90 Years of Workplace Health and Safety History at IAPA


1884: Passage of the Ontario Factories Act. It sets up a system of inspection to ensure safety and health standards in factories. The number of hours that could be worked was set at 72 per week.

1906: Report of the Ontario Inspectors of Factories notes that Ontario had 636 industrial accidents, 95 of which were fatal.

1914: Passage of the Workmen's Compensation Act, creating the Workmen's Compensation Board. Ontario is the first province in Canada to have such an act.

1915: Federation of Safety Associations (precursor of IAPA). Creation of associations was instigated by the Canadian Manufacturers Association:

The existence of the provisions for Accident Prevention Associations in the Act is due entirely to the Canadian Manufacturers Association. The development of the Provisions is likewise due to the Canadian Manufacturers Association. It will depend, as all such things do, upon the manner in which the principles of the scheme are applied and adapted in practice, particularly in the initial stages, whether the work will be successful and permanent.

     – From minutes of meetings held at the offices of the Canadian Manufacturers Association.


233 workplace fatalities in Ontario
Source: IAPA Ontario Workplace Injury and Workplace Fatality Report, 1917

July 17, 1917: The Industrial Accident Prevention Associations (IAPA) is formed with an initial staff of seven people.

19 safety associations amalgamate to form IAPA, among them:

  • Furniture Manufacturers Safety Association
  • Woodworkers Accident Prevention Association
  • Ceramics and Stone Safety Association
  • Metal Trades Safety Association
  • Implement and Vehicle Manufacturers Safety Association
  • Chemical Industries Safety Association
  • Packers Accident Prevention Association
  • Food and Tobacco Products Safety Association
  • Leather, Rubber, and Tanners Safety Association
  • Textile Manufacturers Safety Association
  • Wearing Apparel Manufacturers, Cleaners, and Launderers Safety Association
  • Printing Trades Accident Prevention Association

IAPA’s vision is to “represent and act for its member associations for accident prevention.”

November 25, 1917: IAPA’s first annual conference on the subject of workplace health and safety is held at the Normal School in Toronto and attended by 250 people.

*In 2007, attendance at IAPA’s 90th annual conference exceeded more than 6,000 people.


1921: IAPA’s first General Manager - R.B. Morley:

Safety is not a new idea; it is as old as man. Safety is largely a matter of common sense. We have heard in the last few years a very general use of ‘efficiency’ and ‘co-operation’ but it seems to me, we have to get down to another word in accident prevention work and that is ‘responsibility.’

1924: IAPA establishes the Essex/Kent Division – the first group of volunteers that would assist IAPA staff in the delivery of its services to the community, as well as the exchange of health and safety information. More than 20 Divisions across Ontario would follow.

IAPA’s annual conference becomes a two-day event and is attended by 400 people.

1925: First health and safety trade show at IAPA’s annual conference with the introduction of a safety equipment exhibition.

*In 2007, 410 booths featuring health and safety products and services were featured on the trade show floor at IAPA’s 90th annual conference.

1928: Canada, and IAPA in particular, is gaining recognition in the worldwide community of industrial nations. At a 1928 IAPA meeting, cablegrams of good wishes arrive from such cities as Sydney, Brussels, Geneva, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, and Tokyo.


1930: IAPA represents 8,000 member firms, which in turn represent 200,000 people.

1932: Employment and Social Insurance Act and Minimum Wage Act are passed. Public workers are limited to a 44-hour workweek and industrial workers are limited to a 48-hour workweek. Rapid changes in industry, brought on by mass production and introduction of new machinery.

1939: IAPA introduces a Certificate of Merit to be awarded to firms that operate one year without a lost-time accident.


1940: IAPA has a labour inspection staff of 16 people, who carry out 11,000 inspections. IAPA also distributes over a million pieces of accident prevention literature.

1941 – 1945: Prime Minister Mackenzie King sends message to IAPA:

With the utmost conservation of manpower, essential to a total war effort, every effort to reduce the number of industrial accidents is a vital national service.

1946: IAPA launches its first October Safety Drive - would be an annual campaign for several decades that advocated general health and safety.

IAPA annual conference attracted 3,000 delegates, 2,000 from outside of the Toronto area.

1949: IAPA’s membership numbers 17,000 firms. As part of its annual October safety drive, IAPA launches a No Accident Month Campaign and begins to recognize firms that have operated one million hours without a lost-time accident.

IAPA General Manager R.B. Morley is one of three Canadian delegates to attend the Technical Conference on Safety in Industrial Establishments, held in Geneva, Switzerland.


1950: IAPA staff numbers 57 individuals, 19 of whom are workplace inspectors. A total of 10,419 plant inspections and 18,894 recommendations for the improvements of conditions found in the plants of IAPA members are made. A major activity of IAPA at this time is the publishing of posters, pamphlets, and booklets on accident prevention. Approximately, 1.5 million pieces of literature on workplace health and safety are produced.

IAPA General Manager R.B. Morley retires in 1950. A trophy is named in his honour and awarded to the company operating for the greatest number of hours without a lost-time accident. The Campbell Soup Company is the first recipient.

Gordon Anderson becomes IAPA’s second General Manager.

IAPA is educating member firms about workplace health and safety through literature items, training courses, plant visits by field staff, safety films, and televised public service announcements. IAPA inspectors are renamed “safety counselors,” reflecting the shift at IAPA from an inspection force to a source of training and education.

1956: IAPA launches Accident Prevention, a health and safety magazine for its membership.

IAPA’s annual conference attracts 3,928 delegates who represent 10 provinces and 12 U.S. states.


1961: IAPA initiates request for federal legislation requiring labelling of hazardous substances.

1964: Amendment of the Workmen's Compensation Act. It establishes the role of the associations as education, not inspection.

1965: IAPA opens the Safety Training Centre, complete with facilities for classroom sessions and practical demonstrations. The Centre would close in 1984 and training courses would be offered closer to participants’ workplaces.

IAPA General Manager Gordon Anderson summarizes the efforts of accident prevention associations like IAPA:

Ontario has for years had one of the lowest percentages of compensable serious injury cases in any province or state. This is a tribute to Ontario’s accident prevention measures.

1967: IAPA develops a new department, Consultation Services, whose staff will consult with firms about new equipment hazard evaluation and serious injury investigation.

1969: IAPA’s third General Manager, R.G. Loftus, begins his tenure.




1970: IAPA changes its name from Industrial Accident Prevention Associations to Industrial Accident Prevention Association.

IAPA finances a study carried out at York University called Project FACTS to determine the effects of first-aid training on the rate of industrial accidents. Statistics showed a strong correlation between first-aid training and fewer injuries. Supported by IAPA, St. John’s Ambulance would conduct a test program involving the training of individuals in the workplace and the Workmen’s Compensation Board (today’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) would sponsor the initiative.

1971: IAPA’s annual conference becomes a three-day event.

IAPA General Manager R.G. Loftus is invited by the Department of Labour and National Service of the Commonwealth of Australia to address delegates at the National Conference on Industrial Safety.

IAPA records show the association was visited by occupational health and safety representatives from Australia, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.

1975: IAPA launches concept of loss control management which sees a change from injury investigation to looking at the basic cause of accidents, whether an injury occurred or not, and emphasizing injury prevention.

IAPA’s Loss Control Management seminars would become the association’s most popular training session, which had a 46.5% increase in registration in the first four months of 1976, compared with 1975.

Loss Control Management became dubbed the “hub of the accident prevention wheel” with other training seminars complementing it, such as Damage Control, Accident Investigation, Practical Accident Control Techniques, Safety Committee, and Safety Co-ordinator’s Development.

1976: J.V. Findlay becomes IAPA’s fourth General Manager. IAPA would go on to establish the J.V. Findlay Award – a bursary for students pursuing studies in occupational health and safety.

1979: Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act is passed.


1983: IAPA launches 25-in-5 Program, aimed at reducing lost-time injuries in Ontario by 25% in five years.

1984: IAPA reorganizes into five regional centres to allow for more focused and efficient means of meeting the needs of its member firms: London, Burlington, Rexdale, Kingston, and Sudbury.

1987: IAPA launches the School Safety Awareness Program to introduce health and safety to secondary and vocational schools. Students receive certification in recognition of successful completion of an in-class health and safety program.

R.H. Ramsay becomes IAPA’s fifth General Manager.










1990: IAPA’s staff numbers 230. IAPA firms targeted by the association and received its assistance posted a 23% reduction in their injury frequency rate.
Source: IAPA Annual Review, 1990

1995: The position of General Manager is replaced with the position of President and CEO and filled by Maureen Shaw.

More than 14,000 members and customers enrolled in IAPA courses and another 6,000 completed IAPA's core certification training, a standardized health and safety program for joint health and safety committees.

1996: IAPA sets goal of 30% reduction in workplace injuries by the year 2000.

IAPA offers ergonomics services and physical demands analysis as part of its consulting services as repetitive strain injuries become an increasing area of concern.

*IAPA would be part of the health and safety team that created the MSD Prevention Guideline and Resource Manual for Ontario, launched on February 28, 2007.

Young Worker Awareness Program (YWAP) is launched. Developed by IAPA and the Workers Health and Safety Centre, YWAP is supported by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. IAPA’s volunteers are heavily involved in the steering of YWAP.

1997: IAPA introduces a new vision and mission:

Our Mission

To improve the quality of life in workplaces and communities we serve by being an internationally recognized leader in providing effective programs, products and services for the prevention of injury and illness.

Our Vision

A world where risks are controlled because everyone believes suffering and loss are morally, socially, and economically unacceptable.

IAPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Council of Hong Kong sign an agreement aimed at the prevention of workplace injury, illness, and death by pooling resources and expertise.

1998: IAPA’s annual conference is attended by more than 4,700 delegates.



2000: IAPA is named one of the best places to work in Canada – Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Richard Yerema.

IAPA customer value survey finds that 93% of customers felt their expectations were met or exceeded.

IAPA launches the IMS System™ - the association’s own integrated management system for safety, health, and the environment, which offers a unique solution for organizations wanting to streamline their managed systems.

2002: IAPA is designated as an International Labour Organization – CIS Collaborating Centre, one of only three in Canada.

2003: 48,287 young people participate in IAPA’s youth outreach health and safety activities.

2004: For the first time in IAPA history, the lost-time injury rate for IAPA member firms drops below 2.00 (the average number of lost-time injuries experienced for every 100 workers).
Source: IAPA Annual Review, 2004

31,431 people participate in IAPA training programs, a 9% increase over 2003.

IAPA becomes a sponsor of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Safety Group program. Firms in IAPA’s Safety Group experience a 26.2% reduction in lost-time injuries.
Source: WSIB Safety Group Profile, 2004

IAPA develops new two-day Certification Part One training for manufacturing and offices. The manufacturing course ranks as one of the year’s top five training choices by attendance.

IAPA is designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health.

IAPA is the only centre among 56 worldwide to assume the title of a "WHO Collaborating Centre in Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention."

2005: IAPA achieves one million hours worked over 15 years without a lost-time injury.

Member firms experiencing an IAPA training intervention experience a 17% reduction in lost-time accidents.
Source: IAPA Annual Review, 2005

The CEO Health & Safety Leadership Charter, an alliance of business and government leaders from all regions and sectors across Canada committed to achieving a Canada-wide breakthrough in health and safety performance, is launched at IAPA’s annual conference.

IAPA’s President and CEO Maureen Shaw, as well as other representatives from IAPA, are invited to address delegates at the International Labour Office/International Social Security Association XVIIth World Congress in Orlando, FL.

IAPA collaborates with the Pan American Health Organization.

IAPA co-hosts Pakistan’s first major workplace health and safety conference.

Statistics from the Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada show that every day in Canada three workers are killed and 926 workers are injured on the job.

2006: IAPA’s head office moves to the Centre for Health & Safety Innovation, a project initiated in 1999.

IAPA develops, in collaboration with the Municipal Health & Safety Association, Confined Space Entry, a new training program, which receives the Canadian Award for Training Excellence for an External Training Program from the Canadian Society for Training and Development. IAPA’s training program for new and inexperienced young workers, First 4 Weeks, receives an honourable mention in the External e-Learning Training Program category.

IAPA is certified to ISO 9001:2000 for the design and delivery of training.

IAPA receives the National Quality Institute’s Progressive Excellence Program Level III for Quality Certificate.

IAPA is a recipient of a Bronze Level Quality Award of the Canada Awards for Excellence.








































The International Association of Labour Inspectors (IALI) holds its annual conference in Toronto – the first time an IALI conference is held in North America. IAPA co-hosts IALI Conference 2007 with IALI and the Ontario Ministry of Labour, in cooperation with the International Labour Organization, the Government of Canada, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

IAPA’s staff numbers more than 210, with offices in Mississauga, London, Ottawa, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay.

IAPA represents more than 50,000 member firms and in excess of 1.5 million Ontario workers. IAPA is one of Canada’s leading workplace health and safety organizations. The association is focused on providing industry-leading training, consulting, educational products, and informational services that meet members’ needs and the needs of those in their communities.

The industry groups that IAPA represents include:

  1. Agri Business
  2. Chemical and Plastics
  3. Food and Beverage Products
  4. Glass, Stone and Ceramics
  5. High-Tech
  6. Industrial/Auto Sales
  7. Leather, Rubber, and Tanners
  8. Metal Trades
  9. Office and Related Services
  10. Printing Trades
  11. Textile and Allied Trades
  12. Woodworkers