MRO Magazine

IAPA health and safety association celebrates 90th anniversary

Mississauga, ON Operating in Ontario since 1917, the IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association) marks 90 y...

Health & Safety

July 18, 2007
By MRO Magazine

Mississauga, ON Operating in Ontario since 1917, the IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association) marks 90 years of working to make workplaces healthier and safer on July 17, 2007, with anniversary celebrations planned at its Ontario offices in Mississauga (head office), London, Ottawa, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay.

The landscape of health and safety has changed considerably in the past 90 years, says IAPA president and chief executive officer Maureen Shaw. For example, in our archives, weve found early references to fire emergency plans requiring rope to be attached to the windows of every factory more than two storeys high to allow for injury-free evacuation.

“Ninety years later, we know that the concept of emergency preparedness is top of mind. Today, many businesses are acting on the business advantage that health and safety in the workplace represents. Its incredible to know IAPA has been a part of that evolution.

The Workmens Compensation Act of 1914 paved the way for the formation of industry safety associations in Ontario. By 1917, there were 22 such organizations 19 of them amalgamated to form the single operating body that is IAPA.


Since 1917, individuals at the helm of IAPAs operations have included a recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal, R.G.D. Anderson; a member of the Order of Canada and former Ontario minister of labour, Russ H. Ramsay; and a recipient of the Calgary YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the first woman to chair the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Council, current president and CEO, Maureen Shaw.

From its very beginnings to present day, IAPA has actively engaged in addressing the workplace health and safety needs of communities across Ontario, as well as representing Canada internationally on health and safety issues. While IAPAs initial focus was on providing a workplace inspection force, the Association has evolved to be a source of training, consulting, educational services, and knowledge exchange, furthering its efforts to improve the quality of life in workplaces and communities, as well as prevent work-related injuries, illness, and fatalities.

Highlights from the last 90 years at IAPA include:

– In 1953, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth bestowed the Coronation Medal on IAPA, in recognition of the humanitarian effort of the Association and its volunteers.
– The first Canadian woman in space, Roberta Bondar, attended IAPAs annual health and safety conference and trade show in 1988.
– In 2007, notable Canadians at the 2007 IAPA annual conference and trade show included Craig Kielburger and Stephen Lewis.
– The growth of its annual health and safety conference from 250 people in 1917 to more than 6,000 in 2007.
– Being at the forefront of providing solutions to then emerging health and safety issues: hazardous substance and equipment hazard evaluation (1960s), loss control management (1970s), occupational stress (1980s), ergonomics (1990s), and corporate social responsibility (2000 – present).
– As of 2007, IAPA is working to address such present and future workplace concerns as return to work, musculoskeletal disorders, motor vehicle incidents, workplace violence and harassment, occupational disease, and mental health.
– In 1928, IAPA represented Canada at safety meetings of the International Labour Conference in Geneva and participated in drawing up the Model Safety Code for Industrial Establishments, published by the International Labour Office, and recommended the creation of the Centre for Information Services.
– In 2002, IAPA would be named an International Labour Organization Collaborating Centre one of only two in Canada, and in 2003, a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health one of only three in Canada.
– The creation of IAPAs Information Centre in 1977, one of the first official specialized collections of occupational health and safety resources, containing more than 300 journals, 8,500 texts and reports, and 15,000 indexed articles.
– Launching the Young Worker Awareness Program in 1996, in partnership with the Workers Health and Safety Centre and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, followed by the creation of IAPAs LINK program in 1999 two ongoing community outreach programs that raise awareness about young worker health and safety and reach tens of thousands of young people each year.
– Named one of the best places to work in Canada in Canadas Top 100 Employers by Richard Yerema, 2000 2004.
– Helped to bring the world of health and safety to Toronto by co-hosting the International Association of Labour Inspectors Conference 2007, with the International Association of Labour Inspectors and the Ontario Ministry of Labour, attended by over 500 delegates from more than 56 countries.

Shaw adds, The focus on the physical well-being of workers has only strengthened during the past 90 years, but the founders of IAPA would be in awe at how the concept of a safe and healthy workplace has evolved to include emotional well-being, an individuals health practices, and the social culture of an organization. However, IAPAs role in the health and safety system is no less important today than it was in 1917. People are still getting sick, injured, and killed on the job. There is still plenty of work to do.

IAPA is a not-for-profit workplace health and safety organization representing more than 50,000 member firms and in excess of 1.5 million Ontario workers. For more information on IAPAs products, programs, and services, call 905-614-4272 or toll-free 1-800-406-4272, or visit