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.

The ministry posts results from provincial initiatives 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 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 inspections 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 – slips, trips and falls

This initiative is taking place in all sectors (i.e., construction, health care, industrial and mining).

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: March 18 to July 12, 2019

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 slips, trips and falls compliance assistance resources and packages
  • encourage workplaces to stop work for 15 to 30 minutes to have a safety talk about slip, trip and fall hazards specific to their workplace during Falls Awareness Week (May 6 to 10, 2019)

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: April 15 to July 12, 2019


From 2011 to 2017, slips, trips and falls were the second-highest cause of traumatic fatalities. 73 workers were killed at work due to falls during this time period. Furthermore, slips, trips and falls was the third-highest injury event reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in 2017 and accounted for 20% of allowed lost time claims with the WSIB in 2017.

Due to its impact across all sectors, the ministry and its partners have chosen to hold a campaign focused on slips, trips and falls hazards in spring 2019.

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed for slip, trip and falls hazards and controlled for them (for example, through posting appropriate signs and good housekeeping practices).

Common hazards are:

  • slippery substances like spills, snow and ice
  • debris or obstructions in walkways
  • improperly maintained equipment (for example, ladders)
  • dirty work areas and surfaces
  • unsafe use of ladders
  • poor lighting
  • changes in walkway levels and slopes
  • unsecured mats
  • unsuitable footwear
  • falls from beds of trucks, trailers or loads
  • smoke, steam or dust obscuring view
  • lack of guardrails on mezzanines and balconies

Resources and compliance assistance

Find guidelines, fact sheets and other resources in the ministry’s falls page.

Ground control

From July 15 to September 27, 2019, the ministry will conduct an initiative on ground control.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: July 15 to September 27, 2019

Partner: Workplace Safety North

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: August 6 to September 27, 2019


Ground instability has been one of the biggest causes of fatalities in underground mines in Ontario. Since 2000, 10 workers have died and nearly 50 workers have been critically injured in underground mines in Ontario as a result of falls of ground. Additionally, the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review ranked four of the top five highest risks as ground control issues.

Workers face health and safety risks from hazards that can lead to the collapse of excavated rock or stockpiled material found in underground and surface mines.

Initiative focus

Ministry inspectors will review:

  • ground control plans (unsupported underground openings, ground support quality control and ground instability record keeping)
  • mine design
  • communication programs
  • procedures for installation of ground support
  • quality control programs

Resources and compliance assistance

Healthy workers in healthy workplaces – musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory hazards

This initiative is taking place in all sectors (i.e. construction, health care, industrial and mining).

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: September 1 to December 27, 2019

Partners: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Workplace Safety North and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: October 1 to December 27, 2019

Musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the top lost-time injury at work reported to the WSIB in Ontario. In 2017, MSDs represented approximately one-third of all accepted WSIB lost time claims. There were over:

  • 19,000 claims
  • 462,000 days lost from work
  • $72 million in direct WSIB costs

Initiative focus

MSD hazards such as high forces, awkward postures and repetitive motions are commonly found when workers are required to lift, carry, push, pull or lower materials or even other people. This may lead to the development of MSDs, which can be painful and debilitating. This initiative will focus on hazards that may lead to MSDs during manual materials handling and client handling activities, and helping workplaces eliminate or control those hazards.

In mines and mining plants, inspectors will focus on manual materials handling activities, as well as activities that involve the use of powered hand tools. MSD hazards are often found in manual materials handling activities, while working with powered hand tools exposes workers to hand-arm vibration. Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is the second most common occupational disease in the mining sector.

Inspectors will check:

  • if and where MSDs are occurring
  • JHSC meeting minutes to see if any MSD hazards have been identified
  • if workers have been provided with information and instruction regarding MSD hazards in their work
  • that manual materials handling duties are being performed in a safe manner
  • if workers are being exposed to hand-arm vibration, and if so, what precautions are being taken

Resources and compliance assistance

  • The ministry’s ergonomics in the workplace page explains occupational health and safety laws related to ergonomics and includes resources and guidance on ways to address hazards from poor ergonomics.
  • The MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario includes fact sheets, step-by-step guidelines on organizing a workplace program to prevent MSDs, a risk assessment tool, quick summaries of basic MSD hazards and a large resource library.

Respiratory hazards


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. 70% of allowed long latency illness claims over the past 10 years come from: 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 cause approximately 1,300 cancer cases a year in Ontario.

Working in a closed underground environment, miners can be exposed to airborne hazards such as diesel emissions and silica, putting them at higher risk of developing occupational illness.

Initiative focus

In mining workplaces, inspectors will check that employers:

  • are maintaining ventilation for the operation of underground diesel equipment
  • are diluting or removing contaminants to prevent worker exposure that is above legal limits
  • have accurate plans and records of ventilation systems
  • are maintaining diesel equipment
  • are testing for diesel emissions and diesel particulate matter (see the guidelines on testing undiluted exhaust in underground mines and sampling for diesel particulate matter in mines)
  • are completing occupational exposure monitoring in areas of known or expected exposures
  • have assessments and control programs in place for designated substances (for example, silica) and dust

Resources and compliance assistance

The ministry has released a fact sheet that gives an overview of occupational disease in mines.

Emergency preparedness self-audit

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: December 16 to March 27, 2020

Partner: Workplace Safety North

Phase 2: Focused consultations and compliance assistance

Dates: February 3 to March 27, 2020


As mines are getting deeper and more remote, mine rescue capabilities and emergency preparedness need to be up to date.

Initiative focus

This initiative is a self-audit and it will cover:

  • underground fires
  • fire drills
  • escapeways
  • secondary accesses
  • checks of risk registry for potential emergencies and mine rescue
  • refuge stations
  • remote sites work
  • emergency preparedness

This will cover the underground, surface and diamond drilling subsectors.

Resources and compliance assistance