Labour minister urges everyone to keep health and safety at forefront of their thoughts and actions
Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s labour, training and skills development minister, has issued a statement during North American Occupational Safety and Health Week to mark the province’s inaugural Occupational Safety and Health Day on May 4.
McNaughton urged employers to commit to training and to raising awareness regarding best safety practices and encouraged employees to ensure that they understand their rights and the safest and best ways for handling equipment, technology and hazards.
The province’s labour, training and skills development ministry has certain initiatives in place to address its priority to keep Ontario’s workers safe on the job, including developing guidance for creating a workplace safety plan, offering safety-related webinars and sharing posters that explain workplace practices, cleaning, retail transactions, gardening and landscaping and the handling of equipment. The ministry offers workplace safety posters in the following languages: Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, Gujarati, Igbo, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Oji-cree, Polish, Portuguese, Punjab, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has regularly inspected the worksites of essential frontline workers who build hospitals, testing centres, broadband and other critical infrastructure and has hired more than 100 health and safety inspectors, which marks the highest ever number of inspectors in the province, who have since conducted over 47,000 COVID-19-related workplace inspections.
McNaughton noted that, in the context of the public health crisis and with the recent spread of new COVID-19 variants, workplaces face greater challenges than ever to keep their workers safe and have to deal with new and increased COVID-19 related measures, and the ministry should continue to ensure that worksites of essential workers comply with the applicable rules.
McNaughton recognized that the provincial government, employers, employees and others all have a role to play in helping to prevent injury and illness in the workplace, in their homes and in their communities.
“Together, Ontario can continue to be among the safest places to work in the world,” said McNaughton in the statement. He thanked Jane McKenna, his parliamentary assistant and member of provincial Parliament for Burlington, for working to pass the legislation that created the Occupational Safety and Health Day.
The ministry’s resources for the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace lists certain responsibilities of employers, including ensuring that they understand and comply with their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Employment Standards Act and the COVID-19 response framework. Employers also need to actively screen their workers, to develop a workplace safety plan, to read the applicable sector-specific guidance and to find personal protective equipment and sanitization suppliers.