Recent regulatory changes will help to improve workplace health and safety in Ontario.
A new Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training regulation, published Nov.15, comes into force on July 1 next year. Of course, many employers already exceed the minimum training needs; but for those who don’t, it’s a call to take their responsibilities seriously.
This regulation begins the journey toward ensuring workplace conditions that allow all workers in Ontario to return home each day safe and sound. This regulation is part of a continuum —basic workplace health and safety 101 — leading to other training standards, including a working-at-heights training program standard for the construction sector.
I believe that this new awareness training will help to strengthen Ontario’s occupational health and safety culture. We’re providing free, accessible online training and materials to give workplaces the tools and knowledge they need to keep workers safe. You can find these on the Ministry of Labour website: www.ontario.ca/learntoworksafe.
New and young (under 25) workers are particularly vulnerable to workplace injury and need extra care. We must lead them by example — and we must make sure that our examples are good ones.
Furthermore, employers can extend the reach of their commitment to workplace health and safety by demanding that their suppliers meet reasonable workplace health and safety standards.
In 2012, I’m sad to say, Ontario-regulated workplaces experienced nearly 200,000 allowed lost-time injury claims. We must do better. With cooperation and coordination we certainly can do better. We can’t afford not to.
Not only can injuries and illnesses greatly harm the lives of workers and their families, but there are other costs as well. Employers can expect to pay considerable direct and indirect average costs for lost-time injuries. Indirect costs can include property damage, lost production, costs to comply with orders, and manager and supervisor time.
However, these costs pale by comparison with our moral imperative to improve workplace health and safety — which is, of course, priceless.
We will soon publish Ontario’s first Occupational Health and Safety Strategy, a critical step in knitting together various occupational health and safety organizations into a more cohesive system. It reflects in large part the valuable advice of our system partners, for which we are profoundly grateful.
Prevention starts here with you and me — with all of us — right here, right now.
George Gritziotis is Ontario’s first-ever Chief Prevention Officer. Send comments and Industry Perspectives column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org