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Ontario meets injury cuts target, says labour chief

By Mari-Len De Guzman
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The province of Ontario has met its goal of reducing workplace injuries by 20 per cent over a four-year period, according to Minister of Labour Brad Duguid, as he addressed thousands of health and safety professionals at the opening ceremony of Health and Safety Canada 2008.

The province of Ontario has met its goal of reducing workplace injuries by 20 per cent over a four-year period, according to Minister of Labour Brad Duguid.

Duguid made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the Health and Safety Canada event held in Toronto this week. Health and Safety Canada is a yearly conference and trade show hosted by the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA)

[Watch COS's coverage of Health & Safety Canada]

“Four years ago, the former minister of labour set a goal of 20 per cent reduction in workplace injury,” said Duguid. “Today, we have met that goal of 20 per cent reduction.”

The labour minister cited targeted enforcement and targeted prevention practices as significant contributors to meeting the target.

He said the 20 per cent reduction meant 50,000 workers and families “have been saved from pain and suffering” caused by workplace injuries. “The efforts you’ve made have made a difference,” Duguid tells the thousands of health and safety professionals who attended the Health and Safety Canada event this week. [a target="_blank" href="http://www.cos-mag.com/index.php/Health-and-Safety-Canada-2008.html"]

[Browse the Health and Safety Canada 2008 photo gallery]

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The labour minister cited Workplace Safety and Insurance Board data indicating that lost-time injuries cost companies $98,000 in 2006, stressing that workplace safety is not only a worker issue but a bottom line issue for companies, as well.

“Reducing workplace injury is not only the right thing to do, but it’s a smart thing to do for companies across Ontario,” he said.

About 43 per cent of workplace injuries are pains- and strains-related, Duguid said, emphasizing that the Ontario government’s Pains and Strains campaign will “have a big impact” on efforts to reduce workplace injuries

Duguid also urged health and safety professionals to continue to create “strategic partnerships” where everybody plays a critical role in achieving workplace safety.

“We can only be at our best when we are working together,” he said.

IAPA president and CEO Maureen Shaw echoed Duguid’s comment on the importance of worker health and safety to the economics of business.

“Health and safety of workers must be a core value as important to businesses as money,” said Shaw.

The IAPA executive stressed the organization’s commitment to supporting the WSIB’s Road to Zero program, a five-year strategy aimed at eliminating all injuries and deaths in the workplace.

“We shouldn’t accept anything less than zero,” said Shaw. “Historically, Ontario workplaces are the safest ever, and we have to build on those effort to get to zero.”

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