Health and Safety Index

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


2019 score

1.9% green arrow up

This score indicates an improvement in the health and safety of Ontario's workplaces.

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.

2019 Score insights



5.7% green arrow up

An increase in inspections for workplace prevention activities led to a strong performance.


Workplace culture

-0.5% red arrow down

An improvement in awareness of legislation was not enough to overcome decreases in the other areas of workplace safety awareness and culture.



-2.8% red arrow down

Despite improvements in severe injuries, it was not enough to overcome the negative overall injury metrics.



15.2% green arrow up

Empowerment continues to be a positive number and is a major driver of the index. Decreased employee involvement in workplace health and safety activities led to a smaller improvement compared to last year.



-5.5% red arrow down

Negative results in all three areas caused a negative score for enforcement.


2019 Top five industry scores

Health care and social services 4.4% improvement

Health care and social services

Strength: Fewer injuries

Focus on: Prevention and involvement of employees in health and safety

Health care achieved the highest score this year. This was due to improvements in empowerment, enforcement and the largest decrease in the number of severe injuries. The industry continued to have low prevention and workplace culture scores, same as last year but did see some improvements in areas like inspections and workplace safety activities.

1.9% increase


Strength: Prevention and workplace culture

Focus on: Reducing the number of injuries

Construction has the second highest score at 1.9 per cent and is the only industry to show improvement both years of the index. The improvement was lower this year due to negative scores for injuries and enforcement. The number of severe injuries improved but challenges with return-to-work efforts and an increase in overall injuries kept the score lower. Prevention is the strongest area for construction mostly due to the number of inspections.

Transportation and warehousing -1.6%

Transportation and warehousing

Strength: Culture and prevention

Focus on: Reducing the number of severe injuries

At -1.6 per cent, transportation and warehousing was one of three industries to change to a negative score this year due lower numbers in empowerment, enforcement and injuries. Leadership and workplace culture scores led to strong culture outcomes, but the number of severe injuries kept the number negative.

Manufacturing -1.6%


Strength: Empowerment and prevention

Focus on: Reducing the number of severe injuries

Manufacturing had high scores for empowerment and prevention. The positive prevention score, like with construction, was due to an increase in inspections. Compared to last year where manufacturing led all industries with the highest culture score, it was lower this year due to leadership and workplace culture performance. There was a large decrease in the score, driven by high severe injury counts.

Retail trade -1.9%

Retail trade

Strength: Prevention

Focus on: Reducing the number of severe injuries

The retail trade is a negative score this year. Challenges with return-to-work support, an increase in overall injury counts and much higher severe injury counts meant a lower score in the injury section of the index.

Prevention was positive, driven by high inspection volumes. Despite lower results in leadership activities for the second year in a row, culture was flat. This was due to improvements in legislation awareness

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.

Worker Empowerment
Workplace culture
Group,OverallWeight,DrillDown, Measure,InternalWeight, Measure,InternalWeight,Measure,InternalWeight, Prevention,24,1,inspections,27,work activities,48, work support,25 Empowerment,10,2,complaints,39,work involvement,32, work refusals,29 Culture,40,3,awareness of legislation,44,work culture,28, work leadership,28 Enforcement,15,4,convictions,5,fines,45, orders,50 Severity,11,5,injuries,27,on benefits for 30 days,24, severity,37

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).