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100 Years of Workplace Accident Prevention & Safety in Ontario

Established over 100 years ago, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) has a proven history of helping Ontario employers make their workplaces safer.

WSPS' rich history dates back to 1917- to the founding of one of our three legacy organizations, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA). In its time, IAPA - which served the manufacturing and industrial sectors – achieved a great deal for workers, with a number of key milestones along the way:

  • 1924: IAPA’s first group of volunteers come together to help spread the health and safety message.
  • 1953: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth bestows the Coronation Medal on IAPA, in recognition of the humanitarian effort of the association and its volunteers.
  • 1965: IAPA opens a safety training centre.

With the IAPA in place for the manufacturing and industrial sectors, new organizations were formed to protect workers in other sectors. The Farm Safety Association (FSA) was established in 1973 to serve the agriculture, landscaping, horticulture, and agribusiness sectors. And in 1997, the Ontario Service Safety Alliance (OSSA) was established to serve the province’s service sector.

In 2010, Ontario announced its first Chief Prevention Officer, who oversaw the amalgamation of IAPA, FSA, and OSSA into Workplace Safety & Prevention Services: an even stronger organization focused on the health and safety needs of Ontario businesses in the manufacturing, service and agriculture sectors.

Preventing Workplace Accidents in Ontario: Key Milestones

As Ontario's largest and longest-serving health and safety association, WSPS (and before 2010, the three organizations that came together to form it) has long advocated for legislative change to protect workers. This advocacy can be traced back to a number of pieces of legislation that were passed throughout the 1900s to spell out the duties of employers in different sectors, to protect workers. For example:

  • 1968: The First Employment Standards Act was established.
  • 1978: Ontario passed the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OH&S Act) enshrining the three key rights of workers in law.

Building on Past Successes to Protect the Potential of Today’s Workers

Incredible strides in workplace health and safety have taken place since 1917. Since then, WSPS has been an active agent of change as a provider of innovative, impactful solutions, and has acted as an advocate on behalf of our member firms.

Since 2002, Lost-time injury rates in Ontario have declined across the three sectors:

  • Agriculture by 48%
  • Manufacturing by 68%
  • Services by 59%

Today, WSPS serves 171,000 member firms representing four million employees throughout Ontario. While our name has changed over the years, our commitment to eliminating all work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among Ontario workers has not.

WSPS has evolved in how we serve as a health and safety association for Ontarians, and we will continue to evolve. What remains constant is our unwavering commitment to helping build and expand a successful, growing, and vibrant health and safety system that truly reflects the needs of workplaces across Ontario.

Would you like to stay up to date about all that we’re doing to keep Ontario workplaces safe? Subscribe to our email newsletter so that you won’t miss a thing.

Leading the Way for 100 Years

We're proud of our 100 year legacy of keeping Ontario workers safe

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