The Health Care Health and Safety Program enforces Ontario’s workplace safety laws in the health care sector. This includes:

  • long-term care homes (homes for nursing care)
  • retirement homes (homes for residential care)
  • hospitals
  • nursing services
  • supported group living residences and other facilities (group homes)
  • treatment clinics and specialized services
  • professional offices and agencies, including medical laboratories
  • Most, but not all, of these workplaces are governed by Ontario Regulation 67/93 - Health Care and Residential Facilities. Check the regulation’s subsection 2(1) for applicable workplaces.

Quick facts

  • More than 880,000 workers are employed in Ontario’s health care sector.
  • They work at more than 6,000 hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, community care and other workplaces across the province.
  • Health care ranks second highest for lost time injuries among all sectors in Ontario (WSIB, By the Numbers, 2016).
  • Health care ranks fifth highest for lost time injury rates among all sectors in Ontario (WSIB, By the Numbers, 2016).

Key challenges

Challenges in the health care sector can significantly affect worker health, lost-time injury rates (injuries that result in lost time at work) and non-lost time injury rates (injuries that do not result in lost time at work).

These include:

  • increased demand for care from an aging  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
    • other environmental health risks
  • recruitment and retention due to
    • an aging workforce
    • shortage of skilled professional staff
    • an increase in the casual and part-time workforce

Long-term care homes

These are government funded homes regulated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. They generally offer higher levels of personal care and support (such as 24-hour nursing services or personal support) than offered by retirement homes or supportive housing.

Common hazards include:

Retirement homes

These provide residential services primarily to seniors who are generally able to care for themselves but may need some help with daily activities. Services and levels of care vary. Workers include nursing staff, personal support workers and support service staff such as housekeepers and kitchen staff.

Retirement homes are governed by the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 administered by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.

Common hazards include:


Hospitals are the largest employers in the health care sector. They vary in the types of services offered. Included are general hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, extended care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, addiction hospitals, paediatric and other specialty hospitals.

Common hazards in hospitals include:

Nursing services

These include agencies that provide temporary or long-term professional health services (including nursing and medical), other health and community care services (such as non-professional physical and personal care) and home support services (such as homemaking).

Health care personnel can include physiotherapists, nursing staff and personal support workers.

Common hazards include:

Supported group living residences and other facilities

These primarily provide residential care or support for people with developmental disabilities, mental health disabilities and substance abuse problems. Residents may have decreased physical capacity or cognitive ability and need help with daily living.

Common hazards include:

Treatment clinics and specialized services

These include drug and alcohol treatment centres, public health clinics, community clinics and skills development programs. Activities may include assessment and rehabilitative treatment for patients and clients.

Common hazards in treatment clinics and specialized services include, but are not limited to:

Professional offices and agencies

These include doctors’ clinics, dental surgery clinics, other allied health professional clinics and medical laboratories and specimen collection centres in a community setting. Private practice (individual or group) by general physicians, specialists and surgeons is also included.

Common hazards include: