Health and safety FAQs

How can I share my story about workplace violence?

Click here to break the silence on workplace violence. Take our (anonymous) survey.

Break the Silence

Healthcare is dangerous work

According to a study conducted in 2004, 72% of nurses do not feel safe from assault at work (International Council of Nurses). The same study found that female workers are most likely to suffer from workplace violence.

We know the number of workplace violence incidents – the majority of which go unreported – are growing.  However, there is a lack of current data to communicate the shocking number of incidents experienced in the workplace by all workers in the healthcare sector. 

We have developed an anonymous survey to collect your personal experiences with workplace violence so that we can better understand how widespread this epidemic truly is.

Thank you for filling out the survey and helping break the silence!

What do I do if I feel unsafe or need help?

If you need help with a potential health and safety concern, here are steps for you to follow.

1. First, contact your supervisor about the problem.

Sometimes this first step is challenging, but it's an important one required by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. This is especially important if it's an accident. Your employer is not allowed to discipline you in any way for contacting your supervisor.

2. Contact the Ministry of Labour for guidance.

Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre

3. Inform your workplace health and safety committee.

If you're not sure how to contact someone on the committee, get in touch with the union's member resource centre.

4. Contact the SEIU Healthcare member resource centre about your health and safety issue.

There are many kinds of health and safety issues that occur in our members' workplaces. If something is concerning you, we want to hear about it!

What are the health and safety laws protecting me?

Everyone's right to health and safety at work is guaranteed by law, but employers don't always respect the rules. Here is some information about the particulars of health and safety laws.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is home to the province's labour laws. You can read the Occupational Health and Safety Act yourself, check out the Ministry's Safe at Work strategy, or read through other resources that explain the roles and responsibilities of workers and employers:

Worker’s Health and Safety Centre
Public Services Health and Safety Association
Your Healthy Work Environment
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT)

As a healthcare worker you may want to find out more about the rules on violence and harassment in the workplace.

What work does SEIU Healthcare do to protect health and safety?

As a collective of over 55,000 workers, together we have a role to play to ensure employers are accountable to health and safety laws and respect the rights of all healthcare workers.

Provincial committees
We bring the voices of healthcare workers to the government on health and safety issues by being present as a key stakeholder for consultations and policy work.

Since 2008, the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Occupational Health and Safety Branch has been meeting with the public on how to improve its enforcement efforts and help the system to deliver on the priorities set out in the Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces strategy.

SEIU Healthcare attends the Safe at Work Ontario consultations annually. The Ontario Ministry of Labour consults with the public to discuss proposed changes to the law and the implementation of new programs and services to reduce occupational illness and injury in Ontario.

We participate on the Ministry's Vulnerable Workers Task Group and Section 21 Committee, which provides advice to the Minister on the Occupational Health and Safety Act via guidance notes.

We also sit on the PSW Advisory Committee on Health & Safety, and on the Public Services Health & Safety Association Prevention and Management of Workplace Violence Project Steering Committee and Focus Groups.

Regular meetings other unions
We meet quarterly with other healthcare unions including ONA, OPSEU, Unifor, and CUPE on health and safety issues because we all have the same goal: to hold employers accountable for respecting health and safety laws and protecting the people who spend their working lives taking care of others.

Workplace health and safety committees
As part of the union structure there are health and safety committees in each workplace made up of members (your co-workers) with assistance from union staff representatives. If you want to help defend the health and safety of your fellow workers, consider joining your Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). If you're not sure how to contact someone on the committee, get in touch with the union's member resource centre.

In late 2015 we submitted a proposal to the WSIB on changes to its model which may have significant implications for members. Read our blog post on the submission for an overview of this important issue.

Where can I get the latest updates and health advisories?

Do you receive emails from us? If not, sign up on our homepage and make sure the member resource centre has your correct contact information.

Public Health Ontario lists updates and alerts from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for you to read about province-wide health issues and initiatives.

Questions? Need help?