In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development plans to adjust the current 2020-21 health and safety compliance initiative schedule. Further updates will be provided as necessary.

We thank you for your continued efforts in keeping workplaces safe in Ontario during this time.


Health and safety inspection initiatives are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy.

These initiatives are announced to sectors in advance. However, individual workplaces are not identified in advance.

Results from provincial initiatives are posted on the ministry’s website. The initiatives are intended to raise awareness of workplace hazards and promote compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors are responsible for enforcing the OHSA and its regulations at workplaces across the province. As part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, the ministry decides on the focus of initiatives using a risk-based process. This process takes into account:

  • injury, illness and fatality rates
  • compliance history
  • the nature of the work (for example, hazards that come with the job)
  • current events
  • the vulnerability of the workers
  • strategic priorities
  • advice from stakeholders and the field

The focuses can be on specific sectors, hazards, issues or topics.

Inspectors are not limited to inspecting only the topics identified in this plan; they can apply the OHSA and its regulations to the situation they find at each workplace they inspect.

Inspectors’ findings may influence how often individual workplaces will be inspected in the future. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for assistance and training.

High risk traumatic hazards – motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards

This initiative is happening in all sectors (such as; construction, health care, industrial and mining).

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: April 1, 2020 – June 26, 2020

Partners: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services and Workplace Safety North

The ministry will partner with the health and safety associations to:

  • deliver sector-specific webinars before the focused inspections phase starts
  • publish motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards compliance assistance resources and packages

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: May 1, 2020 – June 26, 2020


Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) traumatic fatality statistics show that motor vehicle incidents cause more traumatic fatalities each year than any other type of event.

Workers being struck by objects and equipment accounted for 28% of allowed lost time claims received by the WSIB in 2018 for lost-time injuries. (Source: 2019 WSIB Statistical Report, Schedule 1).

In a similar focus during a material handling blitz from September 15 to October 26, 2014, ministry inspectors conducted 841 visits to 701 workplaces and issued 3,263 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 130 stop work orders.

For the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2016 there were 17 fatalities and 32 critical Injuries due to a “struck by” cause for workplaces covered under the industrial program. (Source: MLTSD Data).

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed whether a competent or qualified operator is operating the mobile equipment. For motor vehicle and mobile equipment, common hazards include:

  • contact/struck by
  • improperly maintained equipment
  • distracted driving
  • fatigue

Resources and compliance assistance

Temporary help agencies

From May 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, MLTSD will conduct an enforcement initiative to continue promoting health and safety for workers who are employed by temporary help agencies.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020

Partners: Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: June 29, 2020 to August 31, 2020


Studies show that workers who are new to a job are three times more likely to get hurt during their first month on the job than any other time.

The triangular relationship between temporary help agencies, client employers and the temporary worker can make it difficult to understand who is responsible for protecting and training temporary workers and for them to understand their workplace rights and responsibilities.

Temporary workers may be placed in a variety of short-term employment situations. The newness and lack of familiarity with workplaces makes temporary workers more vulnerable to workplace health and safety hazards than workers in traditional employment relationships.

Initiative focus

Ensure employers are providing temporary help workers with information, instruction, supervision specific to their work placement. Temporary help agency employers and the placement employer have joint responsibilities for worker health and safety protection.

Ministry inspectors may focus inspections on:

  • restaurants
  • administrative and support services
  • manufacturing / utilities

It is the nature of temporary workers to move from workplace to workplace. While there may be some sectors where they are commonly used, inspectors’ field intelligence will be key in determining workplaces in their areas where temporary workers are most likely to be found.

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • training and orientation provided by the employer (for example, supervisor and worker awareness training)
  • internal responsibility system (for example, joint health and safety committee/health and safety representation)
  • workplace violence/workplace harassment

Resources and compliance assistance

Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Public Services Health and Safety Association

Healthy worker healthy workplace initiative: silica exposure

From October 1, 2020 to December 27, 2020 the ministry will run an initiative focusing on silica exposure in industrial settings.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: October 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020

This phase consists of compliance assistance and awareness with all health and safety partners.

Partners: Workplace Safety and Prevention Service and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: November 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020

Inspectors will focus on respiratory hazards related to silica. Inspectors will check that employers are taking appropriate action to assess and address the hazards related to silica exposure, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its associated Regulations.


There are increasing concerns with exposure to silica in workplaces that have introduced relatively new processes and technology without adequate controls.

Between 2008 and 2017, long latency illnesses – illnesses in which there is a long delay between exposure to a disease‐causing agent and the appearance of disease symptoms accounted for the largest proportion of allowed WSIB benefit costs.

Seventy percent of allowed long latency illness claims over the past 10 years include: lung cancer, pleural plaques, mesothelioma, asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which are all associated with respiratory exposures.

Cancer Care Ontario and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre estimate that exposure to asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, crystalline silica and welding fumes are responsible for approximately 1,300 cancer cases a year in Ontario.

According to data provided by Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for a 10-year period from 2008‐2018, there were 287 allowed claims and 408 exposure incidents for silica.

Initiative focus

Inspectors will focus on activities in industrial establishment workplaces where workers are exposed to silica dust such as engineered stone countertop fabrication workplaces and/or sandblasting processes.

Silica dust is a respiratory hazard that can make workers sick in the short‐term with high exposures, and on a long‐term basis with lower exposure, and can overall make workers experience significant disability and/or premature death.

Inspectors will check that:

  • employers are tracking incidents related to the hazard of silica exposure and have steps in place to prevent recurrence
  • employers have completed risk assessments where silica is being used and then have developed a control program accordingly
  • there are measures and procedures that address the control of exposures to silica, including engineering controls, safe work practices and hygiene facilities
  • there are methods and procedures to monitor workers and the workplace for airborne concentrations, including personal records for those exposed
  • workers are acquainted with the hazards and health effects associated with dust inhalation
  • medical surveillance for exposed workers is provided where applicable
  • joint health and safety committees have reviewed these control measures and procedures
  • the ventilation systems and respirators are included in the workplace inspections and workers are being engaged in discussions about any concerns they may have regarding these control measures
  • workers wearing respirators are fit-tested
  • workers wearing respirators have received information and instruction for the safe use, care and maintenance of respirators

Resources and compliance assistance

Workplace violence in education

From April 2020 to March 2021, the ministry will conduct an initiative focusing on workplace violence in elementary and high schools.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021

Partners: Public Service Health and Safety Association

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: February 1, 2021 to March 31, 20219


Workplace violence in the education sector is a major, ongoing issue. There is increasing evidence that injuries are occurring in elementary and secondary schools that affect teachers, educational assistants and other workers.

In 2017, a provincial working group on health and safety was established and resources were created to assist school board employers in protecting workers. A survey of education stakeholders was undertaken in June 2019 which identified significant gaps in implementation across the province.

Workplace violence incidents can be broken into two basic clusters: incidents that occur working with students with exceptional needs and incidents that occur related to criminal type violence either between students or student to workers. Employers and unions in this sector often face challenges dealing with these types of incidents because of the cross obligations under the Education Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Work refusals in this sector are frequent and oftentimes result in a workplace party launching a section 61 appeal. These appeals consume massive resources from all parties.

Initiative focus

  • provision of information to keep workers safe when working in these classrooms; including occasional workers
  • use and training of personal protective equipment for workers
  • means of summoning immediate assistance
  • measures and procedures for preventing workplace violence during transitions; such as moving between classrooms, returning to school after prolonged absences, non-routine activities (fire drills, lockdowns, school assemblies, field trips)
  • measures and procedures to identify when a re-assessment of risk is required within the classroom

Resources and compliance assistance

Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Public Services Health and Safety Association

Industrial sector compliance plan 2019-2020