Introduction to OHCOW
For over 25 years, OHCOW has been a valuable injury and illness prevention resource for the workers and workplaces of Ontario. The first clinics, proposed by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and funded through the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), were founded in Hamilton and Toronto in 1989. Expansion to Windsor, Sudbury, Sarnia, Thunder Bay and more recently Ottawa occurred over the next 20+ years.
Staffed by an inter-disciplinary team of nurses, hygienists, ergonomists, client service coordinators, administrators and contracted physicians, each OHCOW clinic provides unique, comprehensive occupational health services, all free of charge:
- Inquiry service to answer work-related health and safety questions
- Clinical services to provide evidence-based technical and medical reports determining work-relatedness for individuals
- Group service providing exposure or health-based prevention consulting for workplaces, health and safety committees and groups of workers
- Outreach and education to increase awareness of health and safety issues, foster dialogue and promote prevention strategies.
- Research services to better understand hazards, illness incidence and control effectiveness.
OHCOW is governed by an eighteen person volunteer Board of Directors drawn from Labour and Community Stakeholders. Each clinic maintains a Local Advisory Committee to be responsive to community needs. Leadership of OHCOW is comprised of the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, four Executive Directors and the Manager of Accounting. Funding and direction is provided from the Ministry of Labour Prevention Office through a Transfer Payment Agreement. The Provincial Office, in Toronto, supports the activities of the clinics, liaises with the Ministry and regulators and manages Finance, HR & IT.