Government asks for public input on workplace safetyWednesday, March 20, 2013 by: Kate AdamsWorkplace Safety North
As part of the Ministry of Labour’s announcement of the development of Ontario’s first province-wide occupational health and safety strategy, the government has issued a call for public feedback.
Following the tragic workplace incident on Christmas Eve 2009 in Toronto, where four construction workers lost their lives and another was seriously injured when the high-rise scaffold they were using collapsed, the Minister of Labour (MOL) appointed an Expert Advisory Panel – made up of province-wide representatives from organized labour, employers and the academic community – to review Ontario’s occupational health and safety system. One year later in December 2010, the panel released its report with 46 recommendations.
The government accepted all 46 recommendations and has since moved responsibility for prevention from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to the Ministry of Labour. This included the creation of the new position of Chief Prevention Officer, a Prevention Council, and a Prevention Office.
Each of us affected by workplace health and safety
Everyone is affected by occupational health and safety, says Workplace Safety North CEO Candys Ballanger-Michaud: “Whether you work outside the home or not – everything we do is governed by health and safety in the workplace. From large corporations and industries like mining, forestry, and paper products right down to your local small businesses, it’s all around us when we shop in stores, buy products and services, or travel the roads.”
The Ministry of Labour is asking for public input, feedback and ideas, and has launched a consultation paper available in 16 languages that focuses on how the system could improve its health and safety reach and assistance. In particular, as it relates to vulnerable workers and small businesses; defining high-hazard work and training standards; how to better protect workers from occupational disease; and improving overall compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and access to relevant products and services. People also have the option of e-mailing their comments to PreventionConsulation@ontario.ca.
“It’s so important that people speak up about their experiences – your contribution could save a life,” says Ballanger-Michaud. “The government especially wants to hear from small business, vulnerable workers, those living with occupational disease, and anyone concerned about health and safety in the workplace.
“The questions the consultation paper asks are really quite straightforward, such as: ‘What could help small businesses and their workers have a safe and healthy workplace?’ and ‘What additional steps could the system take to protect workers from occupational disease?’
Public input to guide government’s work in years ahead
Public input will be used to establish a clear vision, goals and priorities to guide the government’s work in the years ahead. “I’m really looking forward to hearing about the results,” adds Ballanger-Michaud, “since Workplace Safety North will play a vital role in helping implement the outcomes from this consultation paper.”
Vulnerable workers such as those who fill temporary positions or have English as a second language, small businesses, and those living with occupational disease – or any chronic ailment stemming from work – are especially requested to respond to this call for input, as well as anyone concerned about health and safety in the workplace. This is an opportunity for citizens to help shape public policy and improve workplace safety. Feedback will be accepted up to Friday, May 17.
North Bay-based organization oversees forestry, mining, and paper, printing, and converting
An independent not-for-profit health and safety organization, Workplace Safety North was formed in 2010 with the amalgamation of three key safety associations: Mines and Aggregates Safety and Health Association (MASHA), Ontario Forestry Safe Workplace Association (OFSWA), and the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Association (PPHSA); with a focus on a unified, streamlined approach to health and safety.
As the health and safety specialist for forestry, mining, and paper, printing, and converting for the province of Ontario, WSN offers consulting, training, resources, risk assessment, safety auditing, and confidential consultations. Upcoming training programs include Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification, Occupational Health and Safety Accountability for Management, and Act & Industrial Regulations Legislative Awareness.
Sudbury to host Mining Health and Safety Conference next month
From April 16 to 18 in Sudbury, WSN will play host to more than 300 attendees at the upcoming Mining Health and Safety Conference. Along with a trade show and series of seminars, the sold-out annual event features guest speakers such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Hallinan speaking on ‘Why We Make Mistakes,’ Dr. Mary Waller reporting on her ground-breaking research with Ontario Mine Rescue regarding emergency communication, and Dr. Linda Duxbury, a leading Canadian workplace health researcher.
Free health and safety resources for businesses
Free business resources are available online at workplacesafetynorth.ca and include documents and presentations such as Bill 160 - Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Poster and Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps.
Ontario businesses can request WSN assistance with a risk assessment to help strengthen and optimize their workplace safety program. Confidential consultation is available by calling toll-free in Ontario 1-888-730 7821 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.