Health and Safety Excellence program: Frequently asked questions
Why is the WSIB changing its health and safety programs?
The new program expands service and delivery options, making it accessible to more businesses across Ontario. It integrates the Small Business, Workwell and Safety Groups programs into a single health and safety program that encourages continuous improvement.
Why should I join the program?
Our program provides businesses with the opportunity to invest in their workplace health and safety and improve their workplace culture. The program helps businesses create a healthier and safer workplace, which could result in lower premium rates, earning rebates and recognition.
How does the program work?
There are four components to our program:
- Businesses select a WSIB-approved provider to work with, complete an assessment to help determine where they should start in their health and safety journey and develop an action plan to work on health and safety topics of their choice.
- Businesses learn how to complete topics with the help of a provider.
- Businesses submit evidence of their topic completion for review by a WSIB validator.
- Businesses receive a rebate on their WSIB premiums and recognition for investing in a healthier and safer workplace, such as digital achievement badges.
What is the difference between the Health and Safety Excellence program and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers program?
The Health and Safety Excellence program provides businesses with a roadmap for implementing a health and safety management system. Businesses complete health and safety topics, which are building blocks of a health and safety management system.
The MLTSD Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers program recognizes businesses that have an occupational health and safety management system in place meeting MLTSD accredited standards. Businesses that receive MLTSD Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) recognition and meet additional WSIB eligibility requirements will receive financial incentives from the WSIB. The MLTSD program and associated financial incentives are separate from the Health and Safety Excellence program and its incentives. The Health and Safety Excellence program topics align to and provide businesses with the necessary building blocks to the CPO accreditation program.
You can find more information on the Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers program on the MLTSD website.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premium rebates are available to businesses for both programs. Eligibility requirements apply.
If I already have a health and safety management system meeting an accredited standard, should I participate in the Health and Safety Excellence program?
Businesses with health and safety management systems meeting an accredited standard, such as ISO 45001, and verified by third party audit, should consider applying for the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers program.
The Health and Safety Excellence program includes additional best practices topics beyond the MLTSD accreditation. These topics are Networking and Peer Learning, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Workplace Health Promotion. As such, employers already meeting an accreditation can still complete these topics through the Health and Safety Excellence program and qualify for financial and non-financial incentives.
I have already developed COVID-19 policies and procedures to respond to the crisis. Will the program recognize systems and procedures we already have in place?
Any COVID-19 related policies and procedures your business has in place are considered NEW health and safety initiatives, eligible for program participation, regardless of when started. Noting that the new restrictions placed on businesses are still evolving, the program will help you with further adjustments and tweaks to existing policies in place.
Am I required to choose a COVID-19 suggested topic(s)?
The five suggested COVID-19 topics will be helpful in following the guidance provided by the Government of Ontario for re-opening and ensuring the safety of your employees and customers, however the program is flexible and you are not required to select them. You can choose any of the 36 program topics available to improve the health and safety in your workplace.
Is COVID-19 recognized as an individual hazard under the Control of Hazards topic?
Yes, you can complete the Control of Hazards topic based on addressing the risks posed by COVID-19.
If I have a claim for a COVID-19 related illness or fatality, will I still be eligible for the rebate?
When will I receive a rebate for implementing the COVID-19 suggested topics?
The COVID-19 suggested topics are treated the same as the other 31 program topics. Rebates are paid in the spring and fall of each year. To qualify for the fall 2020 rebate you will need to implement your topics by August 1, 2020.
Joining the program
Who is eligible to participate in the program?
All Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 businesses with an active WSIB account number are eligible to participate. See our program guidelines for specific program criteria.
Schedule 2 businesses will be able to participate in the program (i.e., develop an action plan and receive validation on topics completed) however will not receive a financial rebate as they do not pay premiums. Schedule 2 businesses will receive non-financial recognition for their achievements (i.e., topics and levels they complete).
How does a business sign up for the program?
To sign up, a business should:
- attend an information session to learn about the program
- review the list of WSIB-approved providers
- choose a provider and register in the program
Businesses can join the program at anytime throughout the year, but some providers may offer services that run on an annual basis with a specific entry period.
What is a provider and how does a business select one?
Providers are private health and safety companies, health and safety associations and business associations approved by the WSIB to deliver the program to support workplaces in improving their health and safety. See the list of approved providers.
Is it mandatory for businesses to register with a provider to participate in the Health and Safety Excellence program?
Yes, in order to participate in the Health and Safety Excellence program and qualify for financial and non-financial incentives, businesses are required to select and register with a WSIB-approved provider.
They work with businesses to access the digital platform, guide them toward the implementation and completion of the program’s health and safety topics and ensure they understand the validation process and the requirements.
Having a network of approved providers reduces the administration burden and lets the WSIB focus on oversight and quality control to ensure the delivery of high quality health and safety services in accordance with service delivery standards.
Each provider offers services based on the industries and regions they serve and the fees are set by each based on the types of services offered. We encourage businesses to choose a provider based on their individual needs and the level of service they are looking for.
How does my program provider help me implement the topics?
Your program provider will guide you through the steps of integrating the health and safety topics into your everyday workplace activities. They will also help you monitor and track your success. Many providers will use the “plan, do, act, check” or PDCA framework to help you achieve your goals.
How long does it take to implement each topic?
Your program provider will work with you to select topics that are both a priority for your business and balance the amount of work required to implement each one. Some topics may take longer if they are highly customized to your particular needs, or require new structures and processes, such as foundational topics where health and safety is new to a business. Other topics have a more standard approach, such as first aid, which has regulated requirements, and may take less time to plan. The range of time to implement topics is approximately six months to one year.
How can I use this experience to keep my employees engaged in health and safety?
As part of your HSEp journey, we encourage you to engage and celebrate with your employees by sharing the results of your efforts, such as topics completed and rebates received. Consider having your employees complete the culture survey again to identify any progress you have made. For example, you can share results by including them in your business newsletter or having standing agenda items in your team meetings related to HSEp and items such as your culture survey results, and other health and safety improvements and metrics.
The WSIB Workwell and Small Business programs were offered at no cost. Will the new program also be free?
Similar to the Safety Groups program, the Health and Safety Excellence program involves support from our approved providers. Each provider sets their own fees based on the services they provide. These costs and more are offset by the financial rebate for success in the program.
Choosing your action plan topics
Can I choose topics that I’ve started to work on (for example, developing a work plan or drafting a policy) but haven’t implemented in my workplace?
Yes. You can choose a topic that you have already started to work on, as long as the health and safety initiative hasn’t been implemented in your workplace yet.
For example, if an incident reporting policy and procedure has been created but hasn’t been communicated to employees, included in health and safety training, or reviewed for effectiveness, you can choose the Injury, Illness and Incident Reporting topic to finalize and implement the policy and procedure in your workplace.
My company completed an external audit 10 years ago, but we haven’t had one since. Can I choose the External Audit topic?
Yes .The current lack of an audit process creates a significant gap in health and safety effectiveness. The External Audit topic helps you establish, implement, monitor and maintain a procedure so you can get an external third-party audit of your health and safety management system.
My business is now using diesel fuel to operate equipment – can I choose the Control of Hazards topic?
Yes. The introduction of a new exposure (like diesel) can create new hazards for your employees, which need to be controlled. The Control of Hazards topic can help you manage those new hazards.
Can I select any of the 36 topics and focus only on a COVID- 19 response within each topic?
No. By only focusing on the COVID-19 hazard (for example, in a risk assessment or training program), you may be overlooking other identified hazards. This is considered partial implementation of a topic, and doesn’t meet program requirements.
But, if you’re concerned about addressing COVID-19, you can choose the Control of Hazards topic. This topic can be used to address as many hazards as needed, in order to develop and implement control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of each of your business’ hazards, including COVID-19.
We need to add information on accessing WSIB forms to our Return to Work policy. Can I choose the Return to Work Program requirements, Forms and Tools topic?
No. Updates to existing policies and procedures that have already been implemented (for example, when a document is updated and shared with your employees) are considered part of your continuous improvement cycle and aren’t eligible for topic selection.
Rebate and recognition
How do I qualify for my rewards?
In order to achieve rebates and recognition, your business must meet the following:
- Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 business are eligible for recognition through digital badges.
- Only Schedule 1 businesses are eligible to achieve rebates.
- Compliance with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA)
- No allowed traumatic fatalities from the date of action plan approval to the date the rebate is issued.
- Evidence is submitted to show successful completion of one or more action plan topics. Your program provider will guide you in the process. Evidence can be provided in multiple formats such as a photo of a document posted on your health and safety board, written procedure, or a video of an employee talking about the training they received and how it helped them to be safer at work.
How and when do I get my rebate?
Businesses are eligible for a rebate once a year within a quarterly rebate schedule, when all of their topics have been completed.
What rebate amount can a business earn?
Under the 2020 premium rate-setting model, businesses will fall into one of two categories of predictability based on their ability to influence their premium rate through their health and safety experience:
Businesses with 20% or less predictability will receive 2% of their total annual WSIB premiums (based on previous calendar year premiums at the time of rebate calculation) per health and safety topic successfully completed and verified by a WSIB validator.
Businesses with greater than 20% predictability will receive 1.4% of their total annual WSIB premiums (based on previous calendar year premiums at the time of rebate calculation) per health and safety topic successfully completed and verified by a WSIB validator.
How does a business find their predictability percentage?
To determine predictability percent, follow these steps:
Log in to your online service account.
Select “Analyze Rates and Past Claims Costs with Compass”. This will bring you to your company’s main dashboard.
Double click on the “Premiums” box on your main dashboard.
Click on “2020 rates now available”.
Click on the + sign to expand the section.
Your predictability will appear below “Predominant Class”.
Is there a minimum or maximum on the total amount in rebates a business can receive?
The minimum rebate is $1,000 per topic, up to maximum total rebate of 75% of a businesses’ WSIB annual premiums. The maximum is $50,000 per topic.