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Health Care Program

Safe At Work Ontario

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

The health care sector faces some key challenges which could have a significant impact on worker health and lost-time injury rates (injuries that result in lost time at work beyond the day of the injury).

These challenges include:

  • increased care requirements resulting from Ontario’s aging population;
  • increased patient and resident needs;
  • increased demand on health and community care services;
  • globalization of occupational health and safety issues such as:
    • emerging infectious diseases,
    • pandemics and
    • other environmental health risks; and
  • recruitment and retention due to:
    • an aging workforce and
    • a shortage of skilled professional staff and increase in the casual and part-time workforce.

The health care sector, according to the By the Numbers 2014 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board report, had a lost-time injury rate in 2014 of 1.32 per 100 workers. This is higher than the overall lost-time injury rate of 0.92 among all Schedule 1 employers in 2014. The health care sector lost-time injury rate decreased in 2014 from 1.37 in 2013.

Provincial health care initiative

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 on July 1, 2014 and continued until June 30, 2015.

Inspectors are checking on compliance with:

  • the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • O. Reg. 67/93: Health Care and Residential Facilities;
  • O. Reg. 474/07: Needle Safety; and
  • Other health and safety regulations.

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 Occupational Health and Safety Act 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.

This initiative includes an evaluation of the workplaces’ Internal Responsiblity System and their compliance with O. Reg. 297/13: Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training.

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; and
  • workplace violence.
Table 34: Health care enforcement initiative
Program activities Number
Field visits 785
Workplaces visited 413
Orders and requirements issued 1,954
Stop work orders 16
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 4.73
Orders and requirements per field visit 2.49

The orders were issued for various violations under the:

Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors.

Table 35: Health care sectors, ranked by orders issued
Sector Orders issued Stop work orders issued Requirements issued Workplaces visited
Hospitals 1,131 12 6 139
Homes for nursing care 278 4 1 51
Group homes 166 0 1 88
Professional offices and agencies 166 0 0 55
Homes for residential care 137 0 1 38
Treatment clinics and specialized services 70 0 1 33
Nursing services 2 0 0 4
Other 4 0 0 5

The 16 stop work orders represented 0.8 per cent of all the orders issued.

Order analysis

The three most frequently issued orders involved employers’ failure to:

  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for a worker’s protection;
  • ensure that materials, articles or things are transported, placed or stored so that they will not tip, collapse or fall; and
  • ensure that equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.
Table 36: Most commonly issued orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage total of orders issued
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for a worker’s protection [OHSA s. 25(2)(h)] 219 11.2
Failure to ensure that materials, articles or things are transported, placed or stored so that they will not tip, collapse or fall [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 103(2)] 141 7.2
Failure to ensure that equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition [OHSA s. 25(1)(b)] 117 6
Failure to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker for a worker’s protection [OHSA s. 25(2)(a)] 88 4.5
Failure to keep work surfaces free of obstructions and hazards [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 33(1)(a)] 87 4.5
Failure to develop, establish, and put into effect measures and procedures for a worker’s protection in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or health and safety representative [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 8] 69 3.5
Failure to provide guard or other device on machine, prime mover or transmission equipment with an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 45] 67 3.4
Failure to ensure that materials, articles or things are handled, stored and disposed of in a manner that will not cause a hazard [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 103(1)] 51 2.6
Failure to develop, establish and provide training and educational programs in health and safety measures and procedures that are relevant to the workers' work [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 9(4)] 50 2.6
Failure to ensure that no food, drink, tobacco, or cosmetics are consumed, applied or kept in areas where infectious materials, hazardous chemicals or hazardous drugs are used, handled or stored [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 32] 49 2.5
Failure to ensure that measures and procedures are reviewed at least annually and in light of current knowledge and practice [O. Reg. 67/93 s. 9(2)] 49 2.5

Resources

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:

Regional health care initiatives

Western Region

Developmental services

This was a two-year initiative that ran from April 2014 to March 2015 and was a partnership with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Public Services Health & Safety Association, Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS), and Developmental Services Ontario. The first year was comprised of partnership building, education and outreach to employers. The second year was comprised of field visits to developmental services, employers' head offices and field locations.

Table 37: Developmental services (Western Region)
Program activities Number
Field visits 161
Workplaces visited 118
Orders and requirements issued 227
Stop work orders 1
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 1.92
Orders and requirements per field visit 1.41

Retirement homes

The retirement homes initiative in Western Region was strictly educational. Meetings were arranged with the Ontario Retirement Communities Association throughout the province. Managers and regional program coordinators attended these meetings and delivered an overview of Safe At Work Ontario and Employment Standards information to a total of approximately 300 attendees.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.