Safe Workplace Ontario

Third-party health and safety designation program for Ontario businesses

Helping companies meet legislative requirements

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires all companies to prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement the policy. 

Safe Workplace Ontario is a voluntary recognition program, providing participating firms with the essentials for setting up and implementing an effective health and safety program. Firms continuously monitor and improve their health and safety programs and procedures through an annual audit process. 

Safe Workplace Ontario program 

The Safe Workplace Ontario designation program (SWO) provides the essential components required to create and implement an effective health and safety program. Once the program is complete, firms participate in a voluntary annual audit process overseen by Workplace Safety North (WSN) to continuously monitor and improve their health and safety programs and procedures.

Benefits of SWO designation

  • Helps you develop and maintain a solid workplace health and safety program.
  • Annual recognition confirms your health and safety program has met Safe Workplace Ontario requirements.
  • Before awarding contracts, many companies require suppliers and contractors to have a workplace health and safety program in place that has been verified by an independent third party.
  • An excellent resource leads you through the typical policies you legally need to have in place.
  • Provides you with guidance material, including a memory stick with policy templates you can customize to meet your specific needs.
  • Health and safety professionals provide coaching and guidance throughout program set-up and evaluation.
  • Includes field inspection – WSN assesses your workplace health and safety program – both on paper and on-site to ensure consistent safety culture.
  • Peace of mind knowing your organization is diligent in ensuring the health and safety of all staff, contractors, clients, and visitors

How does SWO program work?

The SWO designation program provides specific health and safety standards to guide participants in their efforts to eliminate injuries and illnesses in their workplaces. These standards were developed in close consultation with industry representatives. 

Each section of the SWO Resource Manual consists of the standard itself, reference to applicable legislation, company procedures for establishing and meeting the standard, and leading practices for implementing the standard in the workplace.

Program participants achieve their SWO designation when each of the applicable standards in the resource manual has been established in their workplace, and an on-site validation audit has been satisfactorily completed by an accredited third party.

Getting started with SWO designation

Steps to take if your company is new to the Safe Workplace Ontario (SWO) program.

  1. Contact your local Workplace Safety North Health and Safety Specialist for assistance at the start of your company health and safety program development and review process. At, WSN health and safety specialists are searchable online by industry sector, specialty, region, and language.
  2. Register, purchase and download the SWO Resource Manual Version 6.0 - see links below in 'SWO Member – Resource Centre' section for new and existing members. By purchasing the manual, you are automatically registered in the program.
  3. Once you feel your company health and safety program is up to date and fully implemented, advise your WSN Health and Safety Specialist.
  4. A WSN Health and Safety Specialist will contact your organization to arrange a field evaluation and conduct a SWO audit including a review of your health and safety program using the sector specific WSN Physical Conditions Safe Work Practices Checklist form.
  5. WSN will ensure that the initial program evaluation and physical conditions inspection is carried out to allow new applicants to achieve program designation within two months of being advised the program is available to be audited.
  6. When your company meets program standards, SWO designation will be granted. Note: In those cases where deficiencies are identified, the applicant must address them before the WSN Health and Safety Specialist conducts a follow-up consultation. The health and safety specialist will leave a detailed report of their findings after each consultation, and provide assistance as needed to meet the program standards.
  7. Once the health and safety specialist is satisfied your company has met the required standards, they will submit a SWO designation to WSN head office to confirm achievement for that year.
  8. Upon notification by the WSN Health and Safety Specialist, participants receive a written letter of acknowledgement to confirm the company’s SWO achievement. 

SWO designation process

  1. The first step involves having documented proof your firm’s standards and procedures meet or exceed the basic health and safety requirements established by the SWO program. Your company reviews and upgrades the existing health and safety program to meet SWO Resource Manual standards, with the coaching and assistance of a WSN health and safety specialist.
  2. The second step involves an on-site physical evaluation of the workplace by a WSN health and safety specialist to ensure no ‘A’ classification hazards – those likely to cause serious injury or death – are identified in the workplace, and that leading practices have been implemented. The evaluation process and related documents are available for download in the Resource Centre.
  3. When both criteria are met, your organization achieves the SWO designation letter. This is an annual process, which helps ensure continuous evolution of workplace health and safety; plus, it keeps you up to date on legislative changes to workplace health and safety in Ontario. At this time, you’ll also be advised of any new requirements and applicable fees for the upcoming fiscal year.  

Important information

Achieving the SWO designation does not mean a company is immune from orders or charges from Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development inspections. Although SWO designation goes a long way toward ensuring your company is fulfilling its duties and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, not every legal issue is covered by the SWO program. If you have any specific concerns or questions, Workplace Safety North health and safety specialists are available for guidance and support.


There are three types of fees for the SWO designation program: one-time registration, annual designation fee, and an occasional resource manual upgrade cost.

An initial endorsement of $500 applies to any firm registering after April 1, 2024

Registration fee

New SWO member registration, which includes the SWO Resource Manual Version 6.0, is $250.

Annual SWO designation fee

20+ employees  $250

1-19 employees $150

Sustainable Forestry Licensees: Contact your WSN Health and Safety Specialist for pricing.

SWO Resource Manual

Program materials are revised and updated to reflect new legislative requirements as well as evolving equipment, processes, and leading practices. All material is now available in both electronic and hard copy.


Each year, the SWO designation process occurs within the calendar year (January 1st to December 31st).  

Ongoing requirements

  1. Participating companies designated by the Safe Workplace Ontario program must make information available as part of ongoing program maintenance. 
  2. As part of both your ongoing and annual workplace health and safety review, participating companies voluntarily take remedial action when and where necessary and appropriate. 
  3. Participating companies revise programs in the event of significant changes in program levels such as a substantial increase in the number of employees or fundamental changes to operating equipment or practices.
  4. WSN health and safety specialists will conduct spot checks of participating company’s field operations and auditing of industry health and safety programs, when and where appropriate, to ensure the submitted reports are accurate and the company still meets the health and safety program standards.

Congratulations for being actively engaged in workplace health and safety!  

SWO Member – Resource Centre

Click on the links below to download the appropriate guides, checklists, information, and forms. See above section 'Getting started with SWO designation' for more information.

Register and purchase SWO Resource Manual Version 6.0 for new members

SWO Program Guide

SWO Self-Evaluation Form

SWO Program Timelines Calendar Year


Please contact your local WSN Health and Safety Specialist.