Ontario Businesses Making Workplaces SaferPublished on March 17, 2021
Inspectors See Increase in Compliance with COVID-19 Safety Requirements
The Ontario government is seeing a greater number of small businesses complying with COVID-19 safety requirements. During follow-up visits for educational workplace safety campaigns, provincial offences officers found that approximately 73 per cent of businesses were in compliance with public health measures and compliance increased by 20 per cent.
"The overwhelming majority of small business owners are protecting their workers and customers from COVID-19. Sometimes they just need a bit of help, which we're here to provide," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "With inspectors out every day across the province, this balance of education and enforcement is ensuring businesses of all sizes follow the rules. Our government's education-focused workplace safety blitzes have demonstrated that businesses are learning to operate safely during COVID-19 and appreciate the support and guidance from the province."
From February 25 to 28, 110 provincial offences officers conducted over 1,000 COVID-19 related workplace safety visits in Durham Region, Eastern Ontario and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. The majority of the visits were made to small businesses, with fewer than 25 employees, which had been closed during the provincial shutdown. Follow-up visits in early March have shown significant improvement, especially in the areas of masking, screening and using COVID-19 workplace safety plans.
Workplace inspections continue to focus on educating small businesses across the province to help them reopen safely. Where needed, follow-up visits were conducted with a focus on enforcement. Follow-up visits are currently taking place in Eastern Ontario, Durham Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and are scheduled for York Region, Waterloo Region and Windsor-Essex.
"Throughout the pandemic, local business owners have really appreciated the collaborative efforts made by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU)," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU medical officer of health. "We have been working diligently with local business owners and operators to ensure they are aware of the role they play in maintaining public health measures and ultimately protecting the public. When employees and employers work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, they are doing their part to support the local economy and their community."
Occupational health and safety inspectors and multi-ministry teams of provincial offences officers have conducted more than 15,800 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021. During those visits, they've issued over 11,900 orders and 410 COVID-19 related tickets, and stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 20 times.
These initiatives, in consultation with local public health units, include targeted blitzes of big-box stores, small businesses and the farming sector, with a particular focus on areas of high transmission such as breakrooms.