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Interim Report: Health Care Enforcement Initiative

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: March 26, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: March 2015

The Ministry of Labour is conducting a three-year enforcement initiative to promote health and safety in Ontario’s health care sector.

All acute care hospitals are being inspected, along with some long-term care homes, retirement homes, group homes and community-based health care services. Clinical and non-clinical areas are also being reviewed. Inspections began in July 2014.

Inspectors are checking on compliance with the

The initiative is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario enforcement strategy. Initiatives are announced by the ministry to the sector in advance although individual workplaces are not notified in advance.

Enforcement initiatives raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations. Inspectors' findings may impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Enforcement focus

This initiative includes an evaluation of:

The initiative also addresses the five most serious hazards in health care workplaces:

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • exposure to hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents
  • slips, trips and falls
  • worker contact with objects and/or being struck by objects
  • workplace violence

Inspection activity

This report provides a summary of the first four months of inspection activity.

Between July 1 and October 31, 2014, ministry inspectors conducted 239 visits to164 health care sector workplaces. Some workplaces were visited several times.

Inspectors issued 562 orders for non-compliance of the OHSA and its regulations, including four stop work orders.

On average, 2.4 orders were issued per visit. This amounted to 3.4 orders per workplace.

As of January 27, 2015, more than 92 per cent of these orders were complied with.

Table 1: Overall Activity – July 1 to October 31, 2014
Program Activities Number
Total proactive field visits 239
Total workplaces visited 164
Orders (all types) [1] 562
Stop work orders 4
Requirements 3.37
Orders per visit 2.4
Orders per workplace visited 3.4
[1] Orders (all types) includes stop work orders and requirements

Table 2: Most frequently issued orders under the OHSA: July 1 to October 31, 2014
Reason for Order Number of orders Percentage of total orders
Employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for worker protection [OHSA S. 25(2)(h)] 69 12.3%
Employer to ensure its equipment, materials and protective devices are maintained in good condition [OHSA S. 25(1)(b)] 48 8.5%
Employer to assess workplace violence risk that may arise from nature of workplace, type of work or work conditions [OHSA S. 32.0.3(1)] 25 4.5%

Table 3: Most frequently issued orders under the Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation: July 1 to October 31, 2014
Reason for Order Number of orders Percentage of total orders
Employer to undertake measures and procedures for worker health and safety in consultation with workplace’s Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative, if any [Health Care Regulation S. 8 and 9] 57 10.1%
Materials, articles or things to be safely handled, placed, transported, stored, and disposed of [Health Care Regulation S. 103] 36 6.4%
Work surfaces to be kept free of obstructions, hazards, cracks, holes, bumps, slippery finishes and accumulations of refuse, snow and ice. Hazardous conditions must be reported by workers to their supervisor for remediation [Health Care Regulation S. 33] 29 5.1%

Ebola preparedness inspection activity

The ministry is focusing on improving workplace health and safety practices through education, training, and enforcement of provincial legislation and regulations. In health care, this includes protecting health care workers from potential exposure to Ebola Virus Disease.

Ministry inspectors are proactively inspecting hospitals and other health care workplaces across Ontario, focusing on Ebola preparedness. They are reviewing measures and procedures for infection control, worker training and personal protective equipment. Inspectors are also conducting reactive investigations in response to complaints.

Table 4: Hospital Ebola Preparedness Inspection Activity: July 1 to October 31, 2014
Total hospital visits Total hospitals visited Orders Orders per visit Orders per hospital visited
123 72 150 1.2 2.1

Table 5: Other Health Care Workplaces Ebola Preparedness Activity: August 1 – November 25, 2014
Total visits Total workplaces visited Orders Orders per visit Orders per workplace visited
5 3 1 0.2 0.3

To monitor and respond to Ebola preparedness, the Ministry of Labour is working closely with:

Health care webinars

On June 25, 2014, the Ministry of Labour delivered a webinar on the health care enforcement Initiative in partnership with the Public Services Health & Safety Association.

The ministry provided the following information during the webinar:

  • an overview of the 2014-2015 Health Care Sector Plan, including major hazards and inspection focus
  • an overview of the Health Care Enforcement Initiative, including major hazards and inspection focus
  • information on resources to assist workplace parties

More than 80 workplaces joined the webinar. Half of those workplaces had more than one employee participating.

In August and early September, the labour and health ministries and Public Health Ontario held joint Ebola Preparedness webinars for stakeholders called, "What Ontario’s Health System Needs to Know to Prepare for Ebola Virus Disease" [PDF;  1.15 Mb ].

Next steps

Ministry inspectors will continue to visit health care sector workplaces. All acute care hospitals will be inspected over a period of three years and opportunities will be sought to connect with hospital executives.

To strengthen workplace health and safety, the ministry will continue to work with:

Health and safety tools and resources available to the health care sector

Please access the Ministry of Labour Health and Community Care website for publications, resources, videos, links and a variety of other useful information.

Information is also available from Ontario’s health and safety associations, including the Public Services Health and Safety Association.