City of Toronto labelled 'high-risk' employer

City will receive more frequent and intensive inspections

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has declared the City of Toronto a "high-risk" employer because of its poor health and safety record.

The designation was a surprise to city staff because lost-time injuries decreased by four per cent from 2004 to 2005.

The high-risk designation means the city will be undergoing more frequent and intensive safety inspections and pay higher premiums to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The city paid $29.8 million in WSIB costs in 2006, which is about what the city has been paying for the past three years.

Staff with the most time lost due to accident or occupational illness in 2006 included those who work in homes for the elderly, followed by Toronto Water staff, firefighters and paramedics.

The city had 1,840 lost-time accidents in 2006, down from 2004 and 2005, but on par with 2003. Toronto was deemed a high-risk employer last June, but no report about the designation surfaced until the city's employee and labour relations committee was getting ready to meet last week.

The city is facing one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding the death of a building inspector in 2003. The city has been charged with failing to provide the worker with sufficient instruction and training.

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