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Health Care Initiative 2016-17

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: June 19, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: April 2015

A new enforcement initiative for the Health Care sector began July, 2014. All acute care hospitals will be inspected over three years, and some long-term care homes, retirement homes and community-based health care services will also be inspected. Both clinical and non-clinical areas will be examined.

The initiative will include an evaluation of the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) and compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation. The initiative will also address the five most serious occupational hazards in health care:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
  • Exposures to hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Contact with/struck by injuries
  • Workplace violence

The Ministry of Labour will continue to inspect for overall compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations, such as Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93) and the Regulations for Needle Safety (O. Reg. 474/07).

Internal responsibility system

The Occupational Health and Safety Act provides a foundation for the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) within every workplace. The IRS makes everyone responsible for workplace health and safety in a way that is appropriate to his or her role and function. However, employers have the greatest responsibility with respect to health and safety in the workplace.

Resources

The Internal Responsibility System – A Workplace Partnership

Ontario.ca/healthandsafetyatwork: guides, fact sheets, posters

Health Care Sector Plan

Public Services Health & Safety Association

Musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal injuries arising from client handling, manual materials handling, and other activities represented the largest percentage of lost-time injuries (LTIs) in the Health Care sector during 2012, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Employers must protect workers from Musculoskeletal disorder hazards. In consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (or Health and Safety Representative), employers must establish written measures and procedures to protect workers in accordance with sections 8 and 9 of Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93) if the regulation applies to that workplace.

Other sections of Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93) may also apply to the workplace and address issues such as manual material handling and equipment used for handling, lifting or moving materials.

For workplaces not covered by Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93), employers must take all precautions reasonable in the circumstance to protect their workers under clause 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Resources

Ontario.ca/MSD: guides, fact sheets, posters

Client Handling and Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Health Care Sector

Client Handling in Health Care (video)

Health Care Sector Plan

Public Services Health & Safety Association

Exposures to hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents

Hazardous biological and chemical agents associated with health care facilities include: infections and infectious diseases; mould; nuisance dust; asbestos; chemicals used for laboratory work, sterilizing, disinfecting and cleaning; hazardous drugs such as anaesthetic gases and antineoplastic drugs; and cryogenic gases.

Regulations for Needle Safety (O. Reg. 474/07) mandates the use of safety-engineered needles or needleless systems (rather than hollow-bore needles) to protect health care workers from needle-stick injuries in hospitals, long-term care homes, laboratories and specimen collection centres. Regulations for Needle Safety (O. Reg. 474/07) applies to any worker using a needle on a person for therapeutic, preventative, palliative, diagnostic or cosmetic purposes in any workplace to which the regulation applies.

Potentially hazardous physical agents include noise and X-rays. Exposure to these agents could occur during medical care and/or routine activities such as housekeeping and construction.

Resources

Ontario.ca/healthworkersafety: fact sheets, posters

Health Care Sector Plan

Occupational Health Hazards and Illnesses: publications, regulations, videos, links

Public Services Health & Safety Association

Slips, trips and falls

Slip, trips and falls accounted for 16% of all lost time injuries (LTIs) in the health care sector in 2012 (1,155 LTI claims). Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all employers must take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to protect workers, provide information and instruction, and to ensure that workers use or wear properly the required equipment.

To decrease potential for slip, trip and fall injuries, inspectors will focus on maintenance of work surfaces, general housekeeping, safe ladder use, etc., in accordance with sections 33 through 41 of the Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93).

Resources

Falls, Slips and Trips Hazards: guides, fact sheets, posters

Ontario.ca/healthworkersafety

Health Care Sector Plan

Public Services Health & Safety Association

"Contact-with object" and "struck-by object" injuries

"Contact-with-object" and "struck-by-object" injuries can involve issues such as material handling, machine guarding, lock-out and tag-out of equipment or machinery. Injuries to workers resulting from contact with, or being struck by, equipment, machinery, devices and other objects accounted for 9% of lost time injuries in 2012.

Employers are responsible for assessing the risk to workers and developing and implementing measures and procedures for their protection. Compliance with clause 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, requires workers to receive information, instruction and supervision regarding safe work practices and conditions.

Resources

Working with Machines, Tools and Equipment

Public Services Health & Safety Association

Workplace violence

Health care workers risk increased risk of exposure to workplace violence because of factors such as working in the community; working alone; providing direct care to clients, patients or residents with cognitive impairments; and working with the public. Violence accounted for 9% of all lost time injuries in the health care sector in 2012.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers must develop and implement workplace violence and harassment policies. Employers must also assess the risks of workplace violence, and take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from domestic violence that may enter the workplace. The duties of workplace parties specified in sections 25, 27 and 28 apply to workplace violence. The OHSA defines workplace violence and workplace harassment and specifies employer duties related to workplace violence and harassment.

For workplaces regulated by the Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93), there are specific requirements for consulting with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative; for more information, see sections 8 and 9 of the regulation.

Resources

Ontario.ca/WorkplaceViolence: guides, fact sheets, posters

Workplace Violence and Harassment: video

Public Services Health & Safety Association : workplace violence resources