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By: Amanda Silliker for Canadian Occupational Safety
Toronto, Ontario, November 26, 2019 - On Friday, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour introduced a new, voluntary program that recognizes employers with successful health and safety programs in place. Employers who qualify for the new Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers program will receive rebates from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) over a three-year period.
“We are unveiling this program because it will promote a safety culture in Ontario’s workplaces, it will encourage organizations to go even further in their safety measures and most importantly, it will help reduce workplace injuries,” said Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton.
Employers from all sectors and of all sizes are invited to participate in the program, which is led by the office of the chief prevention officer (CPO).
“We’re adopting innovative approaches to become a modern regulator,” said CPO Ron Kelusky. “Industry has long asked for rewards for employers who successfully promote health and safety in their workplace.”
To qualify, employers must implement an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) that is accredited by the CPO and they must also meet other criteria, including a third-party audit, worker participation and compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Employers can choose to implement their own OHSMS based on an existing standard that has been accredited by the CPO or develop their own OHSMS and apply to have it accredited.At this time, the CPO has accredited the following national and international standards:
• ISO 45001:2018 – Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
• CSA Z45001-19 – Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
• BS OHSAS 18001:2007 – Occupational health and safety management system – Requirements
• COR 2020 updated Standard to be available to implement in January 2020.
Successfully qualifying employers will be posted on the Ministry of Labour website and be able to brand themselves as “CPO-recognized.” Applications will be available to employers in the new year.
The program is the first of its kind in Canada with similar programs existing in Europe and Japan, the MOL said.
To further build on this program, the WSIB has launched its Health and Safety Excellence program, which aims to help workplaces improve occupational health and safety — no matter where they fall on the OHS spectrum.
The program consists of 36 topics that employers can move through at their own pace, earning rebates — a minimum of $1,000 per topic — and other recognition as they go. This program will help employers develop an OHSMS.“Keeping people healthy and safe is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business,” said Elizabeth Witmer, chair of the WSIB. “We know that health and safety improvements can increase efficiency, encourage innovation and lead to longer-term profitability.”
According to the Ministry of Labour, implementing a successful health and safety management system can lower injuries, decrease workers’ compensation premiums, increase hazard reporting, improve overall safety culture and improve health and safety practices.
“It literally brought tears to my eyes when I heard that between 2014 and 2018 in Ontario, 24 young workers were killed on the job,” said McNaughton. “As a father, that makes me truly sad. One death at a workplace is one too many.”