Labour’s allies in health and safety | The Ontario Federation of Labour

Labour’s allies in health and safety

Workers Health & Safety Centre

What they provide?

Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) trains workers, their representatives, supervisors, and employers in workplaces of all sizes and sectors across Ontario. WHSC develops and delivers hazard-based, instructor-led training to equip all workplace parties with the skills to proactively identify, assess and control or eliminate hazardous working conditions that cause worker injury, illness or death. True to their roots, WHSC also offers comprehensive labour education training aimed at supporting worker health and safety activists. Finally, WHSC provides a host of health and safety information resources and tools, including a free inquiry service, electronic newsletter, and documentation tools to assist joint health and safety committees and worker representatives with workplace inspections, incident investigations and work refusals.

Since when?

WHSC is Ontario’s only labour-endorsed, government-designated health and safety training centre for good reason. With the passage of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1978, organized labour understood workers and their representatives would require quality training to confidently and competently exercise newly won rights and responsibilities. Knowing workers also needed a training provider they could trust, the late Cliff Pilkey, then-President, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), negotiated with government to secure grants and eventually permanent funding in support of a workers’ training centre. Today, WHSC with an independent board of directors, their labour constituency and employer clients, remains uniquely focused on worker health and safety training and information priorities.


WHSC staff are located in Markham, Hamilton, Sarnia, Sudbury and Ottawa, but their reach is not limited to these communities. Training Services representatives travel the province, coordinating the training workers, their representatives, supervisors and employers need. Meantime, those delivering the training, WHSC-qualified worker instructors, are drawn from workplaces across the province, readily available in a community near you, or online in real-time virtual classrooms.  


To access WHSC training, workers, their unions and employers can register online for many training essentials scheduled year-round in in-person or virtual classrooms. WHSC can also bring training to union training facilities and workplaces across Ontario. Reach out to a WHSC Training Services representative nearest you to get started.

“Workers Health & Safety Centre is unique to Ontario’s health and safety system. For us training matters; but learning matters more. Through participant-centred learning, we work tirelessly to support meaningful worker participation and full employer responsibility in the pursuit of safer, healthier work. Let’s connect and talk about the many ways WHSC can aid your efforts to safeguard worker well-being.”

Andrew Mudge, Executive Director, WHSC


Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW)

What they provide?

OHCOW is dedicated to the identification and prevention of work-related illnesses.  At the core of each clinic are dedicated staff trained in occupational medicine who are available to provide medical examinations for a full range of work-related illnesses and are open to anyone with a possible occupational health problem. The clinics also provide prevention services as noted below in the areas of injury prevention, workplace mental health and occupational illness.


  • Information/Inquiry Services – that answer your workplace health and safety questions.
  • Ergonomic Assessments – to help workers and workplaces identify, evaluate and reduce/eliminate ergonomic hazards.
  • Medical Diagnostic Services – for workers who may have work-related health problems.
  • Occupational Hygiene Services –endeavours to find the workplace link to the disease/ illness under investigation.
  • Group Services – for joint health and safety committees and groups of workers.
  • Outreach and Education Services –to make people aware of health and safety issues.

Since when?

OHCOW was established in 1989 by the Ontario Federation of Labour and is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD). 


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s workers in Ontario became increasingly aware of the toll of injury and disease caused by dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. A groundswell of opinion demanded more effective diagnosis of work-related health problems and effective prevention strategies. The first OHCOW clinic opened in 1989 in Hamilton and Toronto with subsequent clinics being opened in Windsor, Sudbury, Sarnia, Thunder Bay and Ottawa.


Staffed by an interdisciplinary team of nurses, hygienists, ergonomists, researchers, client service coordinators and contracted physicians, each OHCOW clinic provides comprehensive occupational health services.

Our clients include workers (including temporary foreign agricultural workers), joint health and safety committees or representatives, unions, employers, health professionals, community groups, legal clinics, students and members of the public.

“OHCOW is a trusted source for workers in providing Occupational Health Services. If you believe your injury or illness was caused by your workplace OHCOW can help you to determine work relatedness and provide a report to assist you with any potential workplace claims. The organization also provides Prevention Services to address workplace hazards and risks so that you can avoid getting injuries and illnesses in the first place”. 

– David Chezzi, OHCOW, Board Chair

Prevention Link

What they provide?

Prevention Link is an innovative occupational disability prevention program that focuses on the link between the primary and secondary prevention of occupational injury, illness, and disease in workplaces throughout Ontario.

Prevention Link is supported by three distinct pillars:

  • Occupational Disability Response Training (ODRT)
  • Return to Work – Disability Prevention Services (RTW – DPS)
  • Lighthouse Initiative (LI) – Education, awareness, and outreach to workers most at risk of occupational injury, illness and disease

Since when?

Established in October 1990 as the Occupational Disability Response Team, the program expanded into Prevention Link in 2016 and became one of Ontario’s only comprehensive secondary prevention programs. The program is supported by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and governed by the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Executive Committee.


Training is provided in communities across Ontario, at the OFL offices located in Toronto, and virtually on one of the leading online educational platforms. Return-to-Work services are available upon request. Prevention Link and Lighthouse Initiative information guides can be downloaded from our website.


Prevention Link is building on the experience and success of a network of workplace-based occupational disability prevention champions to enhance primary and secondary prevention of workplace injury and illness, as well as prevent re-injury after return to work. The program offers training, mentoring, outreach and advisory services for unionized and non-unionized workers, workplace representatives, and employers. The Return-to-Work branch assists unions and employers in the development of an effective RTW Culture Transition Program that features evidence-based return to work principles and strategies.

“We envision a province where occupational illnesses and injuries are eliminated to enable healthy, safe and accommodating workplaces for all workers, in every workplace, and in every community across Ontario.”

– Rob Halpin, Executive Director, Prevention Link