Health and safety advocates have an important opportunity to give feedback on the Ministry of Labour’s proposed standard on employer health and safety accreditation programs.
The 45-day consultation, which closes December, 20, 2017, focuses on the MOL’s Voluntary Occupational Health and Safety Management System Accreditation and Employer Recognition Program for Ontario Workplaces
Last December’s passage of Bill 70 to implement the government budget included unrelated but potentially detrimental legislative changes to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA).
The changes expanded the powers of the Chief Prevention Officer to set standards for and accredit occupational health and safety management systems (OSHMS) and to recognize employers who are certified users of these programs. The changes also allow the government to privatize the processes for setting and approving standards for health and safety training courses and training providers, in addition to employer accreditation.
Feedback from this consultation is critical. It will also guide MOL’s development of a framework to recognize employers who successfully implement an accredited OHSMS.
The MOL is seeking input on the elements to be included in the draft standard and how it might be applied in different workplaces. They say the standard is “intended to recognize excellence in OHS management.”
However, many of the concerns expressed by labour groups during debates over Bill 70 remain unaddressed. These concerns include:
Government insistence on a voluntary standard which would encourage and indeed promote less, not more, health and safety excellence in Ontario workplaces
The potential for accreditation of behaviour-based safety management programs
Lack of independent oversight for these programs
Likelihood of accreditation and/or recognition programs tied to financial incentives which will only encourage underreporting of hazards, injuries and illnesses.
In response, delegates to last week’s Ontario Federation of Labour convention passed an Action Plan which included fundamental principles for an OFL-supported accreditation program. Action 55 read: “Advocate for a mandatory accreditation program through the WHSC [Workers Health & Safety Centre] as the primary organization that collaborates with workers and exceeds the minimum standards required to make meaningful improvements for workers’ health and safety."
Commenting on this development, Dave Killham, WHSC Executive Director observed, “As Ontario’s only labour-endorsed, government-designated health and safety training centre, WHSC remains dedicated to meeting the health and safety training needs of workers and their representatives. Should our labour constituency require our help with the development of a proper health and safety management tool and the training to administer it, we would be happy to assist.”
Deadline for providing feedback to the MOL is Wednesday, December 20, 2017.
Send comments to:
Ministry of Labour
Occupational Health and Safety Management System and Employer Recognition Program
10 Dundas St E, 8th
Toronto, ON M7A 0B2
WHSC offers a range of training programs
and information resources
including many intended to help workers and their representatives fully understand and exercise their legal OHS rights and responsibilities.
To learn more:
Call: 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative.