Overview

Between May 1 to August 30, 2019, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) inspectors conducted a health and safety initiative at industrial sector workplaces focusing on:

  • young workers aged 14 to 24
  • new workers footnote 1 who were on the job for less than six months or assigned to a new job

Inspectors:

Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the OHSA and its regulations.

The goals of this initiative were to:

  • raise awareness of hazards
  • raise awareness of the OHSA rights and responsibilities for new and young workers
  • encourage employers to identify and control hazards
  • increase workplace compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • help to prevent injuries and illness that could arise from unsafe work practices
  • promote improved health and safety for new and young workers

Background

Between 2014 and 2018, 26 young workers aged 15 to 24 died in work-related incidents, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). In 2018, three young workers died.

Between 2014 and 2018, the WSIB approved 36,634 compensation claims involving lost time at work for  young workers. In 2017 alone, injuries to young workers resulted in over 8,600 lost-time claims.

In 2018, many of the injured young workers aged 15 to 19 years old were food counter attendants and kitchen helpers. Many of the injured young workers aged 20 to 24 years old were labourers working in the processing, manufacturing and utilities sectors.

Full report

Workplace inspection initiatives

Inspection initiatives are part of our Safe At Work Ontario (SAWO) compliance strategy. We announce to the sector, in advance, that we will be doing an initiative, however individual workplaces are not notified in advance. We aim to post the results of short-term provincial initiatives online within 90 days and these results may affect the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Focus of the initiative

During this health and safety initiative, inspectors focused on workplaces where new and young workers were employed, including:

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

Inspectors focused on the following:

  • Information, instruction and supervision: Inspectors checked that employers had provided information, instruction and supervision to new and young workers to protect their health and safety when starting a job.  For example, new and young workers must be informed of the requirements involving the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).  They must also be aware of their rights and obligations, including their right to refuse work that could endanger themselves or others.
  • Minimum age requirements: Inspectors checked that workers met minimum age requirements. In workplaces, workers must be at least:
    • 14 years old to work in offices, stores, arenas and restaurant serving areas
    • 15 years old to work in most factories, including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation areas, laundries, warehouses, and shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores
    • 16 years old to work in logging operations. 
  • Internal responsibility system (IRS): Inspectors checked that employers had met the requirements for their workplace’s internal responsibility system, such as having joint health and safety committees or health and safety representatives, when required.
  • Safety measures: Inspectors checked that employers had the required safety measures and procedures in place to prevent worker injuries, illness and death. 

Inspectors took appropriate action if violations were found under the OHSA or its regulations. This included:

  • writing orders to employers, supervisors and workers to have them comply with legal requirements
  • issuing stop work orders requiring employers to comply before work could continue

Inspection activity summary

Visits to workplaces

  • 1281 field visits with 93 support role activities
  • 1091 workplaces visited
  • 3405 orders and requirements issued
  • 3353 orders issued for violations under the OHSA and its regulations, including 53 stop work orders
  • 52 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
  • an average of 3.12 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
  • an average of 2.66 orders and requirements issued per visit

Most frequently issued orders

During the initiative, orders were issued for various violations under the OHSA and under regulations such as:

Top sectors, ranked by orders issued
Sector Orders issued Stop work orders issued Workplaces visited Field visits Support role activities
Retail 909 19 327 374 27
Restaurants 603 0 165 218 10
Tourism, hospitality and recreational services 369 1 106 118 8
Food, beverage and tobacco 235 4 80 96 4
Not elsewhere classified - Industrial 193 2 56 69 5
Industrial services 175 4 73 82 3
Wood and metal fabrication 158 6 38 43 9

Order analysis

The most frequently issued OHSA orders involved employers’ failure to:

  • post in the workplace a copy of the OHSA and any explanatory material provided by the MLTSD [s. 25(2)(i)]260 orders or 7.64% of total orders and requirements
  • maintain equipment in good condition [s. 25(1)(b)]194 orders or 5.70%
  • take reasonable precautions to protect workers’ health and safety [s. 25(2)(h)]181 orders or 5.32%
  • prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [s. 25(2)(j)]122 orders or 3.58%
  • have a workplace health and safety representative at the workplace [s. 8(1)]122 orders or 3.58%
  • post the employer’s workplace violence and harassment policies in the workplace [s. 32.0.1(2)]80 orders or 2.35%
  • develop and maintain a program to implement the workplace harassment policy [32.0.6(1)]77 orders or 2.26%
  • review their violence and workplace harassment policies as often as is necessary, but at least annually [s. 32.0.1(1)(c)]64 orders or 1.88%
  • prepare a policy with respect to workplace harassment [s. 32.0.1(1)(b)]63 orders or 1.85%
  • provide information, instruction and supervision to protect workers' health and safety [s. 25(2)(a)]60 orders or 1.76%
  • post at a conspicuous location in the workplace a copy of the occupational health and safety policy [s. 25(2)(k)]60 orders or 1.76%
  • prepare a policy with respect to workplace violence [s. 32.0.1(1)(a)]59 orders or 1.73%
  • have a health and safety representative do an inspection of the workplace [s. 8(6)]57 orders or 1.67%

A total of 592 orders were issued under PART III.0.1 of the OHSA provisions for workplace violence and harassment. They involved failure of employers to comply with requirements to:

  • have workplace violence and harassment policies and programs in place
  • provide information and instruction on those policies and programs
  • assess or re-assess the risks of workplace violence arising from the nature of the workplace, type of work or conditions of work

As part of checking for worker training and appropriate supervision in workplaces, 404 orders were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation for violations involving:

  • basic occupational health and safety awareness training for workers [s. 1]211 orders or 6.19%
  • basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors [s. 2]188 orders or 5.52%
  • maintaining records of basic occupational health and safety awareness training [s. 4]3 orders or 0.08%

A total of 834 orders were issued under the Industrial Establishments Regulation.  Orders were issued under the following sections (among others):

  • minimum age [s. 4]1 order or 0.02% of total orders and requirements
  • notice of accidents [s. 5]1 order or 0.02%
  • pre-start health and safety review [s. 7 to 8]4 orders or 0.11%
  • housekeeping [s. 11 to 20]189 orders or 5.55%
  • lighting [s. 21]1 orders or 0.02%
  • fire safety [s. 22 to 23]10 orders or 0.29%
  • machine guarding [s. 24 to 44.2]115 orders or 3.37%
  • material handling [s. 45 to 66]302 orders or 8.86%
  • maintenance and repairs [s. 72 to 78]40 orders or 1.17%
  • personal protective equipment [s. 79 to 86]65 orders or 1.90%
  • logging [s. 103 to 119]2 orders or 0.05%
  • buildings [s. 120 to 123]45 orders or 1.32%
  • industrial hygiene [s. 124 to 139]68 orders or 1.99%

A total of 53 stop work orders were issued. This represented about 1.55% of all orders issued.

Observations

Consistent with previous years, this initiative found that workplaces in the retail, restaurant, tourism, hospitality and recreational services sectors (see table above) continue to have the most orders of any sectors visited.

New and young workers continue to be exposed to many similar hazards in workplaces across all sectors, regardless of the size of the workplace or nature of business.

Conclusion and next steps

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system in the workplace.  The OHSA sets out the duties of workplace parties.  It is essential for workplace parties to be aware of and comply with their statutory duties in order to establish and maintain a strong IRS.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards to which new and young workers may be exposed.

The ministry will continue to work with our health and safety system partners to raise awareness and promote workplace health and safety among new and young workers in Ontario.

Help for employers

Please contact our health and safety partners for more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards.

See health and safety awareness products and training for workplace parties.

For more information contact the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

Always call 911 immediately in an emergency.


Footnotes

  • footnote[1] Back to paragraph Includes both “young workers” aged 14 to 24 and workers aged 25 and older.
  • footnote[2] Back to paragraph Activities in which professional services staff (for example, a hygienist, ergonomist, engineer etc.) or another inspector accompanies an inspector on a field visit to provide professional support and/or expertise.
Updated: June 22, 2021
Published: January 03, 2020