The province of Ontario is taking a giant step forward in implementing more comprehensive safety programs. George Gritziotis, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer, recently announced the establishment of the Ontario Prevention Council, an eleven-member body tasked with helping to improve health and safety across the province.
Made up of four labour representatives, a non-union labour representative, four employer representatives, an occupational health and safety expert and a representative from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the Prevention Council will provide support for Gritziotis and advise the Minister of Labour on:
- Prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Development of a provincial occupational health and safety strategy.
- Proposed changes to funding and delivery of services for the prevention of workplace injuries and occupational diseases.
“Our ultimate and shared goal is to eliminate work-related injury and illness,” said Minister of Labour, Linda Jeffrey.
Prevention Council member Patrick Dillon, the Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, has been saying for years that perspectives need to change—that proactive prevention is a better approach than due diligence.
“I believe we need people to come together representative of everybody in our workplaces—government and financial institutions, everybody—and get our heads around what it takes to cause that culture shift,” he said. “I’m looking forward to sitting down at the Prevention Council with the mixture of people that are there to work on just that.”
The formation of the Prevention Council was one of the 46 recommendations made in the Report of the Minister of Labour’s Expert Advisory Panel on Health and Safety, which was released by Tony Dean and his Expert Advisory Panel back in December 2010.
Gritziotis said the council will also look at other recommendations from the Dean Report, such as support for small business and vulnerable workers, and the idea of an integrated strategy across occupational health and safety system.
So what does this mean for your business? One of the Council’s priorities is to establish adequate standards in the areas of training and certification. It will also look at other ways to reduce the number of preventable fatalities. There may be changes in the way services designed to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses are funded and delivered.