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Government Launches New Workplace Health And Safety Strategy

Archived Backgrounder

Government Launches New Workplace Health And Safety Strategy


Ministry of Labour

Safe At Work Ontario is the McGuinty government's new four-year workplace safety compliance strategy, designed to:

  • improve the health and safety culture of workplaces
  • reduce workplace injuries and illness
  • improve productivity for businesses and strengthen Ontario's economy
  • lessen the burden on the health care system
  • save costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and
  • provide a level playing field for compliant companies.
This strategy builds on the success of the ministry's four-year compliance strategy, which ended this spring. It focused mainly on workplaces with higher than average lost-time injury (LTI) rates and claim costs. Under the new strategy, the ministry will focus on workplaces according to a variety of factors, including:
  • injury rates and associated costs
  • compliance history of companies
  • hazards inherent to the work
  • new businesses
  • size of businesses
  • specific events or incidents (e.g., critical or fatal injuries, or violence)
  • presence of new, young or otherwise vulnerable workers.


  • Ministry of Labour inspectors can refer workplaces to Health and Safety Associations (HSAs) for additional assistance and training.
  • Improved program flexibility and effectiveness in determining the most appropriate workplaces for intervention--the ministry is not limiting its inspections to workplaces with injuries. It is also focusing on workplaces with higher risks of injuries using indicators such as inherent hazards and poor compliance records.

A fundamental component of this new plan is the development of annual sector-specific plans that provide the flexibility to focus on sector specific hazards and characteristics. The ministry has developed strategies for industrial, health care, construction and mining sectors which specify how the new identification criteria will be used.

The results of the inspection will determine the level of engagement and frequency of subsequent inspections for that workplace.

The ministry will also continue to work with our system's education and prevention partners, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and the Health and Safety Associations (HSAs), to identify and engage employers with high rates of injury.


The Ministry of Labour has a primary responsibility to ensure that workplaces comply with Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act and related legislation.

A strong health and safety workplace culture consists of:

  • Competence (appropriate knowledge and training, systems for responding to events, properly functioning JHSC and other IRS components)
  • Commitment (demonstration by the employer of leadership on health and safety, appropriate policies and procedures to protect workers, low tolerance for poor health and safety practices, insistence upon full compliance), and
  • Capacity (adequate resources for preventing injuries, good system for obtaining assistance from HSAs and the WSIB).


For more information, employees and employers may call the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Health and Safety Inquiries line at 416-326-3835 (in the GTA) and 1-800-268-8013 (province-wide)

Written information--including occupational health and safety fact sheets--can be accessed via the Ontario Ministry of Labour's website.



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