From The Ministry of Labour – Prevention Office Quick Update for Summer
Inside Prevention – Summer 2014 Edition
A short update on the latest occupational health and safety activity at the Ontario Ministry of Labour‘s Prevention Office
George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer
When Tony Dean completed the Expert Advisory Panel Report on Occupational Health and Safety, he set the bar high for both transparency and engagement. Thanks to the work he did, my goals are clear — and that‘s to keep asking the right questions, keep looking for opinions from every corner of the province and to keep listening. My promise to you is to do just that.
I‘ve been asked to transform the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) system in Ontario. That means my job is to make certain that every ounce of energy put into the OHS system contributes to keeping Ontario workplaces the safest. I know that sounds obvious, but it‘s a complicated system and so many of us are passionate about what we are doing right now. What if we could collect all that passion and focus it on what the evidence tells us is the most critical? It would be an OHS roadmap to success!
We‘ve just introduced the Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces strategy, which is exactly that roadmap. We‘ve used statistical research to set priorities for what needs to be done and have created a province wide work plan to help us focus our efforts. When we are all working towards the same priorities as a team, all that passion is magnified and our collective voices are louder. As Andrew Carnegie put it, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. That is the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
We‘ve put a whole lot of the energy into three key areas:
- analyzing the data so we know what‘s critical
- setting up the framework so we know where we are going
- ensuring those with the most passion are equipped to lead us to our collective goal
Now that we have the strategy in place, we can align all our efforts to ensure we have integration across the system. Working at Heights is our first test — training, aligning inspections, radio ads, social media, and marketing.
My team at the Prevention Office is working with our stakeholders to ensure we are collaborating on everything from key messages to our delivery systems and how we measure what we‘re doing. The Health and Safety Associations are working toward aligning activity and their knowledge. Their support remains invaluable as we reach out to each sector.
We are all partners, working hard to transform the OHS system in Ontario so that we can eliminate workplace tragedies. When that happens we will have the satisfaction of knowing we each played a part in a successful collaboration, and that we got it right.
Cordelia Clarke Julien, Director of Training & Safety Program
Our team, in the Training and Safety Programs area, is dedicated to developing new training standards to create safer workplaces across the province. We‘ve been busy working with stakeholders on a number of initiatives. Take a look online for the NEW Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Certification Training Standards we‘ve just released.
2014 JHSC Certification Training Program Standard
2014 JHSC Certification Training Provider Standard
It is anticipated that these standards will come into effect in early 2015. In the meantime, the current Certification Standards for Joint Health and Safety Committees, May 1996, (updated January 2007) remain in effect.
These 2014 standards and certification requirements would include:
Part One training that would be generic to all workplaces where certified JHSC members are required, regardless of sector, and would have to be taken from an approved training provider.
Part Two training that would be sector-specific and would be formalized with approved training programs taken from approved training providers.
Starting this summer, we will conduct industry focus groups on specific aspects of the JHSC training, across all sectors, beginning with the mining sector. The focus groups on mining hazards will be held in conjunction with a comprehensive mining safety review currently being led by the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). If you are interested in participating in JHSC focus groups, please contact us at MOL.TrainingPrograms@Ontario.ca.
I also want to remind everyone that as of July 1, 2014 all employers in Ontario are required by regulation to start ensuring that all of their workers and supervisors have completed mandatory occupational health and safety awareness training. Employers can choose to use their own programs or the ministry‘s training program, which is available in several ways for free — including e-learning modules located at www.Ontario.ca/LearnToWorkSafe.
To support workplaces in meeting these new requirements we‘ve just made employer guidance tools available on our website for those who want to:
- Assess their current programs for gaps
- Develop a new or modify a current template for keeping records of the required training
- Check what a worker and/or supervisor knows about the Occupational Health and Safety Act
You can find information about all of our learning programs and guidance tools by emailing us at MOL.TrainingPrograms@ontario.ca.
Many of our stakeholders participated in the consultations we conducted on the proposed Working at Heights Training Provider Standard. We‘ll be taking a very close look at all the feedback we received and will keep stakeholders updated.
Last but not least, we have a new Working Group that‘s been convened to discuss entry-level training in construction. This group has 12 members representing both labour and employers, from the four primary sectors across the industry — Residential Homebuilding (new and renovation), Industrial Commercial Institutional, Civil Engineering (roads, sewers and water mains), and Heavy Industrial (pipelines and electrical power systems). The mandate of the group is to provide recommendations to the CPO about potential training and training provider standards that will reduce the number of illnesses, injuries and fatalities in construction, particularly for new entrants to the construction sector. It will also improve the consistency and quality of training provided to workers. Training standards can help to improve the knowledge level of everyone in the workplace about hazards in construction and ensure we all know how to identify and control hazards to stay safe and come home healthy every day. While this is now in very early stages, we expect to have consultations with our stakeholders in the future so all voices can be heard. We will also keep our website up to date so you know when this will happen.
Brian Lewis, Director of Strategy & Integration Branch
Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces: A Strategy for Transforming Occupational Health and Safety has now been released. It provides a vision, goals and priorities for the OHS system, and a performance measurement framework through which we will evaluate how much progress we are making.
The response to ’Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces‘ has been very supportive, reflecting the open and inclusive approach taken towards developing the strategy. The words transparency and consultation became truly meaningful when we went out and talked to people about developing a new strategy for occupational health and safety in Ontario. This consultation engaged a very wide group with a big effort to reach:
- workplace representatives
- occupational health and safety professionals
- small businesses
- vulnerable workers
- labour groups
- employer associations
- ethno-cultural groups
We had over 60 consultation meetings with 1,250 stakeholder-participants voicing their opinions. Along with these in-person meetings, we received almost 200 written responses to our discussion paper online. The feedback we received included a broad range of views on the way forward for occupational health and safety in Ontario, with a clear consensus on a number of priority areas that were ultimately reflected in the strategy.
Now that the strategy has been released, we are turning our attention to implementation so we can deliver on our priorities. We are setting up a network to support each of the six strategic priorities, with each network being supported by a number of task or issue-specific working groups. This way we can align existing activity through collaboration while identifying areas that require more effort. For example, we have an action plan to prevent falls from heights where multiple groups are collaborating to share options and ideas. These collaborations are helping to eliminate overlap or duplication between activities, ensuring we get the most value from our efforts.
In addition to implementing the strategy, we‘ve made significant progress on occupational health and safety research. A new Occupational Health and Safety Research Advisory Panel has been established, which is building on the success of the previous WSIB Research Advisory Council. This new panel will deliver diverse thought leadership and provide a fresh view of the research mandate for the Prevention Office. The members of this panel have been announced and they guided the ministry through its first-ever open call for research. They advised on the Research Opportunities Program, in which led to 13 research grants worth $2.8 million being awarded, which were aimed at improving health and safety for Ontario workers. The research projects focused on vulnerable workers, small businesses, safety in construction, safety for healthcare workers and workers engaged in high-hazard jobs. These projects were submitted by some of the top research institutions in the province, like the Institute for Work & Health, the University of Waterloo, Laurentian University, the University Health Network, Cancer Care Ontario, Sunnybrook Hospital, McMaster University, the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto.
Ayumi Bailly, Director of Stakeholder & Partner Relations
I am the newest member of the Senior Management Team and bring a somewhat different perspective to the Prevention Office team than many of my colleagues, whose expertise in health and safety I have immense respect for. Over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to have opportunities to work in a wide variety of areas, including environmental planning, pay equity, human rights, administrative law, public sector governance and ethics, and most recently, philanthropy supporting Ontario non-profits striving to address access to justice for the most vulnerable among us. My responsibilities have always required me to work with numerous and diverse stakeholders to keep focused on common goals through periods of significant change.
The role of the Stakeholder and Partner Relations Branch is to support the whole Ministry of Labour. Our collective goals include enhancing our relationships with existing stakeholders and building bridges to new stakeholder communities by recognizing Ontario‘s changing workforce demographics. Our collective commitment is to keep improving the ways we interact with stakeholders and in the quality of our engagement.
We have recently created a consultation calendar that you can access on the home page of our website, which we will update regularly to make it easier for stakeholders to know at a glance what initiatives we‘re consulting on. We maintain a dedicated email address —firstname.lastname@example.org — to receive inquiries. We also use this address to send out periodic announcements and messages, so if you are interested in being added to our subscriber list, just write us there and let us know.
I hope to meet as many of you as possible over the coming months, and invite you to contact me at any time at Ayumi.Bailly@ontario.ca.