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Ontario seeks feedback on first province-wide occupational health and safety strategy

By Julie King |

ON - Following a tragic accident that saw four construction workers lose their lives and a fifth worker critically injured after a swing stage came apart and collapsed in December 2009, the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety released a report with 46 recommendations.

All recommendations were accepted and the Ministry is now looking for input from employers, workers and other stakeholders as the government prepares its first province-wide occupational health and safety strategy.

As part of the process, the Ministry has provided a consultation paper and is seeking input on a series of questions related to the four main target areas for the strategy:

  • The needs of vulnerable workers;
  • Support for small businesses;
  • Support for high hazard activities; and
  • Effective support for workplace parties.

Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees account for 95 per cent of businesses in the province and employ 1.5 million people, which is approximately 37 per cent of total province-wide private sector employment.

The consultation paper notes that smaller companies face a number of challenges in trying to implement occupational health and safety programs, which include gaps in knowledge, capacity, a belief that some risks are inherent to the job and recognition of the potential for serious injury.

To help address these challenges, the Ministry has created a small business task group in an effort to connect better with small businesses and address the sector's occupational health and safety needs.

They have also posed two discussion questions that address the small business sector:

  • What can help small businesses and their workers have safe and healthy workplaces?
  • How can the occupational health and safety system partners' work with established networks to identify the needs of small businesses and better understand how to address them?

Small business owners and employers are encouraged to share their feedback, which can submitted until May 17, 2013 on the Ministry of labour website.

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