TORONTO — The Ontario government has hired over 100 new occupational health and safety inspectors in a bid to boost business inspection campaigns, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton announced March 3.
The new inspectors have begun a condensed training program, and will begin making field visits, with a mentor, within five weeks of their start date. They are scheduled to be fully trained and deployed by July 1, 2021.
“As the province continues to reopen, we need businesses of all sizes to do better as there are no shortcuts to safety,” said McNaughton in a release. “With a new total of more than 500 inspectors, our government is building the largest team of inspectors in Ontario’s history to educate business owners, enforce public health measures and keep workplaces safe now, and for many years to come.”
Ontario’s provincial offences officers have conducted 13,374 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021, issuing 9,480 orders and 373 tickets, and stopped unsafe work 15 times.
Over the previous week, 110 provincial offences officers in eastern Ontario, Durham Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph visited 1,081 workplaces, the majority of which were small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. The two-stage inspections provide COVID-19 education and guidance for small businesses in the first round, followed by more enforcement-oriented inspections on follow-up visits, the release explained.
Additional two-stage campaigns, focusing on small businesses, are scheduled to take place in York Region on March 5 and 6, Windsor Essex on March 6 and Waterloo Region from March 11 to 16.
Inspection blitzes will target big-box stores and the farming sector, focusing on the ministry’s “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, which hones in on areas of high transmission such as lunchrooms and break areas. In the most recent two-week campaign in Peel Region, inspectors visited 208 warehouses and distribution centres and issued 26 tickets. The most common areas of non-compliance were related to safety plans, screening and masking.