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House Statement
By the Honourable Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Labour
On Health and Safety Awareness Training

  • Issued: November 19, 2013
  • Content last reviewed: November 2013

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Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to rise in this House and announce that the government is introducing new health and safety training requirements for the province’s workforce.

This training will help protect workers and keep them safe.

Speaker, we remember the Christmas Eve scaffolding tragedy where four construction workers lost their lives.

We have seen the toll these preventable tragedies have on our communities, on the workers’ loved ones and on their colleagues.

These new training programs are about trying to make sure this never happens again.

Following that tragedy, the government appointed the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety.

The panel was led by Tony Dean and other health and safety experts representing both workers and employers.

Basic health and safety awareness training for all workers and supervisors were recommendations fourteen and fifteen.

The panel recommended that "a standard should be developed to establish a health and safety awareness program…it should be a requirement that workers receive this information at the entry level, prior to being exposed to workplace hazards…and all supervisors who are responsible for frontline workers."

I remember standing in this Legislature when Bill 160, which laid the groundwork to implement the expert panel’s findings, was passed with the support of all three parties.

That support reflected an enduring truth – that creating safe workers in turn creates safe workplaces.

People looking out for one another.

Speaker, these new training requirements will lay the foundation for building a culture where health and safety are at the centre of the workplace and are part of our even greater focus on preventing workplace incidents and injuries before they happen.

These changes represent the greatest transformation of Ontario’s health and safety rules in over thirty years.

Since their recommendations were accepted, the Ministry of Labour and our government have worked hard to make them a reality.

We have appointed the province’s first Chief Prevention Officer, George Gritziotis, who is overseeing this transformation and helping make sure injuries do not happen in the first place.

We have increased the number of enforcement officers to make sure employers follow the rules.

We will be launching the first ever province-wide integrated occupational health and safety strategy — developed with input from labour, employers, injured workers and community groups — to establish clear priorities and rules that will guide our work in the years ahead.

The “Health & Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here” poster is mandatory in all workplaces.

This poster explains in everyday language the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers.

This is one of many tools the ministry uses to encourage workers to get involved in health and safety, and explains when and why to contact the Ministry of Labour.

And our approach is working — injury rates are down thirty per cent since 2003.

But we must do more because we all know the toll these workplace injuries and fatalities take on our families, our communities, our co-workers and our employees.

That can never be tallied or have a dollar sign put beside it.

The burden to our employers, businesses and the overall economy of Ontario, however, is known.

In the manufacturing industry alone last year, there was the equivalent of 328 years of lost time.

328 years of lost time every single year in just the manufacturing sector.

The productivity loss is staggering.

We cannot allow this to continue. And we all have a role to play.

The government is absolutely committed to doing our part and making sure workers are properly trained and protected.

And the basic awareness training requirements are the next step towards making our workplaces even safer.

Developed in partnership with business, worker groups and municipalities, the training program will ensure workers and supervisors are trained in the basic, foundational principles of Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act in plain, everyday language.

This new on-the-job training can be completed by workers and supervisors taking part in a one hour tutorial either individually or in groups.

And to assist business, especially small business, the government has made the accessible training programs materials available for free.

Because this is about giving workplaces the tools and knowledge they need to make sure our workers go home safe to their families at the end of their shift.

These workbooks are available in English, French, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu and can be downloaded from the Ministry of Labour website or ordered through ServiceOntario.

Our e-learning modules are also now available on our website in English and French, and will be available in additional languages in spring 2014.

The flexibility provided by the e-learning modules will be helpful and will allow training to happen on the worker’s and company’s schedule.

Once the online training is completed, a worker or supervisor will receive a certificate that is valid for the remainder of his or her career.

The new training requirement will come into force on July 1, 2014 and will be mandatory for all current workers and supervisors, and especially new hires.

Because we know that new and young workers are three times more likely to be injured in the first month of their employment than experienced workers.

This time will allow for business to prepare for compliance with the required training. Companies that already provide training that meets these new requirements will not need to participate.

Based on the recommendation of the Expert Advisory Panel the new basic awareness training will include information on:

  • The duties and rights of workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act,
  • The duties of employers and supervisors under the Act,
  • The roles of health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees under the Act,
  • The roles of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and our health and safety system partners under the Act,
  • The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System regarding information and instruction on controlled products, and
  • Occupational illness.

This is about keeping workers safe, and supporting business with enhanced productivity and competitiveness.

Here is what Scott Ingraham, Project Development Engineer, at Powertel Utilities Contractors Limited, said about this new health and safety awareness program:

"Staying competitive as a business means being safe. This training demonstrates achievement in training which is beneficial for employers."

It is designed to explain health and safety rights and responsibilities to the working people of our province so that they have the knowledge and tools to stay safe at work and contribute to building a stronger economy and stronger communities.

Our goal is to protect the lives and well-being of our province’s working people, especially the most vulnerable, and make sure their workplaces are safe, strong and productive.

That is a goal that can save lives.

And that is a goal we all share.

Thank you.