Ontario government unveils program rewarding safe employers
UPDATE: WSIB program to provide employers with policy roadmap
Ontario will reward its safest employers with an estimated $140 million for excellence in occupational health and safety, as part of a new program unveiled in Toronto on Nov. 22.
The program — Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers — will formally recognize employers who successfully implement health and safety programs. The financial rewards will come in the form of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) rebates over a three-year period.
“We know that good health and safety practices save lives,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “But they also save money. This program is a reflection of that fact.”
“Our government wants to do everything it can to make workers safer and help businesses save money.”
According to the Ontario government, research has shown that organized, systematic approaches to health and safety increase worker participation in workplace 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, states a government news release.
“This is a big step for Ontario’s health and safety community as we continue to move forward in protecting workers,” said Ron Kelusky, Ontario’s chief prevention officer (CPO).
“We’re adopting innovative approaches to become a modern regulator. Industry has long asked for rewards for employers who successfully promote health and safety in their workplace.”
The program is open to any employer in Ontario, regardless of size or sector. Led by the Office of the CPO, this ministry program was developed based on feedback from labour, employers and other stakeholders.
The WSIB is also building on the program by launching Health and Safety Excellence, in an effort to promote 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.
“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,” said Elizabeth Witmer, chair of WSIB in Toronto.
The program offers a comprehensive approach to workplace health and safety meant to streamline improvements for Ontario businesses, whether they’re just starting out or want to optimize processes that are already in place, said a WSIB news release.
Consisting of 36 topics, businesses can proceed at their own pace, earning rebates and other recognition as they go. Concluding the program makes businesses eligible for the Ontario government’s accreditation program.
The WSIB program offers Ontario businesses:
- support and guidance from WSIB-approved providers
- opportunities to network and share best practices with other like-minded businesses
- reduced risk associated with hazards and a better health and safety culture in their workplace
- rebates on premiums — a minimum of $1,000 per topic for small businesses, up to 75 per cent of their WSIB premium
- recognition to show customers, investors and jobseekers their commitment to health and safety.
“This new program is part of an overhaul of our premium rates to give businesses the data they need and incentives to make a clear business case to invest in health and safety improvements,” said Tom Teahen, WSIB president and CEO.