• Issued: August 19, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: August 2016

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.

Safe At Work Ontario is a Ministry of Labour (MOL) initiative to raise awareness of, and to increase compliance with, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

As part of Safe At Work Ontario, the MOL develops annual sector-specific enforcement plans related to workplace hazards and describes the focus of inspectors.

The Health Care Sector Plan outlines the ministry’s enforcement initiatives to protect Ontario’s workers from occupational injury and illness.

Note that employers have the prime responsibility for ensuring compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

Every year the ministry holds consultations to shape and improve its occupational health and safety compliance strategy and build closer partnerships with its stakeholders. These sessions:

  • help the ministry to improve its approach to better meet the public’s needs
  • provide an opportunity to learn from the ministry’s partners
  • obtain feedback on how well the program is working
  • increase support for new directions, and
  • identify areas for improvement.

The Health Care Sector Plan for 2016-2017 describes sector-specific hazards and compliance issues, and the ministry’s enforcement focus for inspections in health care sub-sectors.

The plan also acknowledges recent changes to the OHSA that will affect:

  • occupational health and safety
  • workplace parties, and
  • the ministry’s enforcement practices.

Basic health and safety awareness training is mandatory for every provincially regulated worker and supervisor as of July 1, 2014. This is required under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation, O. Reg. 297/13.

Under the OHSA, a worker is defined as a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. This does not include an inmate of a correctional institution or like institution or facility who participates inside the institution or facility in a work project or rehabilitation program.

In 2014, the definition of worker in the OHSA was expanded to cover unpaid co-operative education students, certain other learners and trainees participating in a work placement program.

Specifically, the new definition of worker includes:

  • unpaid secondary school students who are participating in a work experience program, authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the students are enrolled
  • other unpaid learners participating in a program approved by a post-secondary institution, and
  • any unpaid trainees who are not employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) because they meet certain conditions.

Volunteers are not covered by this definition of worker.

This sector plan contains a brief description of some of the main issues that an inspector may address in the workplace. It provides a general overview of the ministry’s focus even though each workplace is unique and the circumstances found by an inspector may result in a different inspection focus.

New to the sector plans this year is additional background information on hazards as well as tools and resources relevant for those hazards.

Additionally, there is an overview of the number of lost time injuries (LTIs), non lost time injuries (NLTIs) and LTI frequency rate for each of the health care sub-sectors. Also included are the most common occupational health and safety hazards for each health care sub-sector.

You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with this plan and share it with others in your workplace.

Ontario provides a toll free province-wide telephone number to report unsafe work practices and workplace health and safety incidents. Call the MOL Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1 877-202-0008.

  • Call any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals.
  • Call 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, for general inquiries about workplace health and safety.
  • In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.


In this document, “health care sector” and “health care workplaces” refer to workplaces that provide health or community care services. “Health care” and “community care” include workplaces such as:

  • hospitals
  • long-term care homes
  • retirement homes
  • nursing services
  • supported group living residences
  • independent support residences (group homes)
  • treatment clinics and specialized services
  • medical laboratories
  • professional offices and agencies.

The Regulation for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93) applies to many, but not to all, of these workplaces. Refer to O. Reg. 67/93 subsection 2(1) for applicable workplaces.

Ontario's health care industry

The health care sector faces some key challenges which could significantly affect worker health and lost time injury (LTI) rates (injuries that result in lost time at work).

These challenges include:

  • increased care requirements resulting from the aging of Ontario’s population
  • increased patient and resident needs
  • increased obesity rates
  • increased support for people with dementia
  • 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
  • recruitment and retention due to –
    • an aging workforce
    • shortage of skilled professional staff, and
    • an increase in the casual and part-time workforce.

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ISSN 1923-6239 (online)

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.