Workplace safety blitzes

Workplace Inspection Blitzes Raise Safety Awareness

The Ontario Ministry of Labour conducts workplace inspection blitzes.

MOL inspectors regularly enter business facilities to do  workplace inspection blitzes to monitor safety practices. An inspector could show up at your workplace at any time and request evidence that your organization has safety procedures in place to protect employees from safety hazards in your work setting. Is your workplace compliant with the requirements of the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act and the related regulations?

Though you will not get a warning about if or when an inspector will come to your workplace, the MOL does release a schedule and list of safety topics that ourlines the current focus for inspectors. Advertising the areas of focus for workplace inspection blitzes is a public service that helps educate business owners and managers, making them aware of safety risks in certain work settings.

Workplace inspection blitzes are meant to raise awareness about safety hazards in workplaces. The resulting penalties and fines also increase compliance with the OHSA and its regulations. Hopefully by focusing inspections blitzes on high risk safety hazards, there will be a decreased incidence of worker injuries. The ministry regularly reports its findings from workplace inspections and associated penalties and fines that specific businesses received.

The 2017 / 2018 workplace inspections blitzes focus on the following topics: new and young worker safety, supervisor health and safety awareness, falls, machine guarding, electrical hazards, PPE and workplace violence. Though it is expected that a business’ health and safety program consider all safety risks, employers should review the areas of focus on this year’s workplace inspections blitz schedule when doing annual health & safety program reviews.

Learn more about schedules for workplace inspection blitzes in Ontario.

Healthy workplace

Healthy Workplace Thoughts

October is Healthy Workplace month, an initiative that is close to my heart.

My experience as a nurse and a business manager has given me the opportunity to reflect on the value of a healthy workplace.   When individuals are healthy, they are more energetic and capable of achieving great things. Businesses behave similarly. Healthy workplaces are more productive. This benefits the organization and its people.

Healthy workplace means different things to different people. Physical safety and psychosocial support are a component of workplace health. Things that make employees stressed or vulnerable at work are unhealthy and make it harder to get work done.

Every organization and workforce is unique. Sometimes physical safety at a worksite is the biggest concern.   Other workplaces demand a supportive environment where employees feel cared for so they can collaborate and learn. Certain work teams prefer less social support but crave innovation so they are challenged and can work towards professional excellence which translates into organizational success.

Managers must figure out what their workers need to be healthy and productive. Anyone – executives, managers or workers – can suggest ideas which may improve workplace health.  An employee survey is also a great tool to help identify workplace health problems.  Management must then support healthy initiatives and provides leadership to make changes.

Managers who choose to support healthy initiatives understand that a healthy employee is happier and more productive.  Just like when people recover from illness, when a work team supports a workplace wellness idea, amazing things happen.  Excitement develops as individuals work together on a common, positive goal. The workforce becomes more connected, effective and stronger as the team’s capacities improve.

This October’s Healthy Workplace month is a great reason to plan 1or 2 initiatives to improve life at work. Talk to, observe or survey your employees.  Improving workplace health will benefit your organization and employees and create a work environment fit for success.

To learn more, read Excellence Canada’s Healthy Workplace Standard.


workplace diversity

Workplace Diversity – Does your Organization Reflect your Community?

A diverse workplace makes for good business. It  promotes an environment where colleagues, clients and customers are better understood and it’s ultimately more interesting for employees.

A topic that is a constant buzz in the industry is workplace diversity. Many studies have been completed on diversity over the past few years. In addition to workplace studies and reports, we can view online postings about this topic on a daily basis. The reason it remains top of mind is because diversity has become one of the keys to business success.

It may seem like the catchphrase of the moment, but promoting inclusiveness and diversity is one of the best ways to create an accepting and well rounded corporate culture. A diverse workplace makes for good business. It  promotes an environment where colleagues, clients and customers are better understood and it’s ultimately more interesting for employees.

First of all, before actively pursuing and cultivating a diverse employee spectrum, as a people manager you need to understand that workplace diversity can take many forms. It includes culture, gender, nationality, race, sexuality, educational backgrounds and so much more. Knowing what diversity is and implementing it are two different tasks. So the first step is to educate yourself and then move on to creating a diverse workplace.

Four Strategies You Can Implement Today

1. Develop a hiring strategy to make your workforce resemble the community you operate in.

Every organization has a hiring strategy, and it’s simple to include diversity in that strategy.  Research your workplace community and talk  to local organizations to get the attention of potential candidates who reflect the community.

2. Ask existing employees for referrals.

Hiring from employee referrals can result in limiting diversity. However, openly communicating your objective with your employees will improve results. Use existing employees as a referral source and offer rewards for referrals that are successful. This helps twofold by improving employee satisfaction and because they will likely have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work. Consequently, it may also help new employees adjust to a new work environment. 

3. Provide diversity training in your workplace.

The first step to promoting diversity, is understanding what it is. Create programs or committees that educate employees about the importance of diversity and teach them the benefits of a diverse workplace. 

4. Contribute to the cultural diversity of your own workplace.

Workplace diversity can take many forms. Do not underestimate the value you as a people manager can add to the work environment. Regardless of your background, we all offer a unique perspective. Your culture and experiences can enrich the professional experience of those around you. Set an example  by positively contributing to your company culture. 

Workplace Diversity Matters

Creating a workplace where different perspectives are valued and embraced can go a long way to foster productive business relationships. As a manager or director, actively seeking advice, ideas, and expertise from your colleagues will foster a more inclusive company culture. This inclusive culture will, in turn, help your company to retain diverse talent and make your workplace an attractive option for a variety of job seekers.

ontario minimum wage increase october 2017

Ontario Minimum Wage Increase Reminder October 2017

Ontario Minimum Wage Increases October 1, 2017

Effective October 1, 2017, Ontario minimum wage increases from $11.40 to $11.60 per hour.

More Changes to Minimum Wage on the Horizon

Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 passed first reading this spring and will be discussed at committee in the fall before being referred to second reading.

If passed Bill 148 would increase minimum wage to $14 on January 1, 2018 and to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019. Read more about Bill 148 and proposed employment law changes.

workplace hazards

Tell employees about workplace hazards

Did you warn your employees that the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 was a workplace hazard?

Workplace hazards are anything that may cause harm or adverse health effects to a person or property.  If your work setting is outdoors or has windows, then you probably should have warned your workers not to look directly at the sun on the day of the eclipse.  

Take a few moments to consider this long list of items that can put employees at risk while at work.  Workplace hazards include chemicals, lifting, pushing, pulling, lighting, sitting, standing, slips, trips, falls, shift work, musculoskeletal disorders due to poor body position or movements, biological items (insects, animals, plants), pandemics like the flu, temperature, air quality, noise, radiation, stress, violence, bullying, driving, electricity, forklifts and other large machinery, ladders, material handling, raised platforms, tools, confined spaces, indoor air quality, lasers, scents, temperature, ventilation, weather, and working alone. 

There are many, many dangerous items in workplaces.  Employers must control workplace risks and do all that they can to teach employees to work safely with these hazards.

To learn more about the hazards listed above, go to CCOHS hazards web page.

protective equipment cost

Who Should Pay for Personal Protective Equipment?

Is the employer or the worker responsible for paying for Personal Protective Equipment?

Unfortunately the OHS law in Ontario is not clear on who should pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

OHS law requires the employer to ensure workers wear and use PPE. In some circumstances, the law and OHS regulations requires the employer to provide PPE. The OHS law does not make reference to the responsibility for payment.

For an employer who wants control over the safety standard of equipment being used in their workplace, it makes sense to cover the cost of most PPE. 

In some industries such as construction and trades, workers tend to supply their own tools, equipment and PPE. In a small company, workers may be required to purchase their own protective equipment, either directly from the employer or from a list of suppliers. Large companies and unionized workplaces often specify which PPE will be supplied by the employer and which PPE must be supplied by the worker. For expensive and specialized protective equipment the employer typically covers the cost.

Protective Equipment Cost Practices

  • Workers are usually responsible for the cost of safety footwear and clothing. 
  • Employers typically cover the cost of other PPE required in their workplace.