McGuinty Government Beefs Up Enforcement To Prevent Workplace Injuries

Archived Release

McGuinty Government Beefs Up Enforcement To Prevent Workplace Injuries

Ministry of Labour

Major Expansion Of Health And Safety Staff Targets Worst Offenders TORONTO, July 8 - The McGuinty government is hiring 200 new health and safety enforcement staff to achieve its goal of preventing 60,000 workplace injuries a year by 2008, Labour Minister Chris Bentley announced today. "We are investing in a safer, more prosperous future for Ontario by significantly increasing staff to target workplaces with poor health and safety records," said Bentley. "We plan to cut workplace injuries by 20 per cent in four years. This will result in less pain and suffering, a reduced burden on the health care system, savings to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of an estimated $300 million, and a level playing field for safe companies." Based on the average cost of a workplace injury, eliminating 60,000 injuries annually will also translate into savings for businesses of up to $960 million per year. The 200 new enforcement staff, to be paid for by the WSIB, will be hired during the next two years. Recruitment of 100 new inspectors is to begin immediately, marking a major expansion of the current force of 230 inspectors. Inspectors will initially target 6,000 workplaces with the highest injury rates. Inspectors will visit these sites four times a year, focusing on workplace hazards to help firms reduce on-the-job injuries. Although these workplaces represent just two per cent of all firms insured by the WSIB, they account for 10 per cent of all lost-time injuries and 21 per cent of injury costs in Ontario. Inspectors will use the full array of enforcement tools to safeguard Ontario workers. "We are taking decisive action to make a real difference in the lives of Ontario workers," said Bentley. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONTARIO STRATEGY TO REDUCE WORKPLACE INJURIES TORONTO - The McGuinty government plans to reduce workplace injuries by 20 per cent by the end of four years through a comprehensive, integrated health and safety strategy spearheaded by aggressive enforcement measures. The goal is that, by 2008, there will be 60,000 fewer workplace injuries per year. On average, there are almost 300,000 workplace-related injuries per year, with about 100,000 serious enough to require people to miss work. A 20 per cent reduction over four years would result in approximately 60,000 fewer injuries by 2008, including 20,000 fewer injuries of the type serious enough to require people to miss work. Increased enforcement The cornerstone of the ministry's enforcement initiative will be the hiring of an additional 200 enforcement staff, including 100 new health and safety inspectors this year, to reduce workplace injuries by targeting firms with high injury rates and high injury costs. The ministry currently has 230 inspectors across Ontario. Twenty-five inspectors were hired earlier this year and have completed their training. The 100 inspectors to be hired this year are in addition to these 25 inspectors. Reasons for acting Workplace injuries create untold human suffering and add costs to the Ontario economy. In addition to the direct effect on injured workers, their families, their employers and their communities, workplace injuries place a substantial and unnecessary burden on Ontario's health care system. The need for an immediate new strategy to deal with this serious situation has been identified by employers, employees and other stakeholders through the Minister's Health and Safety Action Group. All parties agreed more health and safety enforcement staff is required. The Minister's Health and Safety Action Group enlists experts by sector to identify best practices, programs and policies and implements them swiftly. While the rate of lost-time injuries (LTI) has declined substantially over the past 10 to 20 years, the rate of progress has slowed in recent years. As well, the number of workplace fatalities has stopped declining. In order to deal with these issues, the ministry is developing an integrated, comprehensive approach to workplace health and safety focusing on aggressive enforcement, education, training and legislation. Targeting bad performers The ministry will target 6,000 firms which have been identified as high risk. Using data from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), high-risk firms were determined based upon the cost of their lost-time injuries since January 1, 2000. The analysis of the data identified 6,000 high-risk workplaces where workers were injured more often, where compensation costs were higher, and where injuries were more costly when compared with other firms in their sector. By targeting these high-risk firms - while continuing to give priority to investigating workplace fatalities, critical injuries, work refusals, work stoppages and immediate hazards to worker health and safety - lost-time injuries can be reduced by 20 per cent over four years. This will have significant benefit for Ontario's health and safety system and the quality of life for the people of Ontario. Based on the average cost of an injury, 60,000 fewer injuries would translate into savings of as much as $300 million for the WSIB and, eventually, an annual savings of up to $960 million in related costs for businesses. Education, training, legislation The ministry will increase awareness of workplace health and safety initiatives. It will continue to work closely with the WSIB and the 15 health and safety associations across Ontario to provide education and training tailored to the needs of workplaces in specific sectors throughout the province, with a special emphasis on young workers. The ministry will work to increase compliance with occupational health and safety regulations by providing businesses with web-based information so they can easily learn about their rights and responsibilities. The ministry's Workplace Gateway project will provide businesses with easy access to comprehensive information about workplace health and safety compliance. The government is also actively moving ahead with changes in regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to improve workplace health and safety, such as enhanced safety training for mining smelter workers, revised regulations affecting deep mining, new standards for training of commercial divers, and a new system to ensure limits for exposure to chemicals in the workplace are updated and improved regularly. Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- GOVERNMENT ACTS TO INCREASE ENFORCEMENT OF WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY With the announcement of the hiring of 200 health and safety enforcement staff over two years, the McGuinty government is taking positive action to address concerns about inadequate enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These issues have been raised by business, labour, and other members of the Minister's Health and Safety Action Group as well as other stakeholders. The Minister's Health and Safety Action Group enlists experts by sector to identify best practices, programs and policies and implements them swiftly. - In 2003, Ontario had the lowest ratio of health and safety inspectors to workforce in Canada (3.8 per 100,000 workers). With the addition of 100 new inspectors, Ontario's rate will rise to 5.4 per 100,000 workers, placing it ahead of Alberta (5.0 per 100,000 workers) and Saskatchewan (4.9 per 100,000 workers), but lower than British Columbia (9.2 per 100,000 workers). - Since 1996, the number of inspectors fell from 278 to 205. - In January 2004, the ministry recruited 25 new inspectors who have now completed their training, raising the number of inspectors to 230. - This new enforcement initiative will result in another 100 inspectors being hired this year, with recruitment beginning in July. The inspectors should be hired by November 2004, and trained by February 2005. Another 100 enforcement staff will be added in 2005. - The annual cost of the 100 inspectors being hired in 2004/2005 is $14 million, which will be funded by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. Workplace Injuries and Death - Every year, there are approximately 100,000 lost-time injuries (LTIs) and another 200,000 injuries occur where people need medical aid but do not result in time being lost from work. - A 20 per cent reduction over four years would result in approximately 20,000 fewer LTIs and 40,000 fewer non-lost time injuries per year by 2008. Work-related Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities in Ontario(1) Injuries from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Year Lost-Time Injuries(2) No-Lost-Time Injuries(3) Total (LTI) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1997 101,806 168,463 270,269 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1998 97,190 166,833 264,023 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1999 100,726 178,786 279,512 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2000 104,154 190,549 294,703 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2001 98,359 184,999 283,358 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2002 95,568 185,161 280,729 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fatalities(4) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Year Ministry of Labour(5) WSIB (traumatic WSIB fatalities, (occupational year allowed)(6) diseases, year allowed)(7) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1997 54 64 94 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1998 62 88 91 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1999 61 85 134 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2000 69 107 143 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2001 72 105 166 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2002 62 110 205 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2003 73 n/a ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Disponible en français For more information visit www.gov.on.ca/lab/ -------------------------------------- (1) Source: WSIB Statistical Supplement (status of claims as of March 31 in the year following the injury). (2) A lost-time injury is where the worker cannot return to work the next day because of work-related injury or illness. (3) A no-lost-time injury is a work-related injury where the worker is not paid money by the WSIB to replace wages that were lost because of absences from work but where medical costs were paid by the WSIB. (4) Source: WSIB Statistical Supplement. (5) Ministry of Labour fatalities are work-related deaths of workers as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act that are investigated by MOL inspectors (not including occupational disease). (6) WSIB Traumatic fatalities include deaths from traffic accidents while working, the deaths of federally regulated workers, and other work- related deaths that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (not including occupational disease). (7) Source: WSIB Statistical Supplement. Contact Info For further information: Contacts: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Contacts: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405