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About Safe At Work Ontario

  • Issued: June 2008
  • Revised: October 2009
  • Content last reviewed: October 2009

Why We Need Safe At Work Ontario

The Government of Ontario and its workplace partners are committed to eliminating all workplace injuries. Workers have a right to come home each day to their families, safe and sound.

Safe At Work Ontario is the Ministry of Labour’s (MOL’s) compliance strategy, designed to:

  • improve the health and safety culture of workplaces,
  • reduce workplace injuries and illness,
  • lessen the burden on the health care system,
  • avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and
  • provide a level playing field for compliant companies.

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At Workplaces Across the Province

This strategy builds on the ministry’s 2004–05 ⁄ 2007–08 targeted compliance strategy, which focused mainly on workplaces with higher than average lost–time injury (LTI) rates and claim costs. Under Safe At Work Ontario, the ministry identifies and inspects workplaces according to a variety of factors.

The new identification criteria for workplaces to be inspected are (but are not limited to):

  • injury rates and associated costs,
  • compliance history,
  • hazards inherent to the work,
  • new businesses,
  • size of businesses,
  • specific events or incidents (e.g., critical injuries or fatal injuries, or injuries due to violence), and
  • the presence of new and⁄or vulnerable workers.

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How Injury Rates and Costs Are Determined

Injury rates and associated costs are determined by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board . WSIB data are run through an assessment that considers:

  • the growth of the firm’s workforce, to address issues related to new and vulnerable workers,
  • claims costs, as an indication of severity of injuries,
  • the health and safety trend of the firm over the previous three years, and
  • the previous year's LTI and non–lost–time (NLTI) injury rates.

Companies can access their confidential profile by contacting the WSIB. The health and safety information of a company is only one of the many factors that will identify a firm for an MOL inspection.

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Sector Plans

A fundamental component of this new direction is the development of annual sector–specific plans that provide the flexibility to focus on sector specific hazards and characteristics. The ministry has developed strategies for industrial, health care, construction and mining sectors which specify how the new selection criteria will be used. As a result of the selection criteria, the ministry will be visiting many workplaces that have not had an injury.

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Safe At Work Ontario Basics


Accidents and fatalities in the workplace are unacceptable. The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) has the responsibility and mandate to enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The ministry takes this responsibility very seriously. Under the Safe At Work Ontario strategy the ministry will be focusing its enforcement resources in areas where needed to enforce requirements under the OHSA through inspections, and as required, orders and charges under the act may be used where appropriate to enforce the law.


MOL seeks full compliance with the law by all workplaces subject to the OHSA. MOL seeks to achieve this through enforcement, cooperation, partnership and education of workplace parties to create a culture of prevention.


Overall, MOL believes that enhanced partnerships will lead to fewer injuries. The key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Employers, supervisors, workers, their health and safety associations and the government all have key roles to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, leading to the elimination of workplace injuries and deaths.

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Engaging Workplaces

The Ministry of Labour has a primary responsibility to ensure that workplaces comply with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and related legislation. This means ensuring that a strong IRS is in place.

Workplace Health and Safety Culture

A strong health and safety workplace culture consists of:

  • Competence (appropriate knowledge and training, systems for responding to events, properly functioning Joint Health and Safety Committee and other IRS components)
  • Commitment (demonstration by the employer of leadership on safety, appropriate policies and procedures to protect workers, low tolerance for poor health and safety practices, insistence upon full compliance), and
  • Capacity (adequate resources for preventing injuries, good system for obtaining assistance from HSAs and the WSIB)

A strong IRS can lead to a strong culture of health and safety. Strong leadership by senior executives and other managers sets the tone and establishes a corporate culture that nurtures the IRS. A health and safety culture requires all workplace parties to pay constant, appropriate attention to workplace health and safety.

A sustainable workplace health and safety culture needs a strong commitment by all the workplace parties to prevent injuries and illness and to reduce risk, because workplace safety is EVERYONE’S business.

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