Health and Safety Index

How safe are Ontario’s workplaces and are they getting safer?


2020 score

-4.2% red arrow down

It’s a simple, single measure. Our health and safety index combines multiple performance indicators of health and safety into a single, evidence-based measure. This measure, or score, raises awareness and helps system partners focus their health and safety efforts and resources.

People feeling empowered at work and the lower number of severe injury claims had the largest positive impact on the index. The length of time it takes some people to get back to work and total overall number of injuries had a negative impact on most industry scores.

2020 Top five industry scores

-4.4% Health care and social service

Health care and social services

Strength: Prevention and culture

Focus on: Injuries, specifically severe injury counts

Increasing injuries, particularly severe injuries, caused health care and social assistance to change from a positive score in 2019 to a negative score in 2020

-2.4% Construction


Strength: Prevention and workplace culture

Focus on: Complaints and refusals

Construction is the only industry to have positive serious injuries results in 2020. While empowerment lagged, prevention continues to be the strongest area for construction, led largely by the number of inspections in 2020.

-5.3% Transportation and warehousing

Transportation and warehousing

Strength: Prevention

Focus on: Empowerment

While it is the only industry to have a positive total injuries result and there were strong prevention outcomes, declining leadership activities and workplace culture scores kept the number negative.

-2.8% Manufacturing


Strength: Culture and empowerment

Focus on: Injuries, specifically severe injury count

Manufacturing had positive results in culture due to improved leadership activities and workplace culture scores. The largest decrease was in injuries, driven by high severe injury counts

-1.9% Retail trade

Retail trade

Strength: Empowerment

Focus on: Injuries, specifically severe injury count

Poor performance in the injury section of the index caused retail to remain negative in 2020. Specifically, severe injury counts were much higher, however there were also increases in overall injury counts and poor return-to-work support. Empowerment was positive, driven by more involvement in health and safety while culture slightly improved due to increased leadership activities.

Measuring health and safety

Rather than measuring health and safety in individual workplaces, the index looks at Ontario as a whole. 
To measure overall health and safety, we look at five components:

Prevention - what is done to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses, like avoiding unnecessary risks and following health and safety rules
Empowerment - how people are involved in keeping workplaces healthy and safe
Workplace culture - how employees think about the priority placed on health and safety where they work
Enforcement - the fines, orders and convictions for poor health and safety practices
Injuries - the injuries that occur and how often, how long it takes people to get back to work, and the severity of the injuries, including loss of life.

How it all adds up

The components are scored based on workplace health and safety data covering almost every sector of Ontario’s economy. Each component is weighted in relation to the others, and the five scores are added up to reach the single index measure.

The index tracks the yearly change in Ontario’s overall workplace health and safety, and is updated annually.

We introduced the index in 2017 with weights derived from the data collected to date. Using 2017 as the baseline and recalculating the weighting according to best practice, 2018 was the first year we released a score. In 2019 we released the second index score.

For details about the methodology and rationale behind the index, please read the Technical Paper (PDF).