Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer Ron Kelusky told Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) members recently that the province’s occupational health and safety system is in the midst of a renaissance due in part to the efforts of the association during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelusky outlined a half dozen examples of progress in the system, including restoration of the roles of the government’s prevention council and office of the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) as well as how Ontario was able to implement new COVID-19 health and safety protocols throughout the province’s workplaces thanks in part to the leadership of the OGCA.
The role of the province’s Prevention Council, which was on “life support” in June of last year, is being expanded, Kelusky said. “The activity of that committee, providing information to the minister, has never been stronger, and we are dealing with issues I could only have dreamt of when I first started. Things like oversight over private training providers, learning outcomes for training programs, so that we just don’t have people building stuff without evidence. All of that is coming”
The OGCA also jumped into other pandemic issues such as the need for source control, contact tracing and consistency in reporting, Kelusky said, and former president Clive Thurston showed leadership when it became apparent there was a shortage of PPE in the province.
It was also during those early days of the pandemic that a distinct transformation in the way provincial ministries worked together on health and safety issues developed, Kelusky said. The ministries previously tended to work in silos, he said.