Recommended Changes to Ontario’s Health and Safety System
On December 16, 2010, the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety (“the Panel”), led by Chairperson Tony Dean, released their anticipated “Report and Recommendations to the Minster of Labour”. The Panel was established following the workplace accident on Christmas Eve 2009 which resulted in the deaths of four construction workers. The Panel’s mandate was to conduct a review of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system and report their findings and recommendations to the Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca.
The following is a list of the most notable recommendations made by the Panel in its Report:
- The creation of a new accident/injury prevention organization within the Ministry of Labour, which would include a multi-stakeholder Prevention Council to create, implement and audit safety training standards;
- The creation of a business centre to standardize, manage and disseminate occupational health and safety data, retain and share information on system partner interactions with employers and provide analytical expertise;
- The development of a social awareness strategy to reduce public tolerance of workplace injuries;
- The mandatory creation and posting of a health and safety poster explaining rights and responsibilities of workers;
- Mandatory training for health and safety representatives, safety awareness training for all workers and supervisors, entry-level training for construction workers and mandatory fall protection training for workers working at heights;
- A review by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, in conjunction with the new Prevention Council, of the existing financial incentive programs, with a view to reducing the emphasis on claims costs;
- Developing financial incentives that reward employers who qualify based on their health and safety performance, as well as the development of an accreditation program recognizing employers who successfully implement health and safety management systems;
- A review by the Ministry of Labour of the existing fines for OHSA offences, as well as the addition of administrative monetary penalties as an enforcement tool;
- Better protection for vulnerable workers through the carrying out of proactive inspections and periodic enforcement campaigns at workplaces and within sectors where vulnerable workers are concentrated;
- Improved protection from reprisals for workers including expediting the resolution of reprisal complaints;
- Increased educational awareness of occupational health and safety in Ontario’s secondary and post-secondary school systems; and,
- The development of procurement policies that will consider the health and safety performance of employers.
Our firm will continue to follow all developments which may arise from the Report, including the possibility of amendments to the existing occupational health and safety legislation.