As part of the Etobicoke Chapter Speaker series, Graeme Norval, Ph.D., P.Eng. held a presentation and discussion on the Ministry of Labour Prevention Counsel. As a member of the Prevention Council, Graeme works with industrial professionals to advise the Chief Prevention Officer in legislative matters. Graeme covered all aspects and left fielded questions well after his presentation. It was great to see how involved and committed the chapter members were to safety management and education.
On December 24, 2009, a swing stage collapsed sending 4 workers to their deaths and critically injuring a fifth worker. The event sparked a change in the attitudes towards health and safety. An Expert advisory Panel was formed in January 2010. In June 2011, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Safety and Insurance Acts were enacted, and a Chief Prevention Officer was appointed in August 2011. The Prevention Council was formed in 2012 as an advisory group to the Minister of Labour.
Ontario’s workplaces are safe, relative to most other jurisdictions. Yet every year, we have 75-100 workplace fatalities, and an additional 100-150 work-related fatalities. The benefits cost for work-related injuries exceeds $2.5 billion annually. Systemic change is needed if we want to improve these staggering statistics.
The system has shifted its focus to Prevention. All workers and supervisors must have awareness training on their rights and responsibilities. The new Working at Heights training standard mandates training to reduce the frequency of falls. Regulations on Entry-Level Construction training will ensure that all construction workers have an awareness of the specific hazards in their workplaces.
The changing nature of the workplace adds complexity. Most workers are employed in small businesses, of which there are far more than there are Ministry of Labour inspectors. We need to find ways to get the knowledge and training into the hands of small businesses before someone gets hurt. Part of the solution is changing the education system, particularly for engineering and business students.
Speaker: Graeme Norval, Ph.D., P.Eng.