In 2014, one-half of all fatalities at work in Ontario were in the industrial sector, and that number is on pace to be even higher for 2015, said Kevin Flynn, minister of labour, speaking at the Partners in Prevention conference.
Twenty-eight people died on the job in the industrial sector in 2014.
"I'm not okay with this, and I know you aren't either," said Flynn at the conference in Mississauaga, Ont., on April 28. "What it tells us is that more work needs to be done."
Over the past decade, the number of workplace fatalities in Ontario has remained relatively flat. But the good news is the overall number of workplace injuries in the province has significantly lowered. Injuries have reduced by 40 per cent in the past 10 years, making Ontario one of the safest places to work in the world, said Flynn.
To improve safety, the provincial government is implementing joint health and safety committee sector-specific training standards and it has recently implemented new mandatory working at heights training standards in the construction sector.
Flynn shared that Premier Kathleen Wynne has asked him to develop an action plan to strengthen workplace accident prevention in the construction sector, where the province sees a large portion of its workplace injuries and deaths. A new advisory group has been formed that will advise the government on the development and implementation of a Construction Health and Safety Action Plan. More details will be released in the coming weeks, said Flynn.
When health and safety professionals are looking to overcome a challenge or push their organizations to a new level of performance, they should try to reframe the problem and ask themselves new questions, according to Elizabeth Mills, president and CEO of Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, the association that put on the conference and tradeshow, which had 4,500 attendees.
"We need to turn conventional thinking upside down — put it safely on its ear," said Mills.
It's time to start thinking about what prevention outcome measures should look like in the future, she said.
"Especially as we consider our new world of work, the challenges of sustainability and the new hazards and exposures that we are faced with everyday."
While Mills acknowledged there are many workplaces with excellent health and safety practices in place and safety professionals and CEOs who "genuinely want to make a difference," there are also many who are struggling.
"I hear about the struggle to find relevant and stainable health and safety solutions and the difficulty of making room for the time consuming and hard work of continuous improvement, adaptation to new demands, knowledge shaping and skill building," said Mills.
To solve this, Mills recommended collaboration between professionals and organizations.
"We have to collaborate and continue to bring our diverse perspective and experiences together to come up with new ideas because one idea can spark change," she said. "We have considerable knowledge and acumen that we can draw on. When we work together, we have an enormous impact."
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