From July 22 to September 27, 2019, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development conducted a health and safety initiative, which focused on workplace violence prevention at long-term care, retirement homes and community care workplaces. The initiative was organized in two phases.

Starting July 22 to September 27, 2019, the ministry focused on education, outreach and awareness partnering with the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) to provide training and education to employers. The goal was to help employers comply with the requirements for workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations prior to focused inspections.

From August 19 to September 27, 2019, the ministry conducted a focused inspections blitz. Ministry inspectors:

  • conducted 211 field visits with 14 support role activitiesfootnote 1
  • visited 182 workplaces
  • issued 169 orders and requirements under the OHSA and its regulations, including 1 stop work order

Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the OHSA and its regulations at long-term care homes, retirement homes and community care workplaces. This included checking that employers were protecting workers by taking suitable actions to identify and control hazards.

The goals of the health care health and safety initiative were to:

  • raise awareness of health and safety hazards at long-term care homes, retirement homes and community care workplaces
  • promote and raise awareness of tools developed to support these workplaces
  • verify that requirements were being met
  • increase workplace compliance with the law
  • prevent injuries and illness that could arise from unsafe work practices

Workplace violence hazards

Stakeholders have told us that workplace violence continues to be a serious hazard in health and community care workplaces.

Health care workers are at risk of exposure to workplace violence due to factors such as:

  • working in the community
  • working alone
  • providing direct care to clients, patients or residents with cognitive impairments
  • working with the public

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board shows a high number of lost time injuries (LTIs) from workplace violence in long-term care, retirement homes and other community care settings. In 2018, workplace violence was the third highest cause of LTIs in the health care sector.

Full report

Workplace inspection initiatives

Inspection initiatives are part of our Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. We announce to the sector, in advance that we will be doing an initiative.  The results of the initiative are typically posted online within 90 days. Inspectors' findings may affect the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

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

Initiative focus

Inspectors checked on specific safety issues, such as:

  • employers are training workers on their workplace violence policy and program
  • employers are completing risk assessments and putting measures and procedures in place to control identified risks
  • workers can summon immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs
  • employers are providing workers with information and instruction related to a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour
  • employers have measures and procedures in place for reporting incidents of workplace violence. The measures and procedures should also explain how the employer will investigate and deal with violent incidents
  • employers provide appropriate detail in the written notification of a workplace injury, including the steps taken to prevent reoccurrence

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

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

Inspection activity summary

  • 211 field visits with 14 support role activities
  • 182 workplaces visited
  • 169 orders and requirements issued:
    • 167 orders issued for violations under the OHSA and its regulations, including 1 stop work order
    • 2 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
  • an average of 0.93 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
  • an average of 0.80 orders and requirements issued per visit

Order analysis

During the initiative, 109 orders or 64% of the total orders were written under section 32.0 (violence and harassment) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).  The most frequently issued orders under the OHSA involved employers’ failure to:

  • assess the risk of workplace violence [subsection 32.03 (1)] – 20 orders or 11.83% of the total orders and requirements issued
  • re-assess the risk of workplace violence [subsection 32.03 (4)] – 10 orders or 5.92%
  • post written policies [subsection 32.0.1 (2)] – 7 orders or 4.14%
  • include measures and procedures to control identified risks [clause 32.02 (2)(a)] – 7 orders or 4.14%
  • provide information and instruction to worker(s) (section 32.0.8) – 7 orders or 4.14%

22 orders (13%) were written under the Regulation 67/93: Health Care and Residential Facilities. More than half of those were for section 9 of the regulation, including the employers’ failure to:

  • have written measures and procedures [subsection 9 (1)]
  • review and revise measures and procedures [subsection 9 (2)]
  • in consultation with, and in consideration of, the recommendation of the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any, to develop, establish and provide training and educational programs in measures and procedures for workers [subsection 9 (4)]

Sub-sector analysis

Inspectors visited workplaces in various sub-sectors.

Breakdown of sub-sector orders and requirements issued and visits
Sub-sectorOrders and requirements issuedStop work orders issuedWorkplaces visitedField visitsSupport role activities
Long-term care homes53068825
Retirement homes57052596
Community care settings (nursing services)20780


During the initiative:

Conclusion and next steps

Continued effort is needed to improve the health and safety of workers who work in health care workplaces.

During routine inspections of workplaces in Ontario, the ministry will continue to focus on hazards which may be sources of injury and illness to workers. During visits, inspectors will continue to check that employers are ensuring that:

  • risks are assessed and re-assessed as often as needed to ensure that the policy and program protects workers from workplace violence
  • violence policies are written and posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace
  • there are measures and procedures to control the risks identified in the assessment. In workplaces where the Health Care and Residential Facilities regulation applies, the measures and procedures must be in writing and reviewed and revised at least once a year in light of current knowledge and practice
  • workers have the information and instruction on the contents of the violence policy and program

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of these hazards.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the workplace’s internal responsibility system (IRS).

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong IRS in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the legally required duties of all workplace parties — employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties' compliance with their duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS in the workplace. This is because everyone — including employers, supervisors, workers, health and safety associations and the government — has a key role to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. This is essential to preventing injuries and deaths on the job.

We encourage workplace parties to work together to identify and control hazards in their workplace.

Help for employers

Please contact our health and safety partners for more information on workplace safety.