Businesses offered help to strengthen health and safety

Archived Release

Businesses offered help to strengthen health and safety

"Last Chance" For 5,000 Workplaces To Improve Safety TORONTO, March 22 - The McGuinty government is giving 5,000 workplaces a "last chance" to voluntarily improve their health and safety records, Labour Minister Christopher Bentley announced today. "We believe most businesses want to do the right thing and create a culture where health and safety are priorities," Bentley told a graduating class of 100 new health and safety inspectors. "To achieve this, the ministry will work with our prevention partners to help 5,000 workplaces improve their health and safety performance. The result will not only be safer workplaces but also substantial savings to these businesses from increased productivity." The strategy is part of the government's plan to cut workplace injuries by 20 per cent or 60,000 by 2008. As part of their prevention mandate, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and five health and safety associations will contact the 5,000 workplaces this year, offering assistance and support to make these sites safer. If the assistance does not result in significant improvement, these businesses will attract the heightened attention of the Ministry of Labour normally reserved for high-risk workplaces. The workplaces chosen for assistance have had a health and safety performance marginally better than those firms with the highest injury rates. For those highest-risk workplaces, estimated to be 6,000 in the province, the ministry is using additional inspection and enforcement measures with the 100 newly hired inspectors. These highest-risk sites will be inspected four times a year, with a focus on workplace hazards so these 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. "This graduated approach, using education, assistance and enforcement, will reduce the number of workplace injuries and fatalities," said Bentley. "This will result in less pain and suffering, and we estimate will save the WSIB about $300 million. As well, companies that work more safely will see a positive impact on their bottom line because the average lost time accident costs a business $58,000." ------------------------------------------------------------------------- BACKGROUNDER ------------------------------------------------------------------------- REDUCING WORKPLACE INJURIES The McGuinty government plans to reduce workplace injuries by 20 per cent through a comprehensive, integrated health and safety strategy using education, training, legislation/regulation and enforcement. 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. Targeting poor performers (The High Risk Initiative) The government's plan will focus on workplaces with the highest injury rates and costs. More than 30,000 workplaces, representing ten per cent of the companies insured by the WSIB, are responsible for some 40 per cent of all injuries and costs incurred. These workplaces were determined based upon the cost of their lost-time injuries since January 1, 2000. By assisting and educating these workplaces with high injury rates on healthier and safer work practices - 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. This will have significant benefit for Ontario's health and safety system and the quality of life for the people of Ontario. The bottom two per cent - 6,000 high-risk workplaces - are being targeted by Ministry of Labour inspectors. The ministry has hired an additional 100 inspectors, who have now graduated from their first phase of training and are being deployed across the province. An additional 100 inspectors will be hired by March 2006. 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. Assistance to other high-injury workplaces (The Last Chance Initiative) The remaining high-injury workplaces that are not currently targeted for inspections will be offered assistance to voluntarily improve their health and safety performance. These workplaces will be contacted by the WSIB and the relevant health and safety association, and offered education, assistance and support to deal with their health and safety challenges. This assistance will be offered to 5,000 workplaces per year for five years. Regular ministry oversight will continue, even if the workplace accepts the assistance. Five sectoral health and safety associations are involved in this initiative: - The Industrial Accident Prevention Association (agri business, ceramics and stone, chemicals and plastics, food and beverage, high tech, leather, rubber and tanners, metal trades, printing trades, textile and allied industries and woodworking) - The Ontario Service Safety Alliance (wholesale, restaurant and food, hospitality, office and related services) - The Health Care Health and Safety Association (nursing care, homes for residential care, hospitals, nursing services, group homes, treatment clinics and services) - The Construction Safety Association of Ontario (construction) - The Electrical and Utilities Safety Association (generation, oil, power and water distribution, power line clearing and telecommunications lines contracting and communications industries). The associations will work with the workplaces in their sectors, first offering assistance to deal with immediate problems. They will then work closely with the workplace parties to refocus them toward self-reliance in health and safety through continuous improvement. The ultimate goal is to have these workplaces embrace the Occupational Health and Safety Act and dedicate themselves to a better working environment. Results - benefits to business The combination of education, training, legislation/regulation and aggressive enforcement is expected to achieve the government's goal of reducing workplace injuries by 20 per cent by 2008. Such a reduction would see a real, tangible benefit to businesses through cost savings. Studies have shown that companies with strong health and safety programs have higher productivity and morale. A 20 per cent reduction in injuries should result in an estimated $300 million in cost savings for the WSIB, providing greater stability to the system. As well, workplaces that improve health and safety reduce their operating costs, with a positive impact on the bottom line. The WSIB estimates the average lost time injury/illness costs were $72,000 per injury in 2003. This includes the direct costs to the WSIB of $14,000 in benefit payments, and an additional cost of $58,000 to the workplace. Workplace costs could include such items as management time spent on injury/illness related issues, employee replacement costs, injury investigations, staff communication, overtime for other employees, production delays, equipment repair, compliance with Ministry of Labour orders, WSIB audits, and possible fines. As well, the government's campaign to reduce workplace injuries will help businesses by rooting out those who do not comply with the law to gain an unfair, temporary advantage over their competitors. It will ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- BACKGROUNDER ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONTARIO'S OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY SYSTEM Ontario's occupational health and safety prevention system is a partnership of the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and health and safety associations. This partnership works to create healthy and safe workplaces, with the ultimate goal of preventing all workplace injuries and fatalities. The partners have distinct roles within the system. Ministry of Labour The Ministry of Labour is responsible for overseeing and enforcing provincial legislation and regulations with respect to occupational health and safety. Specifically, the ministry's role is to: - Set, communicate and enforce occupational health and safety standards - Motivate and influence workplaces to reduce or eliminate injury or illness - Create an environment in workplaces where safety, productivity and competitiveness are inter-connected. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) The WSIB oversees Ontario's workplace safety education and training system. It also administers the province's no-fault workplace insurance system for employers and their workers. As part of this system, the WSIB provides disability benefits, monitors the quality of health care, and assists in the early and safe return to work for workers who are injured on the job or contract an occupational disease. The WSIB is paid for entirely by employer premiums and receives no funding from the Ontario government. The WSIB's vision is to eliminate all workplace injuries and illnesses in Ontario. The WSIB is also responsible for promoting, educating and fostering workplace health and safety, and for funding health and safety associations. In addition, the WSIB: - Develops prevention plans and works with the health and safety associations to set prevention targets and objectives - Motivates and influences workplaces to implement good health and safety programs and practices - Raises awareness of the importance of health and safety, in workplaces and the community - Provides information that will help workplaces achieve successful health and safety programs - Conducts research, analysis, and policy work to support strategic and operational functions - Administers legislated training programs (e.g. First Aid, Certification). Health and safety associations Health and safety associations are designated under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as a safe workplace association, medical clinic, or training centre specializing in occupational health and safety matters. These associations work to improve health and safety performance of their clients and communities with the aim of making Ontario workplaces the safest in the world. They are funded by the WSIB and also charge for programs delivered to clients. In 2004, the WSIB provided approximately $83 million to 14 associations. Health and safety associations establish prevention strategies for their sectors, pursuant to standards set by the WSIB. As well, they: - Lead in the development and delivery of injury and illness prevention education, training programs, products and services - Provide audit, consultation and technical services - Raise awareness and provide prevention information - Sponsor conferences and organize seminars - Provide operational expertise to customers - Identify, motivate and influence workplaces to implement good health and safety programs and practices - Develop risk-based prevention plans. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- BACKGROUNDER ------------------------------------------------------------------------- TIMELINE FOR HIRING MINISTRY OF LABOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTORS Marking a major expansion of its health and safety enforcement staff, the Ontario government has hired and trained 100 new health and safety inspectors to help achieve its goal of preventing 60,000 workplace injuries a year by 2008. The new inspectors graduated today and will begin work across the province April 1. With the addition of the new inspectors, the government now has 330 health and safety inspectors on staff. An additional 100 health and safety inspectors will be hired over the next year to complete the government's recruitment drive. By March 2006, the government will have 430 health and safety inspectors on staff. Inspectors are the front line of occupational health and safety enforcement. The government took a number of steps to ensure the most qualified candidates were selected to fill these positions. The following timeline outlines key milestones on the road to becoming a government health and safety inspector: - July 8, 2004 - Labour Minister Christopher Bentley announced the Ontario government would hire 200 new health and safety enforcement staff over the next two years to help prevent 60,000 workplace injuries per year by 2008. - July 30, 2004 - Job postings were advertised across Ontario for the first group of 100 new inspectors. - August 20, 2004 - Job postings were closed. More than 6,600 applications were received. - September 15, 2004 - Applications were screened over the course of four weeks. More than 2,600 applicants underwent aptitude testing. - November 5, 2004 - More than 1,000 first-round interviews were completed. - November 12, 2004 - More than 600 second-round interviews were completed. - November 26, 2004 - Job offer letters were mailed to 100 successful candidates. - December 13, 2004 - New inspectors arrived in their regional offices for orientation. - December 14, 2004 - Inspector orientation and training began in Toronto. - December 15, 2004 - Field information technology training began. - December 20, 2004 - Field training in the ministry's regional offices began. - January 4, 2005 - Three months of in-class and field training began, including training in: - Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) enforcement - Regulations governing Ontario's construction and industrial sectors - Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) enforcement - The government's Code of Professionalism - The operational policies and procedures required to effectively enforce the law. - March 22, 2005 - New inspectors graduated in Toronto. - April 1, 2005 - New health and safety inspectors will begin work across Ontario. The new inspectors will allow the government to target 6,000 workplaces with the highest lost-time injury rates. Inspectors will visit these sites four times a year, focusing on workplace hazards to help firms reduce on-the- job injuries. The government will advertise a second series of job postings to hire an additional 100 health and safety enforcement staff over the next year. Interested individuals are asked to call, toll-free, 1-866-627-7991 or check the Ministry of Labour website www.gov.on.ca/lab/ Duties of a Ministry of Labour health and safety inspector Ministry of Labour health and safety inspectors enforce the OHSA and its regulations. They conduct workplace inspections and carry out investigations of workplace incidents such as injuries, fatalities, complaints, work refusals and allegations of reprisals. Inspectors have authority to enter workplaces to conduct inspections or investigations. Depending on the circumstances, health and safety inspectors have a number of options to ensure compliance with the OHSA, including: - Issuing an order to comply - Issuing a stop work order that stops a process or the use of a machine until the contravention is corrected - Issuing tickets for certain contraventions. An inspector can also commence a prosecution under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act. The maximum penalty if convicted of violating the OHSA is a fine of $500,000 for a corporation, and $25,000 and/or 12 months in jail for an individual. Disponible en fran├žais www.gov.on.ca/lab/For further information: Contacts: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405