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Adverse water quality incident (AWQI)

An event that suggests the small drinking water system may not be providing water that is safe for users to drink.

Bloodborne exposure

When blood or body fluids containing blood from one person comes in contact with mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) or broken skin (open cut, wound) of another person. Needle stick injuries from a sharp object contaminated with blood or body fluid is also considered a bloodborne exposure.

Bloodborne infections

Infections that spread through contaminated blood or other body fluids (e.g. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus).

Boil water advisory (BWA)

A Boil water advisory (BWA) is a public announcement telling people to boil their water. A BWA is a safety measure issued to protect the public from bacteria or other organisms that may be in the water. Boiling of the water is required to make the water safe to use. An alternate supply of potable water may also be recommended (e.g. bottled water) on a temporary basis.  


The physical removal of materials (e.g., dust, soil, germs). Cleaning physically removes rather than kills germs and it is a very important step before disinfection.  

Complaint inspection

An inspection by a public health inspector because of a complaint received, as mandated by the Ontario Public Health Standards.  

Contact time

The length of time a disinfectant is to be in contact with a surface or device to achieve the desired result.


A legal outcome of a charge placed before the Ontario Court of Justice in which an individual or business has either pled guilty to the charge or has been found guilty of an offence by the decision of the courts at the completion of a trial or in the absence of the defendant(s). Outcome may include fines and/or court orders or alternative sentencing.

Corrected during inspection (CDI)

The infraction found during an inspection was able to be corrected immediately without a follow-up inspection needing to be scheduled.

Critical infractions

Infractions (violations or issues) that present a higher risk for a health hazard to be present. Most critical infractions must be corrected at the time of inspection or, an acceptable measure must temporarily be in place to ensure that the hazard is controlled. An example of a critical infraction is not cooking food to the internal temperatures required to kill harmful germs.


The unintentional transfer of harmful germs, chemicals or physical hazards from a person, object or place to another.


A document that outlines the operational requirements that must be carried out by the owner/operator of a small drinking water system. This document is issued in accordance with section 7 of Ontario Regulation 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems). A directive is issued to an owner/operator on completion of a site-specific risk assessment or other inspection process conducted by a public health inspector.


A Health Canada approved product that is used on surfaces or equipment and instruments to result in disinfection of the surfaces or equipment and instruments.


A process that kills or destroys most germs. There are different levels of disinfection.

Equipment/instrument is to be cleaned thoroughly before disinfection can take place.  

Drinking water advisory (DWA)

A Drinking Water Advisory (DWA) is a public announcement issued by the health unit telling people to use an alternate water source, such as bottled water. A DWA is a safety measure issued to protect the public from usually chemical contamination that may be in the water.

Follow-up inspection

Also known as a re-inspection. A follow-up visit to a facility conducted by a public health inspector to check that previously identified problems have been corrected. Follow up inspections are carried out within a period of time that is relative to how serious the problem is.

Food handler

An employee who handles or comes into contact with any utensil or food during its preparation, processing, packaging, service, storage or transportation.  

Food-borne illness

Also known as “food poisoning”, happens when people eat or drink food contaminated by bacteria, parasites, viruses or chemicals. Salmonella and E.coli are two common types of bacteria that cause food-borne illness.

Hand hygiene

A general term referring to the removal of visible soil and removal or killing of germs from the hands. Hand hygiene may be accomplished by using an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) or, if hands are visibly soiled, by using soap and running water.

Hand washing

The physical removal of soil and germs from the hands using plain liquid soap and running water.

Hazardous food

Any food that is capable of supporting the growth of pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms or the production of toxins by such organisms. Examples include food(s) with high levels of protein, moisture and neutral acidity (meats, dairy products and poultry).

Health hazard

A condition of a premises; a substance, thing, plant or animal other than man; or a solid, liquid, gas or combination of any of them, that has or that is likely to have an adverse effect on the health of any person.

Health hazard order

Verbal or written direction to ensure health hazards are eliminated immediately and ensure establishments meet the requirements set out in associated regulations. Orders are issued by public health inspectors under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990, and can apply to any public setting.


Also known as vaccination, protects people from disease by introducing a vaccine into the body that triggers an immune response, just as though you had been exposed to a disease naturally. Immunity through immunization happens without the consequence of being ill and without the risk of potential life-threatening complications from the disease.  


The entry and multiplication of germs that are not normally present in the body.

Infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices

Evidence-based practices and procedures that can prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of germs to others.

Infection prevention and control (IPAC) lapse

A failure to follow IPAC practices resulting in a risk of transmission of germs to clients, attendees or staff through exposure to blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, or contaminated equipment and soiled items.  


Failure to meet the minimum standard requirements set out in associated acts, regulations, best practices or by-laws. The term “infraction” may also be called “violation”, “contravention”, or “offence”.  

Invasive service

A procedure that involves equipment or instruments entering into the body, by cutting, puncturing, or otherwise entering intact skin or mucous membranes.

Licensed child care centre

Child care that is provided at a child care centre licensed by the Ministry of Education under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, S.O. 2014, c.11.  

Natural play

Any activity using objects from nature (e.g. pine cones, sticks, stones, leaves).  


It means that the requirements under provincial acts, regulations, or best practices are not met and result in infractions.

Non-critical infractions

Violations present a low to moderate risk for a health hazard to be present. An example of a non-critical infraction is, a food handler not wearing a hair restraint while handling food.  


An unexpected increase of disease occurring within a specific population at a given time and place.  


A person who has responsibility for and/or control over activities in an establishment to ensure compliance with applicable legislation and directives.

Personal service

Any service, including an invasive procedure, such as hairdressing and barbering, tattooing, body piercing, nail services, electrolysis, and various other aesthetic services.  

Personal service setting (PSS)

A premises at which personal services are offered where there is a risk of exposure to blood or body fluids. Includes home-based and mobile businesses.  

Potable water

Water that is of sufficient quality for humans to drink.


Any building or structure on land or water including ships, boats, trailers, mobile units, portable structures, trains, vehicles, used for business.  

Public health inspectors

Specifically educated, trained and certified professionals who are required to investigate, risk assess, monitor and eliminate health and safety hazards in the community. Public health inspectors (PHIs) are statutory officials under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990, and related regulations.

Public pools – Class A

Class “A” pools include pools: to which the general public is admitted; operated in part or as part of an educational, instructional, physical fitness or athletic facility program that receives public funding; located on the premises of a recreational camp.

Public pools – Class B

Class “B” pools include pools: operated on the premises of an apartment building or single-family private homes that contains 6 or more units or a mobile home park; operated on the premises of a hotel or campground; operated in conjunction with a club, a condominium or co-operative community property that contains 6 or more units; operated in conjunction with a child care centre, a day camp or an establishment or facility for the care or treatment of persons who have special needs, for the use of those persons and their visitors.

Public pools – Class C facilities

Class C facilities include any of the following: public wading pools, public splash pads and water slide receiving basins. 

Public spa

A hydro-massage pool containing an artificial body of water that is intended primarily for therapeutic or recreational use, that is not drained, cleaned or refilled before use by each individual and that utilizes hydro-jet circulation, air induction bubbles, current flow or a combination of them over the majority of the pool area.

Recreational camp

Means a camp for recreational activities on a site in which sleeping and eating facilities are provided for temporary occupancy, with or without charge, for five or more persons who are under eighteen years of age or persons who have special needs.

Recreational water facility

Includes pools, spas, splashpad/ spray parks, wading pools and water slide receiving basins.

Risk assessment

A term used to describe the overall process where you: 1) Identify hazards that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification); 2) Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation); and 3) Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).

Risk categorization - small drinking water systems

A risk categorization tool developed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) is used by public health inspectors to conduct site-specific risk assessments of small drinking water systems. The risk categorization tool assesses all parts of a SDWS from source water to water available at the tap to users by applying the steps of a multi- barrier approach to protect drinking water. SDWS are assigned one of the following risk categories for the system as a whole: High = Significant level of risk (Inspected once every year); Moderate = Medium level of risk (Inspected once every 4 years); Low = Negligible level of risk (Inspected once every 4 years). 

Routine inspection

Also called a “compliance inspection”, it is an inspection to assess if provincial acts, regulations and best practices are being followed. The number of routine inspections in a timeframe is based on the outcome of the risk assessment.

Routine practices

The system of IPAC practices recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada to be used to prevent and control the transmission of germs. 


The treatment of food contact surfaces by a chemical or temperature that decreases, but not kills, the number of germs.

Sensory play

Any activity that explores children’s senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing.  


Any object or instrument capable of causing punctures or cuts to the skin (e.g. needles, blades, lancets, razors, etc.).

Single-use/disposable item

Any item that is designed to be used once and then discarded as it cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected or sterilized.

Small drinking water system

A small drinking water system is a system of works (excluding plumbing) that is established for the purpose of providing users of the system with drinking water. Small drinking water systems include those systems regulated under the Health Protection and Protection Act and Ontario Regulation 319/08. If your business or premises makes drinking water available to the public and you do not get your drinking water from a municipal drinking water system, you may be an owner or operator of a small drinking water system. Examples of SDWS operations include food establishments, bed and breakfast establishments, golf courses, ski resorts and campgrounds with a water supply.


The process of destroying all germs including viruses, bacteria, fungi and bacterial spores. All items that pierce or intentionally penetrate the skin must be sterile.


A notice of offence or summons to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice regarding charges for infractions related to public health acts, regulations or by-laws.  


Tickets are usually issued if infractions (violations) of the provincial regulation and/or guidelines and/or are observed by a public health inspector.

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