Indexing Ontario’s Workplaces – Are they safe and healthy?

Written by: Sam Hancock

Until recently, there hasn’t been a single measure to determine the health and safety of Ontario’s workplaces, and if they are getting any safer year-to-year.

With the new Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Health and Safety Index (HSI) – a first in North America – this information will be readily available each year starting in 2018. The HSI will reflect Ontario’s health and safety performance in one integrated, evidence-based, composite measure.

Based on a set of five components, the Health and Safety Index measures how safe Ontario’s workplaces are, if their safety record is improving and where efforts need to be focused to increase worker safety across the province.

HSI graphic.jpg

The index looks at Ontario’s workplaces overall versus individual locations. The five evidence-based components are:

  1. Prevention – what is being done to avoid risks?
  2. Worker Empowerment – how involved are employees in health and safety at work?
  3. Workplace Culture – what do employees think of health and safety priorities at work?
  4. Enforcement – fines or convictions for poor health and safety practices?
  5. Injuries – the frequency and severity of workplace injuries, and how long it takes people to return to work.

These components are weighted in relation to the other components, then totaled to reach the single index measure that has been designed to offer a more complete and sophisticated picture of progress on occupational health and safety. Data gathered from April 2017 will set the baseline, with the overall measure report being published annually starting in summer 2018.
The objectives of the HSI, aside from measuring the safety of Ontario’s workplaces, include:

  • promoting awareness of workplace health and safety in Ontario,
  • calling on stakeholders to help improve the system’s performance, and
  • starting a productive dialogue about health and safety among stakeholders.

Here’s a handy video from the WSIB explaining how the new index will work:

“Everyone in Ontario has an interest in making workplaces as healthy and safe as possible,” said Tom Teahen, WSIB President and CEO, in a June 2017 news release. “The Health and Safety Index will give an overall view of Ontario’s workplaces so that we know what’s working well, and what needs to work better.”

As the first of its kind, the Index was created so that it can be easily adapted by other workers’ compensation boards across Canada, making it a pan-Canadian effort.

Learn more about how the index works here: WSIB news release