The government has a number of initiatives to keep workers safe on the job. They include:
Proposed Mandatory Awareness Training: The Ministry of Labour recently launched a public consultation on its proposal to introduce regulatory requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for mandatory occupational health and safety awareness training programs for all workers and supervisors.
Vulnerable Workers Advisory Group: An advisory group has been established in response to a recommendation by the Expert Advisory Panel. The group will consult widely with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of occupational health and safety matters that affect vulnerable workers and these workers’ needs. It will also provide advice to the Chief Prevention Officer on the provincial occupational health and safety strategy.
Small Business Advisory Group: An advisory group has been established in response to a recommendation by the Expert Advisory Panel. The group will consult widely with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of occupational health and safety matters that affect small business and these businesses’ needs. It will also provide advice to the Chief Prevention Officer on the provincial occupational health and safety strategy.
Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training in 4 Steps: The Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps Workbook, and accompanying Employer Guide, explains rights and responsibilities under the OHSA.
Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness Training in 5 Steps: Public consultations were completed in the summer months on the supervisor workbook and employer’s guide. Draft copies of this revised workbook will be posted on the Ministry of Labour’s website and a workplace pilot will be conducted by the end of December 2012.
Mandatory Poster: The poster entitled Health and Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here outlines the rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers under the OHSA. It’s available in English, French and 15 other languages. It became mandatory to display this poster in Ontario workplaces on October 1, 2012.
Prevention Council: The Minister of Labour appointed Prevention Council has begun its work in providing advice to the Minister and Chief Prevention Officer on the development of a provincial occupational health and safety strategy. The Council will be engaging a wide range of stakeholders in their deliberations in the coming months.
Safe At Work Ontario (SAWO): SAWO is the Ministry of Labour’s workplace health and safety strategy. It focuses on enforcement, compliance and partnership. The goal is to improve workplace health and safety practices through education, training and enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Blitzes: As part of SAWO, workplaces are identified for proactive inspections through various criteria such as high injury rate, a history of non-compliance and potential hazards. Since launching the strategy in June 2008, ministry inspectors have conducted more than 345,000 field visits, 47 inspection blitzes and issued more than 560,000 compliance orders in Ontario workplaces.
Sector Plans: As part of SAWO, the ministry develops annual sector-specific enforcement plans that focus on hazards specific to workplaces in different sectors of the economy. The plans describe the specialized and professional services office of the MOL as well as the industrial, health care, construction and mining sectors and outline what inspectors will be looking for in each sector during an inspection.
Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre: The ministry operates an Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre (toll-free 1-877-202-0008) that responds to general inquiries about workplace health and safety, and accepts reports on workplace incidents, injuries and fatalities. The staff answers an average of 250 calls daily from across the province.
New Business Registrations: Ministry inspectors visit firms that have recently registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to ensure they are complying with occupational health and safety laws.
Hazard Alerts: The ministry develops alerts in response to a specific hazard involving a workplace fatality or if a new hazard is found during a ministry inspector’s visit to a workplace. Alerts may also be requested by a Coroner’s jury into an inquest. The alerts outline the hazard, the corrective action that may be needed and the ministry’s position on enforcement. The hazards are usually unique and previously unknown and likely to occur at other workplaces.
Interactive Web Tools: The ministry has five online tools to help workplace parties stay safe. The tools are interactive and illustrate some common hazards and measures that can be taken to prevent injury and illness.
Guides to Legislation: The ministry has many guides and guidelines to help workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. Two flagship guides were recently updated: the guides for the act and Joint Health and Safety Committees / Health and Safety Representatives.
Fact Sheets: A number of fact sheets provide employers with an overview of what inspectors look for when targeting specific hazards during a workplace visit.
Downloadable Posters: The ministry has 21 hazard-specific posters that can be downloaded and printed. The posters raise awareness of various hazards in the workplace.
Videos: Almost two dozen videos are available on what an inspector looks for during a workplace inspection. The videos are posted both on the ministry’s website and on its “Ontario At Work” YouTube site.
WorkSmartCampus: The ministry’s WorkSmartCampus, an e-learning tool for students in post-secondary institutions, teaches and reinforces basic occupational health and safety knowledge to prepare these students to be leaders in workplace health and safety.
Live Safe! Work Smart!: The ministry has various Live Safe! Work Smart! teacher resources which include quizzes and tests for teachers to use when teaching workplace health and safety to students in kindergarten to Grade 12. Ontario teachers can order these resources free of charge.
Young Workers’ Tip Sheets: The ministry distributes a number of tip sheets to young workers, their parents, employers and supervisors. The sheets provide information on basic rights, signs a workplace may be unsafe, and how young workers can protect themselves.
Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405
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