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Workplace incidents: find out when and how to report them

Workplace incidents: find out when and how to report them

How do you determine when an incident is reportable? And how do you report it? The answers to these questions may not be so clear, especially with hybrid work, travelling for work, and new legislation.

On July 1, 2021, Regulation 420/21 came into effect in Ontario under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It addresses employer obligations relating to notices and reporting requirements for workplace fatalities, critical injuries, occupational illnesses, and other incidents. Although it has been in place for more than a year, it may not have gotten much attention due to the pandemic. Essentially, Regulation 420/21 consolidates the incident reporting requirements for all sectors and effectively streamlined reporting processes for employers across Ontario. But how does an employer determine what situations are considered "incidents"?

"An incident is a situation where an employee is injured, could have been injured, or property is damaged," explains Tova Larsen, Health and Safety Consultant with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). Reporting near misses—when an employee could have been injured but wasn't-are often overlooked because they don't involve actual damage to a person or property. "Reporting and recording near misses are important because every near miss has causes and contributing factors that could have led to an injury. Reporting this information gives your organization an opportunity to identify those causes. It allows you to put preventative measures in place before the situation arises again." says Tova.

Tova goes on to explain that an incident must be reported whether it happens at the office, while working from home, or while at a client's location. Regardless of where the incident takes place, if it happens while an employee is working, it's a workplace incident and must be reported. A motor vehicle incident that occurs while driving for work must also be reported to a supervisor or manager.

Critical vs. Non-Critical

Whether an incident is critical or non-critical determines the steps that must be taken when reporting. When the incident is non-critical, (e.g., a near miss, disabling injury, occupational disease, or a minor injury requiring first aid), employees report it directly to their supervisor. The supervisor will investigate to determine how to prevent similar incidents in the future. Often, organizations have databases to record this information. "If first aid is required, don't forget that you must also complete a first aid record that includes information such as the name of the injured person, the date and time, the treatment rendered, and the cause of the incident," reminds Tova.

A critical injury is an injury of a serious nature that:

  • places life in jeopardy
  • produces unconsciousness
  • results in substantial loss of blood
  • involves the fracture of a leg or arm but not a finger or toe
  • involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand, or foot but not a finger or toe
  • consists of burns to a major portion of the body
  • causes the loss of sight in an eye

When an incident is critical, there are a few more steps in the reporting process, outlined below.

Four steps to report a critical incident

  1. Contact Emergency Services and your supervisor. This is usually done in-person or via a phone call.
  2. Report to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) immediately by calling 1-877-202-0008. Cordon off and secure the area until an MLITSD inspector arrives. If a motor vehicle incident has occurred on a public road, it will likely be the police who respond instead of an MLITSD inspector.
  3. Report immediately to the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative, and Union (if applicable). While the MLITSD or police investigate, the organization must also conduct an investigation. Worker member(s) of the JHSC may also investigate.
  4. Submit a written report to the MLITSD within 48 hours. New with Regulation 420/21 is the option to submit the report electronically using the MLITSD's digital form.
  5. Submit Employer Form 7 to the WSIB. This can also be done electronically using the eForm 7.

How WSPS Can Help


Connect with a consultant to find out more about these services from WSPS' Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems specialists.