.0

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.


Health Care Program blitzes/initiatives and orders issued

Type of initiative Initiative name Field visits Workplaces visited Orders and requirements issued Stop work orders Orders and requirements per workplace visited Orders and requirements per field visit
Provincial Blitz Health care enforcement initiative 954 434 2,776 28 6.4 2.9
Regional Focused compliance of safety engineered medical devices at flu clinics (Eastern Region) 39 37 78 0 2.1 2.0

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.


Specialized Professional Services blitzes/initiatives and orders issued

Type of initiative Initiative name Field visits Workplaces visited Orders and requirements issued Stop work orders Orders and requirements per workplace visited Orders and requirements per field visit
Provincial Ergonomics initiative 361 266 451 16 1.7 1.3
Provincial Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 484 397 272 4 0.7 0.6
Provincial Radiation protection services proactive activities 426 383 782 7 2.0 1.8

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.


Mining Program blitzes/initiatives and orders issued

Type of initiative Initiative name Field visits Workplaces visited Orders and requirements issued Stop work orders Orders and requirements per workplace visited Orders and requirements per field visit
Blitz Mobile equipment traffic control measures in underground and surface mines blitz 99 85 274 21 3.2 2.8
Blitz Modular training in underground and surface mines blitz 78 67 192 16 2.9 2.5
Blitz Occupational disease blitz 59 39 149 9 3.8 2.5
Regional Focused compliance:  failure to notify Ministry of Labour of crushing activities at surface mining operations (Eastern Region) 59 46 160 11 3.5 2.7
Regional Point in time inspections (detailed inspections of the entire mine using a team approach involving mining inspectors, electrical mechanical inspectors, engineers and a regional program coordinator (Northern Region)) 47 4 301 13 75.3 6.4
Regional Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) audit of surface and underground mines (Northern Region) 4 3 28 2 9.3 7.0

Source: Ministry of Labour Data Systems

Note: Des not include all proactive enforcement activity.


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[1] [2] Ministry of Labour, 2016. Ministry of Labour Data Systems. Toronto: Ministry of Labour.