Ontario’s occupational health and safety system partners (“the OHS system”)
Prevention Works is the OHS system’s five-year strategy that builds on the successes of the past while also creating a renewed vision and foundation for the future. Prevention Works will guide the OHS system in assessing the current landscape and provide us with the tools and direction we need to achieve our objectives and intended outcomes.
Prevention Works contains four strategic objectives and two areas of systems focus, which were developed based on extensive research and province-wide consultations. The objectives steer the system towards developing and implementing evidence-informed, risk-based interventions that are customer-focused, and that will strengthen worker mobility and OHS knowledge and practices ‘on the ground.’ Prevention Works guides the system towards helping workplaces to not only comply with OHS laws and standards but supporting them to achieve OHS excellence through participation in incentive programs. The strategy also makes it easier for small businesses to comply with occupational health and safety requirements; this includes tailoring OHS resources and information to meet the specific needs of small businesses and providing programs and services that are more cost-effective than previously.
The areas of systems focus are occupational illnesses and work-related mental health / workplace violence and harassment, which involve stakeholders from within and outside of the OHS system to achieve the greatest impact and better outcomes.
Highlights of current and emerging OHS system activities
We are working to understand the root of the problem: In collaboration with sector partners, the ministry has conducted sector-level risk assessments to identify the top risks that could lead to injury, illness or death. To date, the ministry has conducted risk assessments within the mining, hospitals, agriculture, forestry, construction and transportation sectors. The ministry is also building capacity with OHS system partners through a “train the trainer” approach where OHS system partners will be able to conduct the risk assessment process directly with the sectors they serve. The ministry began OHS system capacity building in Summer 2020 and will complete OHS system training on the risk assessment process by Spring 2021.
We are making learning and training easier: To support online learning options, in the Summer of 2020 the ministry provided the option for Part 1 of Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) training to be completed by e-Learning, and is planning for a full review of the JHSC program to begin in the next twelve months. Furthermore, the OHS system published a free e-Learning course in Winter 2021 that helps workers learn how infections spread—including COVID‑19—and what steps can be taken to protect themselves and others from infectious disease risks in the workplace. The ministry is also providing free occupational health and safety training for health and safety representatives in up to 60,000 small businesses with 6–19 workers by investing $3.5 million annually over a three-year period.
We are improving oversight of OHS training: Currently, there are over 240 training providers in Ontario who are approved by the Chief Prevention Officer to deliver Joint Health and Safety Committee and / or Working at Heights training. This does not include first aid training, which is currently overseen by the WSIB. The ministry recently consulted on a proposal to assume responsibility for workplace first aid, including training. In addition to the approved training providers, the ministry has identified at least 500 training providers who deliver non-CPO approved OHS training. By Fall 2021, the ministry plans to complete a review of OHS training programs to inform options for improved oversight over OHS training in Ontario.
We are eliminating duplication: For workers who have come to Ontario from other provinces and / or territories, the ministry is committed to removing the need to duplicate certain pre-employment requirements. For example, as of January 1, 2021, workers with a valid fall protection training certificate issued by WorkplaceNL are permitted to work at heights in Ontario, making Newfoundland and Labrador’s fall protection training an alternative to Ontario’s working at heights training.
We are recognizing and promoting excellence: Launched in November 2019, Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers is a voluntary program run by the CPO that promotes health and safety in the workplace and helps reduce injuries and illness through employers’ successful implementation of an OHS management system. Employers who are accredited and recognized through the SOSE program may also be eligible for rebates from a related WSIB program. The CPO announced the first SOSE employers in Spring 2021 and will continue to promote the SOSE program and its many benefits into the future. We are focused on small business: The ministry will conduct a small business survey to better understand the challenges that are facing small business employers and to learn about the type of support that the ministry and OHS system partners can develop that will meet their unique needs. Survey results are expected to be available by Spring 2022. The ministry has also developed an online COVID‑19 safety plan builder to make it easier and faster for small businesses to develop custom COVID‑19 safety plans to help them comply with public health and occupational health requirements.
We are focused on small business: The ministry will conduct a small business survey to better understand the challenges that are facing small business employers and to learn about the type of support that the ministry and OHS system partners can develop that will meet their unique needs. Survey results are expected to be available by Spring 2022. The ministry has also developed an online COVID‑19 safety plan builder to make it easier and faster for small businesses to develop custom COVID‑19 safety plans to help them comply with public health and occupational health requirements.
Prevention Works supports the government’s Open for Business work in several key ways, including by applying a small business lens to OHS and by strengthening our focus on customer service. Prevention Works also contains a comprehensive plan to develop a performance measurement framework and a strong commitment for OHS system partners to evaluate the strategy’s successes. Together we can identify areas for improvement that will inform our work into the future.