Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Ontario government is launching a recruitment campaign to increase its team of frontline health and safety inspectors by 98 and help ensure workplaces across the province are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With these new hires, there will be more labour inspectors on the ground than ever before in the province’s history.
“Our government is taking the steps necessary to protect Ontario workers on the job and keep our economy on the road to full recovery,” said Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton. “By adding more inspectors we can respond faster to situations as they arise and help make sure that every office, plant, store and job site in this province is safe, during COVID-19 and beyond.
The hiring will increase number of active inspectors in the province to 507, an increase of 24 per cent. Training is set to begin later this fall.
New inspectors will play a key role in protecting workers by checking and enforcing that workplaces are following occupational health and safety legislation. They will have broad powers to:
- inspect any workplace and ensure they have COVID protections in place;
- investigate any potentially hazardous situation, critical injury, fatality and work refusal;
- order compliance with the legislation;
- stop unsafe work from being performed; and
- recommend and initiate prosecutions.
The annual cost for the new inspectors will be $11.6 million. Recruitment of the inspectors will begin in early October 2020.
“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of our workers,” said Minister McNaughton. “By building the largest labour inspectorate in history, we’re in the best position to do just that.”
To help ensure that employers have the resources and equipment they need to keep their employees safe, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the government launched the Ontario Together PPE Directory. With listings for masks, sanitization, eye protection, gowns, gloves and sneeze guards, the directory is another tool to help keep everyone safe while on the job.
Inspectors are provincial offences officers designated under the Provincial Offences Act and are appointed as inspectors under Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Between March 11 and September 8, 2020, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors conducted 19,411 inspections and investigations related to COVID-19 and issued 16,520 orders while on those visits.
Any worker who thinks they are working in unsafe conditions should report their concerns to Ontario’s Health and Safety Contact Centre, at 1-877-202-0008.