Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in Ontario

Home » Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in Ontario

Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in Ontario

Are you an Ontario-based employer trying to understand provincial workplace safety governing bodies and requirements? Knowing your obligations and ensuring compliance can be challenging. Read on to find out what you need to know to protect your workers.

Ontario employers must understand the health and safety risks most relevant to their industry and workforce. This knowledge allows them to adopt a solid workplace health and safety plan to reduce the incidence of occupational hazards that could result in injury or death.

This article highlights Ontario’s top economic sectors, primary health and safety regulatory bodies, and province-specific health and safety risks and challenges. Employers will also understand where to start when determining the most vital occupational testing services for their organization.

Top Economic Sectors in Ontario

Ontario boasts a diverse economy and is the largest of any province or territory in Canada, at approximately 38 percent of the country’s GDP. As the country’s most populated province, it makes sense that Ontario accounts for such a significant portion of GDP.

The service sector is the province’s most significant, comprising nearly 80 percent of the economy. The goods sector is responsible for the remaining 20 percent of the economy, with manufacturing comprising more than half of this and construction around one-third.

Ontario is also Canada’s leading manufacturing province, covering around 46 percent of the country’s manufacturing GDP. However, as highlighted, the service sector is the most dominant industry. Manufacturing comes in at approximately 12 percent of the province’s total GDP. Other notable industries in Ontario include technology and mining.

Regulatory Bodies in Ontario

Ontario employers must know the provincial organizations governing occupational safety and health. The Ontario Ministry of Labour oversees the province’s health and safety initiatives and legislation and enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).

This Act provides a legal framework to protect Ontario workers from work-related health and safety hazards. It establishes duties for various parties, from employers to owners, supervisors, workers, and supplies, and enforces compliance. Employers can follow guidelines from OSHA (not to be confused with the American organization) to develop measures and procedures for preventing and dealing with workplace hazards.

There are some limitations to OSHA’s application for some farmers and teachers. Also, OSHA does not apply to federally-regulated workplaces, like banks, airlines, post offices, and interprovincial transportation services. Employment and Social Development Canada regulates federal workplaces using the Canada Labour Code.

Ontario employers must also understand sector-specific regulations, such as those for construction projects, mines and mining plants, and health care and residential facilities. The Ontario Ministry of Labour also covers guidelines for specific health hazards and types of hazardous work. Employers can refer to the ministry for incident and illness reporting and health and safety awareness training.

Health and Safety Help offers expert advice for Ontario employers about compliance with provincial regulations and laws.


Educate Your Workforce With Reasonable Suspicion Training!

HHCA members get 10% off RST Courses using code HHCA10

Learn the 5-step reasonable suspicion process for supervisors, as well as how to recognize common indicators of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. Explore the dangers of workplace impairment due to substance use, and the symptoms of a substance use disorder, so supervisors are able to detect when their employees may be impaired.

Get your certificate of completion today!

Health and Safety Risks and Challenges for Ontario Employers

Ontario had 255,000 registered work-related health and safety claims in 2022, totalling more than $2 billion in benefits payments. Of the allowed claims, over 82,000 resulted in lost work time, and sprains and strains were a leading injury type.

A first glance at workplace disabling injury and fatality statistics shows higher percentages in Ontario than in other provinces. However, knowing that Ontario is the most populated province, these statistics don’t offer valid comparisons.

Ontario had among the lowest disabling injury and fatality rates by province and territory for 2020. Such statistics are obtained by adjusting for the total number of hours worked. Overall, Ontario boasts a lower frequency of lost-time injury claims than any other province.

In 2020, the construction sector had the highest percentage of traumatic fatalities in Ontario, at 31 percent. Transportation and warehousing were second at 15 percent and manufacturing third at 11 percent.

Ontario employers should understand the most significant workplace hazards related to their industry. Some sector-specific risks and challenges are listed below for two small yet high-risk sectors in Ontario.


Construction makes up only eight percent of the Ontario workforce but has the highest number of occupational fatalities. Fall hazards pose the most considerable risk for critical injuries and deaths for Ontario-based construction workers. Employees are also at risk of being “struck’ by hazards from vehicles and equipment, dangers from operating heavy machinery, and noise-related hazards.


Although mining employs less than one percent of Ontario’s workforce, it has the second-highest death rate from workplace incidents and the third from occupational diseases.

Ground instability, water accumulation in mines, improper operating procedures for remote control equipment, and the safe storage, transport, and use of explosives are some of the mining industry’s significant challenges.

Occupational Tests Ontario Employers Should Consider

Ontario employers can select appropriate occupational tests based on their industry’s most significant health and safety risks and challenges.

Because the service sector dominates Ontario’s economic landscape, service industry employers should understand which occupational tests are most crucial for their workplace. In this industry, employees often deal with sensitive information, and therefore, background checks such as criminal record checks may be vital.

As Canada’s leading manufacturing province, many Ontario-based manufacturing employees are likely wondering about the most relevant tests for this sector. Manufacturing jobs often involve repetitive work, increasing the risk of repetitive strain injuries. Since strains and sprains are a leading injury type in Ontario workplaces, manufacturing employers can use Fitness-to-Work testing to help reduce the risks.

Manufacturing employees often work with dangerous machinery. Drugs and alcohol mustn’t impair these workers so everyone can stay safe. Therefore, employers can use drug and alcohol testing and invest in Reasonable Suspicion Training to help enforce a safer workplace.

Ontario employers in small yet high-risk sectors like construction and mining may need audiometric testing for employees because work environments are often loud. A lung health program including testing services such as spirometry may be imperative for mining employees exposed to dangerous substances.

Complimentary Resource! Understand Occupational Testing Requirements in Ontario!

This document outlines the following:
• Worker activities requiring physical assessment
• Regulation / Code name and number
• Required examinations
• Frequency of examinations