New Health and Safety Excellence program for Ontario businesses launches Nov. 6

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WSIB combines employer health and safety incentive programs

Health and Safety Excellence program information sheet - please download and print

Group of people meeting around a tableOn November 6, 2019, the new Health and Safety Excellence program for Ontario businesses comes into effect. The performance-based rewards program from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) combines the strengths of its previous incentive programs: Safety Groups, Small Business, and Workwell. 

“This new Excellence program provides Ontario businesses a clear roadmap on how to improve workplace health and safety,” says Tom Welton, Director of Prevention Services and Education Programs at Workplace Safety North (WSN). “Whether you’re just getting started or want to improve what you already have in place, the Excellence program can help Ontario business owners reach their goals,” says Welton.

In the previous 2018 incentive program, the Northern Ontario Safety Group included 74 Ontario businesses that met to share and build their health and safety knowledge, and network with other business owners. The current 2019 program will wrap up a 20-year run of WSIB Safety Groups, for which WSN was one of the initial sponsors of the program.

“The group’s efforts resulted in a 10 per cent decrease in lost-time injury severity,” says Welton. “Overall, their successful efforts have a tremendous combined effect on everyday health and safety of workers. WSIB recognized those efforts by providing the group with a $1.2 million rebate on their premiums for the program year. 

“This shows how the new Health and Safety Excellence Program, which combines previous incentive programs like the Northern Ontario Safety Group and the Small Business Health and Safety Program, can help employers develop a significantly healthier and safer workplace,” notes Welton.

The new WSIB incentive program is delivered by approved providers in Ontario, including Workplace Safety North, one of the four designated health and safety associations in the province. 

Benefits for businesses

The main benefit of the new Excellence program is safer and healthier workplaces. Businesses can improve the health and safety experience of workers and contractors, and at the same time, share knowledge and network. “As past incentive programs have shown, there are key benefits for business owners,” says Welton, “One of which is networking with other businesses and learning from those who’ve been in business awhile – not only about health and safety, but also about doing business in the community in general.

“At the same time, employers gain access to a team of leading health and safety experts and network with peers to help them meet common health and safety challenges. They also receive access to exclusive resources at Workplace Safety North, such as a resource binder, telephone support, and virtual meetings.”

Through the new Excellence program, businesses can build a well-crafted and functional health and safety program. “The most valuable benefit for most business owners is peace of mind,” says Welton. “Participating in an incentive program run by health and safety experts helps ensure you’re meeting current health and safety legislation, and evolving and strengthening your knowledge and capability to keep workers, clients, and the community safe and healthy.”

What’s new?

Based on WSIB consultations and feedback from the business community, the new Excellence program offers a number of features designed to make it easier and more convenient for business owners to participate and benefit. As with previous WSIB incentive programs, business owners can save money with WSIB rebates, and now with the new 2020 rate framework, they can also influence their premium rate. 

  • Employers can work on one to five health and safety topics in a 12-month period.
  • Flexible timelines allow employers to work at their own pace.
  • Registration open all year (entry into the Excellence program is on a rolling 12-month basis.)
  • Added convenience of a variety of meeting times and methods (virtual and face-to-face at WSN).
  • Financial and non-financial recognition based on individual participant performance.
  • Employers submit program documentation online for WSN prior to WSIB validation.
  • Flexible entry points; employers choose where they start in the program, selecting program topics of most relevance to reducing injury for their workplace.

A new element of the program is a mandatory health and safety workplace assessment survey, which will help firms prioritize health and safety weaknesses when developing their program action plan.  

As well, firms can take advantage of a leading-edge opportunity to complete a workplace culture survey which will help them evolve their health and safety practices towards a high standard of excellence. Improvement in health and safety culture is shown to correlate with fewer injuries and illnesses, which in turn, helps improve productivity and morale. 

“As an approved provider of the Excellence program, Workplace Safety North makes it easier for employers to develop and implement health and safety programs because they’re provided with everything they need,” says Welton. “Program participants receive assistance and guidance on the registration process, expert advice on setting goals for improvement based on their workplace assessment, professional coaching and continuous support.

“Registration opens on November 6, 2019, and we’re excited to be part of this evolution in workplace health and safety in Ontario,” says Welton.

How can WSN help?

WSN makes it easier for you to develop and implement health and safety programs. You're provided with everything you need:

  • Assistance and guidance on the registration process
  • Expert advice on setting goals for improvement based on your workplace assessment
  • Professional coaching in the development of your action plan and program completion
  • Continuous support throughout the program

How to Register

Registration for the 2020 Health and Safety Excellence program year opens on November 6, 2019. Contact WSN to learn more or visit


WSIB Information Sessions – sign up for one in your area

Heatlh and Safety Excellence program - WSIB webinar presentation

WSIB Health and Safety Excellence program -

Worker injury severity rate decreases by 10% for northern Ontario safety group