Toronto, ON — The province of Ontario is giving 5,000 workplaces a “last chance” to voluntarily improve their health and safety records, says provincial labour minister Christopher Bentley.
“We believe most businesses want to do the right thing and create a culture where health and safety are priorities,” Bentley told a graduating class of 100 new health and safety inspectors. “To achieve this, the ministry will work with our prevention partners to help 5,000 workplaces improve their health and safety performance. The result will not only be safer workplaces but also substantial savings to these businesses from increased productivity.”
The strategy is part of the government’s plan to cut workplace injuries by 20% or 60,000 by 2008.
As part of its prevention mandate, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and five health and safety associations will contact the 5,000 workplaces during 2005, offering assistance and support to make these sites safer. If the assistance does not result in significant improvement, these businesses will attract the heightened attention of the Ministry of Labour normally reserved for high-risk workplaces.
The workplaces chosen for assistance have had a health and safety performance marginally better than those firms with the highest injury rates.
For those highest-risk workplaces, estimated to be 6,000 in the province, the ministry is using additional inspection and enforcement measures with the 100 newly hired inspectors. These highest-risk sites will be inspected four times a year, with a focus on workplace hazards so these firms reduce on-the-job injuries.
Although these workplaces represent just 2% of all firms insured by the WSIB, they account for 10% of all lost-time injuries and 21% of injury costs in Ontario.
“This graduated approach, using education, assistance and enforcement, will reduce the number of workplace injuries and fatalities,” says Bentley. “This will result in less pain and suffering, and we estimate will save the WSIB about $300 million. As well, companies that work more safely will see a positive impact on their bottom line because the average lost-time accident costs a business $58,000.”