Overview

Health and safety inspection initiatives are part of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skill Development’s commitment to meeting requirements outlined in the ministry’s five-year occupational health and safety strategy, Prevention Works.

We announce these initiatives to sectors in advance. However, we do not identify individual workplaces before conducting a health and safety inspection.

Results from provincial initiatives are posted online. 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, Immigration, Training and Skills Development inspectors are responsible for enforcing the OHSA and its regulations at workplaces across the province. 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 – struck-by, motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards

This initiative is happening in all sectors, such as:

  • construction
  • health care
  • industrial
  • mining

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: April 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022

Partners for this initiative include:

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, 2022 to June 30, 2022

Rationale

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 focused inspection 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: MLITSD Data).

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed whether a competent or qualified operator is operating the mobile equipment, workers are working safely around moving vehicles and equipment, and mechanics hold the required certificate of qualification for the work they are doing. For motor vehicle and mobile equipment, common hazards include:

  • contact/struck by
  • improperly maintained equipment
  • distracted driving
  • line of sight

Resources and compliance assistance

Temporary help agencies

From May 2, 2022 to August 31, 2022, MLITSD will conduct an enforcement initiative to continue promoting health and safety for workers who are employed by temporary help agencies including new/young workers and vulnerable workers.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: May 2, 2022 to August 31, 2022

Partners for this initiative include:

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: June 29, 2022 to August 31, 2022

Rationale

Workers who are new to a job are three times more likely to get hurt during the first month on the job than at any other time. New hires, temporary foreign workers, permanent or temporary workers and any worker who is assigned to a new job is at increased risk of injury.

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 will focus inspections on:

  • retail
  • restaurants
  • food, beverage and tobacco
  • tourism, hospitality and recreational services
  • manufacturing

There are two focus groups:

  • young workers who are 14–24 years old
  • new workers who are 25 years of age or older

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
  • minimum age requirements (where the industrial regulations apply)
  • heat stress

Resources and compliance assistance

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services

Restaurants

Retail

Hotels

Material handling

Workplace Safety North

Public Services Health and Safety Association

Fall harvest

From September 14 – November 30, 2022, MLITSD inspectors will conduct an enforcement strategy to raise awareness regarding the roles and responsibilities of workplace parties and worker rights on farms that employ temporary foreign agricultural worker (TFAWs).  Inspectors will also be inspecting the farms for hazards that may affect the health and safety of workers.

Focused inspections

Dates: September 14 – November 30, 2022

Rationale

Every year over 20,000 TFAWs come to Ontario to work on our farms and in our greenhouses. The workers play a vital role in the industry and in the communities of Ontario.  Because of their work permit/residency status, language barriers and temporary nature of their work, they are at increased risk of injuries and mistreatment at work.

This strategy aims to increase compliance with the OHSA and regulations.

Strategy focus

This strategy aims to increase awareness among workplace parties, including TFAWs, of their roles and responsibilities and rights under the OHSA and to audit for compliance at these farms.

MLITSD inspectors will focus on:

  • workplace parties’ roles and responsibilities
  • internal responsibility system (for example, joint health and safety committee/health and safety representation)
  • training and orientation provided by the employer (for example, supervisor and worker awareness training)
  • health and safety hazards in farming and agriculture
  • the prevention injuries and illnesses that could arise from unsafe work practices

Resources and compliance assistance

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS)

Healthy worker healthy workplace initiative: silica exposure

Healthy workers in healthy workplaces focuses on  issues related to occupational diseases. This initiative is taking place in all sectors (such as construction, health care, industrial and mining). In the industrial sector, the focus of the initiative will be on awareness and prevention of silica exposure in industrial workplaces.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: October 3, 2022 to December 30, 2022

This phase consists of compliance assistance and awareness with some of our health and safety partners, including:

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: October 31, 2022 to December 30, 2022  

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

Rationale

Crystalline silica occurs in nature as mineral quartz. It is found in granite, sandstone, quartzite, various other rocks and sand.

Silica dust particles can become trapped in the lungs resulting in permanent damage (silicosis). Workers exposed to silica may also be at increased risk for other diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

CAREX Canada has reported that approximately 570 lung cancers are due to occupational exposure to crystalline silica each year in Canada, based on past exposures (1961–2001). This amounts to 2.4% of lung cancer cases diagnosed annually.

Cancer Care Ontario reports that each year approximately 200 cases of lung cancer in Ontario are caused by exposure to crystalline silica in workplaces. It is the second leading cause of occupation lung cancer after asbestos.

Initiative focus

Inspectors will focus on factories that manufacture quartz and granite countertops, ceramics and stone products; foundries; and other industrial workplaces where workers may be exposed to crystalline silica dust.

They will also focus on job tasks in industrial workplaces that put workers at risk of inhaling crystalline silica including grinding, sandblasting, crushing, chipping, mixing, plowing and other tasks resulting in exposure to silica dust.

O. Reg. 490/09: Designated Substances applies with respect to silica, to every employer and worker at a workplace, other than a construction project, where silica is present, produced, processed, used, handled, or stored and at which a worker is likely to be exposed to silica.

Inspectors will check, among other things, that:

  • employers have completed assessments of the exposure or likelihood of exposure to silica
  • the assessments are conducted in consultation with the joint health and safety committee (JHSC)
  • where required, silica control programs have been implemented including but not limited to engineering controls, safe work practices, hygiene facilities and practices, among other things.
  • training programs for supervisors and workers include the health effects of silica and the measures and procedures to follow under the control program
  • the measures and procedures in the control program have been developed in consultation with the JHSC
  • employers are taking all necessary measures and procedures to ensure a worker’s airborne exposure to silica is reduced to the lowest practical level and in any event does not exceed the appropriate occupational exposure limits
  • employers are conducting sampling to monitor airborne concentrations of silica and worker exposure to airborne silica, and are maintaining records
  • where required, as part of the control program, medical surveillance for exposed workers is provided
  • ventilation systems are being properly inspected and maintained
  • workers who are required to wear tight fitting respirators are fit-tested and have received information and instruction for their safe use, care, and limitations
  • employers are meeting their reporting obligations under the OHSA and are reviewing incidents to take steps to prevent recurrence
  • safe material handling practices

Resources and compliance assistance

Workplace violence in education

From April 2022 to March 2023, the ministry will conduct an initiative focusing on workplace violence in elementary and high schools.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023

The ministry will partner with  Public Service Health and Safety Association

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: February 1, 2023 to March 31, 2023

Rationale

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
  • incidents that occur related to criminal type violence either between students or students 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 often result in a workplace party launching a s.61 appeal. These appeals consume significant 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 (for example, fire drills, lockdowns, school assemblies and field trips)
  • Measures and procedures to identify when a re-assessment of risk is required within the classroom.

Resources and compliance assistance

Material handling strategy

From May 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022, MLITSD will conduct an enforcement strategy to raise awareness of the material handling hazards faced by workers in industrial establishments.

Focused inspections

Dates: May 1, 2022 to September 30, 2022

The ministry will partner with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.

Rationale

This five-month strategy has one phase only and the focus is on a number of sectors that have accounted for fatalities and critical injuries in 2021. WSIB data from 2020 on lost time injuries shows that there were 17,802 claims related to bodily reaction and exertion and 11,674 claims from contact with objects or equipment.

MLITSD data from 2021 shows that there were 33 fatalities in the industrial program, of those 13 were because of crushing injuries and eight were struck by fatalities. The sectors most affected are the industrial services, wood and metal fabrication and automotive sectors of the industrial program.

This strategy aims to increase compliance with the OHSA and regulations.  

Strategy focus

MLITSD Inspectors will check for material handling hazards that could result in worker injuries and deaths.

Ministry inspectors will focus inspections on:

  • automotive 
  • ceramics, glass and stone
  • chemical, rubber and plastics
  • industrial services
  • retail
  • transportation including warehousing and distribution centres
  • wholesalers
  • wood and metal fabrication

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • lifting devices
  • workplace layout and design
  • manual material handling
  • mobile equipment
  • storage systems
  • BOSTA
  • vehicle maintenance pits
  • machine guarding, blocking and lockout
  • truck repair hazards
  • 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)

Resources and compliance assistance

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS)