The Ontario Progressive Conservative government needs to act urgently to implement four priority worker training recommendations from its health and safety expert panel report, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour says.
In a letter to Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, OFL President Patty Coates has called for “an aggressive timeline” to implement the Expert Panel’s unfulfilled training recommendations.
The 2010 Expert Panel report made 46 recommendations, 12 marked for urgent action to be completed within a year. But according to Coates, many recommendations “that could save workers' lives” remain undone.
The Ontario Federation of Labour’s request for a meeting with the Minister on the issue is now backed by signatures of leaders of 15 unions. The OFL president’s initial request for a meeting with McNaughton was made in January, but received no response.
An OFL document sets out four priorities for improved worker training, which would apply to both union and non-union workplaces. Their priorities include training for worker health and safety representatives, hazard training for workers entering the construction industry, higher standard for chemical hazards training, and broader working at heights training.
Working at heights training was implemented in the construction sector in 2016. Research by the Institute for Work and Health found the one-day mandatory training course resulted in a 20 per cent drop in workplace falls, which used to be the leading cause of construction site traumatic deaths.