Ontario will reward its safest employers with an estimated $140 million for excellence in occupational health and safety as part of a first-of-its-kind in Canada program.
The program, Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers, will formally recognize employers who successfully implement health and safety programs in their workplaces. The financial rewards will come in the form of WSIB rebates over a three-year period.
“We know that good health and safety practices save lives,” says Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “But they also save money. This program is a reflection of that fact.”
Research has shown that organized, systematic approaches to health and safety increase worker participation in health and safety practices, encourage ongoing improvement and help reduce workplace injuries and illness. Similar programs in Europe and Japan have resulted in a decline in workplace accidents.
“This is a big step for Ontario’s health and safety community as we continue to move forward in protecting workers,” says Ron Kelusky, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer. “We’re adopting innovative approaches to become a modern regulator.”
The program is open to any employer in Ontario, regardless of size or sector. The WSIB is also building on the program by launching Health and Safety Excellence, a new program that promotes continual health and safety improvement in Ontario workplaces.
While the provincial program recognizes employers who have already implemented a health and safety management system, the WSIB’s program will encourage employers without an existing program to develop one.
“We know that businesses across the province strive to make their workplaces as healthy and safe as possible for their employees,” says WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer. “Our new Health and Safety Excellence program gives them a roadmap to improve health and safety, whether they’re just getting started or want to optimize processes they already have in place.”
The names of recognized employers will be posted on the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s website. These employers will be able to brand themselves as CPO-Recognized.
Employers may use one of the existing OHSMS standards accredited by the Chief Prevention Officer or they may develop their own system and apply to have it accredited by the province.
For more information, employers can contact the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Prevention Office at SOSE@ontario.ca.