Manitoba doubles investment in workplace injury, illness prevention

Manitoba has a new strategic action plan to prevent workplace injury, according to Jennifer Howard, the province’s Family Services and Labour Minister.

The five year plan for injury and illness prevention incorporates recommendations from three reports issued in early April as part of a wide-ranging review of workplace injury and illness prevention.

The new strategy details plans for the following:

• doubling funding for prevention services
• creating new requirements under the Workplace Safety and Health Act that more clearly define workers' legal rights, require mandatory orientation of new workers and provide stronger protection when a worker refuses unsafe work
• investing in resources that will ensure every high school student has access to workplace health and safety information in the classroom or online, and materials to help parents prepare their children to know about their rights to a safe workplace when they start their first job
• strengthening support for emergency responders and other workers in high-trauma jobs
• providing more ways for the public to report unsafe workplaces, including a one-stop phone number for reporting unsafe workplace or injuries
• requiring mandatory safety orientation for new workers
• providing a mobile safety lab to bring safety awareness training and tools to rural worksites
• ensuring every new business in Manitoba gets information about their responsibilities to prevent injuries
• creating a leadership team of business owners and executives who have shown their commitment to safety and can help inform and mentor other business owners
• increasing enforcement of rules to prevent bullying and violence in the workplace
• reviewing every workplace death to learn lessons about prevention.

"Dedicating more resources to prevention will help make Manitoba one of the safest places to work in North America," said Howard. "Enforcement is also an important part of injury prevention and our safety and health laws will be among the strongest in the country. Safety and health officers will now have the tools needed to ensure compliance."

The minister also announced the Workers' Compensation Board of Manitoba will develop a strategy to eliminate claim suppression and inappropriate return-to-work practices while ensuring employers that engage in genuine injury prevention are recognized and rewarded. That new strategy is expected in the fall of 2013.