OHNIG Executive Member Louise Caicco Tett writes Summary

Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety: The Tony Dean Report

In December of 2010, a panel of nine experts, chaired by Tony Dean, released a report entitled, “Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety”. It was the result of a year-long review of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Prevention and Enforcement system. The report was prepared for the Honourable Peter Fonesca, Minister of Labour, and includes 45 recommendations.

In general, the report found some common concerns among the stakeholders that gave their input. The concerns included:

  • a lack of coordination and integration, and duplication among prevention resources;

  • prevention and compliance efforts of small business are inadequately supported; and

  • employers, supervisors and workers are unaware of their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Expert Panel recommends that the Ministry of Labour (MOL) should assume responsibility for the co-ordination of prevention program delivery, which is currently the responsibility of the WSIB and other partners. It further recommends that a Chief Prevention Officer, reporting to the MOL, should be appointed. His/her job will be to coordinate and align prevention system strategies, priorities and programs, and oversee Ontario's Health and Safety Associations.

If the report is fully implement, there will be many changes for Ontario businesses, supervisors, and workers. Some of the most significant changes to strengthen the safety culture within businesses would include mandatory OHS training for:

  • health and safety representatives in workplaces which employ 6-19 workers;

  • front-line supervisors;

  • all workers;

  • high-risk hazards which are associated with far too many injuries and fatalities in our province (e.g., working at heights)

The needs of small business have been specifically recognized in this report. To that end, the expert panel recommended that the Ministry of Labour create a small business committee made up of members to represent the needs and interests of employers and workers in the small business sector.

It is recognized that workplaces that focus on health and wellness in their businesses have improved productivity, quality, and profitability. To support this, the expert panel recommended an accreditation program for employers who implement safety management systems.

The Tony Dean report recognized that there are many vulnerable workers in Ontario; new workers, youth, recent immigrants, and foreign temporary workers. There are recommendations to support this group of vulnerable workers and to expedite complaints of reprisals against such workers, and improve protection for them.

It will take changes to legislation to enact many of the recommendations put forth in the Tony Dean report. In the meantime, you can ask yourself the following questions. If you answer no to any of the questions, you can rectify the situation in an effort to be prepared when the changes do take place.

  1. Do your workers, supervisors, and health and safety committees/representatives know their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

  2. Have you identified the significant hazards in your workplace and trained your staff so that they can work safely?

  3. Do you ensure that your vulnerable workers are trained, well supervised, and feel comfortable coming forward with OHS concerns without fear of reprisal?

  4. Do you have a managed safety system in place in your workplace. Consider CSA Z-1000, or ISO-18001. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's Workwell Audit is an excellent tool to assist you in setting up a managed system as well.

To read the full report “Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety: The Tony Dean Report... click here

Louise Caicco Tett
Contributor: RN, BScN, CRSP, President
Health & Safety Professionals Inc. (HSPI) is a health and safety consulting and training firm established in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 1998.
Health & Safety Professionals Inc.
Phone 705-945-0117
Fax 705-254-7365
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