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Blitz Results: New Small Business Registrations and Internal Responsibility System Initiative

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: July 18, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: July 2014

Small new businesses are responsible for complying with Ontario’s legislation to prevent injuries and illness.

A key to workplace health and safety is having a strong internal responsibility system (IRS). The IRS is a system in which everyone – employers, supervisors and workers – all have key roles in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.

Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited new small businesses with fewer than 20 workers in the industrial sector. The focus was on businesses that had registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), but had no prior contact with the ministry.

The inspectors checked to ensure these workplaces:

The goal was to:

  • promote improved health and safety in new small businesses
  • encourage employers to identify and control hazards
  • address and remedy non-compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • support vulnerable workers by raising awareness of worker rights
  • raise awareness of the importance of the IRS and availability of resources in the health and safety system
  • enhance health and safety partnerships

Report summary

From April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, industrial health and safety inspectors conducted 1,589 field visits to 1,190 workplaces and issued 4,014 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 58 stop work orders.

The most frequently issued orders were for employer failings to:

  • post the OHSA
  • take reasonable precautions to protect worker health and safety
  • prepare a health and safety policy and maintain a program to implement the policy

Full report

Workplace Inspection Blitzes and Provincial Initiatives

Inspection blitzes and provincial initiatives are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. They are announced to the sector by the ministry in advance although individual workplaces are not identified in advance. Results are posted on the ministry’s website. The blitzes and provincial initiatives raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its safety 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.

Blitz focus

Inspectors visited a number of workplaces in the industrial sector, including:

  • retail establishments
  • restaurants
  • wood and metal fabrication establishments
  • industrial services
  • wholesalers
  • automotive manufacturers
  • vehicle sales and service workplaces

The inspectors checked that:

  • the core elements of the IRS were established, implemented and maintained
  • employers had identified and controlled hazards
  • non-compliance with the OHSA and its regulations was being addressed and remedied
  • vulnerable workers were aware their OHSA rights
  • workplace parties were being directed to resources in the health and safety system

Inspection activity summary

Table 1: Field visit activity
Program Activities Numbers
Number of workplaces visited 1,190
Total visits[1] 1,589
Orders (all types) 4,014
Stop work orders 58
Average orders per workplace visited 3.37
Average orders per visit 2.53
[1] refers to the total number of individual visits MOL inspectors made to all workplaces during this initiative.

Order analysis

Orders were primarily issued under OHSA and the Regulations for Industrial Establishments.

In total, 2,166 orders or about 54 per cent were directly related to the establishment, implementation and maintenance of the IRS.

Table 2: Total IRS-Related Orders
Type of order Number of orders Percentage of total orders issued
Workplace violence and harassment prevention 930 23.2%
Employer obligations (worker training, posting OHSA/ policies, programs) 781 19.5%
Establish / maintain / support worker health and safety representative 299 7.5%
Establish / maintain / support Joint Health and Safety Committees 156 3.9%

Table 3: Total IRS-Related Orders
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total orders issued
Employer failure to post OHSA [OHSA Sec. 25(2)(i)] 389 9.7%
Employer failure to take reasonable precautions to protect workers' health and safety [OHSA Sec. 25(2)(h)] 249 6.2%
Employer failure to prepare health and safety policy and maintain program [OHSA Sec. 25(2)(j)] 202 5%
Employer failure to conduct lifting device examinations
[Industrial Reg. Sec. 51(1)(b)]
180 4.5%
Employer failure to maintain equipment in good condition
[OHSASec. 25(1)(b)]
171 4.3%
Employer failure to have worker health and safety representative
[OHSA Sec. 8(1)]
150 3.7%
Employer failure to have a health and safety representative conduct monthly workplace inspection [OHSA Sec. 8(6)] 132 3.3%
Employer failure to provide information, instruction, supervision to workers [OHSA Sec. 25(2)(a)] 120 3%
Employer failure to provide information, instruction on workplace harassment [OHSA Sec. 32.0.7] 114 2.8%
Employer failure to develop and maintain program to implement workplace violence prevention policy [OHSA Sec. 32.0.2 (1)] 104 2.6%


A high number of orders issued reflect the employers’ failure to support, develop and implement a self-reliant IRS. The orders issued show a general lack of awareness and understanding for the OHSA responsibilities of workers, employers and supervisors in those workplaces.

The findings indicate the IRS must remain a core focus of every ministry inspection. Many workplaces were also found not to have the required policies and programs to address prevention of workplace violence and harassment.

The inspectors will continue to inspect workplaces for compliance and will direct small business employers to system partners who can assist them in achieving compliance with the legislation. Workers will also be directed to Ministry and system partner resources to assist them. In addition to the enforcement focus, the ministry and its health and safety partners (health and safety Associations and WSIB) are working with business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations to reach small businesses to raise their awareness of the OHSA requirements.

Next Steps

The results confirm the need to continue focused enforcement on new small businesses and to ensure an IRS is established and maintained in these workplaces.

This enforcement initiative is being repeated in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Each industrial inspector will proactively inspect four to eight small businesses (with 50 or less workers) that are registered with the WSIB and have not been previously registered or inspected by the ministry.

This initiative will:

  • increase small business awareness of the workplace parties’ roles and responsibilities under OHSA and its regulations
  • promote awareness and compliance with new mandatory occupational health and safety training for workers and supervisors that came into effect on July 1, 2014
  • support vulnerable workers by making them aware of their rights under the OHSA and the resources available to help them

Compliance help for employers

Please contact our safety partners for more information on:

  • identifying, preventing and controlling workplace hazards
  • IRS resources
  • developing workplace health and safety programs