Ontario’s occupational health and safety system
Learn about the organizations and committees that work to keep Ontario workers safe.
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Ontario’s occupational health and safety system consists of:
- key partners, known as the system partners
- a broader network of partners
These partners work together to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and support the goals of the Occupational Health and Safety System Strategy.
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) oversees and coordinates Ontario’s occupational health and safety system. The ministry creates and leads a provincial workplace health and safety strategy to prevent illnesses and injuries.
The ministry also:
- develops laws on occupational health and safety and workplace insurance
- communicates and enforces occupational health and safety law in Ontario workplaces
- sets standards for health and safety training
- measures and evaluates the effectiveness of the provincial workplace health and safety strategy
- measures and evaluates the impact of the occupational health and safety system’s programs and initiatives
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is an independent agency of the ministry and is entirely funded by Ontario businesses. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is one of the largest insurance organizations in North America, covering over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board provides:
- wage-loss benefits and medical coverage
- no-fault collective liability insurance
- support to help people get back to work
- access to industry-specific health and safety information
- funding to the health and safety system, including ministry health and safety activities
- health and safety programs for Ontario employers
Health and safety associations
Using funding provided by WSIB, the ministry funds six health and safety associations (HSAs).
Four of the HSAs are sector-based:
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) serves construction, electrical, utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation sectors
- Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) works with Ontario’s Public and Broader Public Sector employers
- Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) serves the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors
- Workplace Safety North (WSN) serves the mining and forest products industries, as well as businesses across northern Ontario
Two of the HSAs serve people in all sectors:
- Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) provides occupational disease information and clinical services, including medical diagnostic services
- The Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC), Ontario’s designated health and safety training centre, provides training for workers, supervisors, health and safety representatives, joint health and safety committees, and employers
Each Health and Safety Association is an independent not-for-profit corporation, governed by a board of directors. They deliver front-line prevention programs on behalf of the ministry, providing services and information directly to:
- employers and workers
- joint health and safety committees
- medical practitioners
Health and Safety Associations services include:
- delivering training and creating tools that can be used in workplaces
- consultation and clinical services
- supporting industry-specific programs such as mine rescue training
The ministry has six research centre partners that are vital to the occupational health and safety system:
- Institute for Work & Health (IWH)
- Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC)
- Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD)
- Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD)
- Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH)
- EPID@Work Research Institute
These research centres create and share occupational health and safety knowledge, and support how that information can be applied. Scientists at the centres:
- share knowledge to find solutions to existing and emerging health and safety issues
- inform policy makers
- help identify the results of initiatives undertaken by the system
The centres help strengthen Ontario’s knowledge base by providing opportunities for emerging scientists in the field. Their research is often internationally recognized.
The broader health and safety network
The Prevention Council advises the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the Chief Prevention Officer on a wide range of occupational health and safety issues, including:
- prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses
- development of the provincial occupational health and safety strategy (Prevention Works)
- any significant proposed changes to funding and delivery of services under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Section 21 committees
Section 21 committees are formed by the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to give sector-specific advice to the minister on health and safety issues.
Currently, there are seven Section 21 committees:
- Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee – Construction
- Provincial Labour-Management Safety Committee – Electrical & Utilities
- Mining Legislative Review Committee
- Ontario Police Health and Safety Advisory Committee
- Film and Television Section 21 Advisory Committee
- Fire Service Section 21 Advisory Committee
- Health Care Section 21 Advisory Committee
Many of the committees also produce guidance materials to help the sector to comply with legislation, clarify the sector’s legislative responsibilities, and exchange information and advice on emerging issues. They may also develop subcommittees to address sub-sector health and safety needs.
To ensure that employer and worker needs are met, all Section 21 committees must have equal representation from labour and management.
Other advisory committees
The ministry also participates in other provincial advisory committees. They include:
- Technical Advisory Committee – Farming Sector
- Live Performance Advisory Committee
- Petrochem Forum Steering Committee
Office of the Employer Adviser and Office of the Worker Adviser
The Office of the Employer Adviser (OEA) and Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) are independent agencies of the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The OEA works with employers, while the OWA works with non-union workers. Each provides their clients with free and confidential advice, representation and education on all workplace insurance issues and on occupational health and safety reprisal issues.
Approved training providers
Training is key to improving worker health and safety. In Ontario, training providers who wish to teach joint health and safety committee (JHSC) certification programs or working at heights training programs must have their programs approved by the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). This is so that everyone who has been trained receives the same level of information.
As of August 13, 2020, there are 226 approved providers delivering working at heights training and 58 training providers have been approved by the CPO to conduct JHSC Certification training (either part 1, part 2 or refresher).
Training providers can apply for CPO approval to conduct working at heights training or JHSC training at any time.
In addition to its official partners, the ministry works with, and gets advice from, a variety of organizations and individuals through ongoing and project-specific groups.
Other partners include:
- a prevention employer partner advisory table
- other Ontario ministries
- non-governmental organizations
- private-sector organizations
- members of the public
These partnerships and the collaborative work that comes out of them help to identify issues and direct prevention efforts throughout the system.
To continue to improve health and safety, the ministry strives to partner with groups and organizations that are committed to health and safety excellence. There is a role in the system for everyone who has a stake or interest in improving health and safety in Ontario’s workplaces.