Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

Worker Loses Fingers, Food Processor Loses $110,000 Fine

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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Last week, the Ontario Court of Justice hit Maple Leaf Consumer Foods, carrying on business as Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and Cappola Foods, with a $110,000 fine for an accident in which a worker using a meat chopping machine lost several fingers.

According to a report from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the plant worker was operating a meat chopper, which has a moving blade enclosed in a small cage. When the blade was being operated and the cage was lifted, the blade would slowly come to a stop. While the worker was operating the machine, he noticed that some meat had become stuck in the blade, so he lifted the safety cage and used a hook to try and pull the meat from the blade, which continued to spin. The hook then became caught by the moving blade, which pulled the worker’s hand toward the blade, where his hand come into contact with the blade, which resulted in the loss of several fingers.

After a thorough investigation, the Ministry of Labour charged Maple Leaf Foods with failure, as an employer, to ensure that a moving part of a machine was cleaned only after it had stopped.

The $110,000 fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt, who also added in the 25 percent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

That means an easily avoidable accident ended up costing the company a total of $137,500. Compare that to the cost of training workers, and you’ll see what a bargain a safe workplace can be.

Heavy Equipment Theft Ring Busted

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

PoliceOntario Provincial Police (OPP) busted a very sophisticated and specialized theft ring and recovered more than $375,000 worth of heavy equipment.

The Barrie OPP officer was patrolling Hwy. 11 when he noticed some suspicious activity at a business location in an area just north of Barrie on Feb. 5 at 5 a.m., and stopped to investigate. Police nabbed two men and confiscated a mini-excavator, three skid-steers and a backhoe. All of the equipment had been stolen from businesses in surrounding townships over the past four months. In addition the heavy equipment, police also found a riding lawn mower, three ATVs, three generators and an $8,000 trailer.

Police describe the thefts as “made-to-order” and the criminals as “specialists.” The way the scheme worked is, if someone needed a $100,000 backhoe, they put in an order, and the thieves would find one and strip it down. In the case of the backhoe they recovered, even its lights had been removed. The thieves were so skilled, they were able to disable a machine’s GPS and remove the serial numbers, so that the owners may not even realize the machine was gone.

One of the alleged thieves is a 32-year-old Oro-Medonte man who was already on parole. He is still in custody. The second suspect, a 31-year-old man, also from Oro-Medonte, was released pending a future court date. Both men were charged with seven counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, five counts of possession under $5,000, as well as unauthorized possession and unsafe storage of a firearm.

Labour Ministry Announces Youth Video Contest to Promote Workplace Safety

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

thumbs_upxsmallThe Canadian Ministry of Labour has announced the second annual ”It’s Your Job!” video contest, and they are inviting high school students throughout Canada are to be creative in helping spread the word about staying safe on the job. The contest asks those students to shoot an original social media video that effectively brings home just how important it is to work safely.

The contest is designed so that students can participate in a provincial contest, with provincial and territorial winners then becoming eligible for two national contests. In one of them, the winner is chosen by a group of judges, but with the other Canadians can vote for their favourite video to win. At the national finals, the makers of the winning video will receive $2,000, with the second place video getting $1,500, and third place receiving $1,000. Provincial and territorial contest winners will be selected and notified by sometime this coming spring.

The Ministry considers events such as this video contest as crucial to creating a safety culture throughout Canada, as well as a great way to reach young people, who are at a greater risk of being injured on the job. Nearly a quarter of all occupational injuries are incurred by workers between the ages of 15 and 29. In 2011, a total of 68 Canadian workers aged 15 to 29 lost their lives in workplace accidents.

Engineer Faces Criminal Charges In Mall Collapse

Monday, February 10th, 2014

JudgementAs a result of an investigation into the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake in June 2012 that killed two people, police have laid two counts of criminal negligence causing death and another count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm against professional engineer Robert Wood.

According to police records, Wood was involved in numerous inspections of the building. A judicial inquiry into the mall’s collapse uncovered information indicating that the roof had leaked almost from the beginning, and that many years of water and salt had left the steel support structure severely rusted. Despite this, Wood conducted an inspection and declared the centre structurally sound just before its collapse.

The inquiry revealed a 2011 conversation in which Wood warned a prospective buyer of the mall that the structure had to be fixed or the roof would cave in, and that it would cost $1.5 million to fix. They also found out that a year later, just before the collapse, he told the mall’s owner that the steel supports showed surface rusting, but were otherwise “structurally sound.” Wood’s final inspection report before the collapse, dated May 3, 2012, reported “no visual distress.” He later admitted to making changes to the final report later, at the request of the mall’s owner. Among the changes were the removal of a reference to “ongoing” leakage,” and the removal of several photos showing yellow tarps that were being used to collect water from the roof and a corroded steel beam.

By the time of the altered inspection report and the collapse, however, Wood had already lost his professional engineering licence. That happened in November 2011, after he admitted to misconduct that was unrelated to the mall collapse. He continued to practise, anyway, as a “graduate” engineer and owner of Sault Ste, Marie-based M.R. Wright, with restrictions on what he could do. The mall collapse effectively ended his 40-year career.

In April 2013, Wood was also charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act as a professional engineer, for offences relating to giving negligent advice. Under the OH&S Act, the Ministry of Labour is permitted to lay charges against a professional engineer in cases where, “as a result of his or her advice that is given or his or her certification required under this Act that is made negligently or incompetently, a worker is endangered.”

Failing to Maintain Culture of Safety Costs Company $137,500

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

construtionLast week, Process Group Inc. was hit with a fine of $110,000 for a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), after an incident that occurred on October 27, 2010, when a worker was dismantling some equipment at a Windsor General Motors Transmission Plant, and was seriously injured while doing so.

The worker was attempting to decommission the piece of equipment for the company, which supplies engineering, construction and maintenance services to manufacturing plants. In order to gain access to the equipment that was being removed, it was necessary for several workers to remove sections of an overhead conveyor.

When the workers cut and began separating the conveyor section, they started by removing the anchor bolts on the conveyor’s base. When the last bolt was loosened, the conveyor section toppled and hit the worker, breaking several vertebrae in his back and also breaking a leg.

An inspection by the Ministry of Labour found that no blocking had been installed to prevent the collapse or movement of the conveyor section that was being dismantled.

At a trial held November 12, Process Group Inc. was found guilty of “failing as an employer to prevent the collapse or movement of part or all of a piece of equipment that is being dismantled, altered or repaired if its collapse or movement may endanger a worker.”

The sentencing took place on December 2, 2013. The fine of $110,000 was imposed by Ontario Court of Justice of the Peace Michael Hurst. The company was also issued the 25 percent victim surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

That means failing to train employees to take basic precautions when installing and removing equipment is costing Process Group, Inc.$137,500, not to mention the pain and suffering of the injured worker…. which is certainly a lot more than the cost of basic safety training.

Two New Bills Could Help Ontario Workers, Employers

Monday, December 9th, 2013

NewsTwo bills, numbers 146 and 147, were introduced in the Ontario legislature this past week, and both have a strong potential to have a serious impact Ontario workers and employers should they become law.

Bill 146, which is titled the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, would amend a number of employment law. Among them are the Employment Standards Act (ESA),the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), and the Labour Relations Act (LRA), among others. Among the most significant proposals in the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act include:

  • The elimination of the ESA $10,000 cap regarding recovery of unpaid wages and increasing the limitation period of recovery to two years from the current six or 12 months for employees. By doing this, the government hopes to keep a great many disputes out of the court system, saving workers and businesses time and money.
  • Requiring all Ontario employers to make available printed material containing information about ESA rights in both French and English and to make available the same information in 23 other languages upon request.
  • Making temporary employment agencies and clients liable for violations of employment standards, which the government hopes will reduce the number of instances in which employees are hired just to work under unsafe conditions.
  • Extension of OHSA coverage to unpaid learning workers such as co-op students, trainees and interns.

Bill 147, which is titled, “An Act to amend the Human Rights Code with respect to the awarding of costs of proceedings,” would amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to give the Human Rights Tribunal the power to award legal costs against an unsuccessful party in matters before the Tribunal. This could be huge, because employers currently bear their own legal costs, even when they successfully defend such a claim.

The Ministry of Labour says it’s attempting to stand up for workers and also increase fairness for businesses with these proposed bills.

Nova Scotia Auditor: Workplace Safety Needs More Follow Up

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

According to provincial auditors, Nova Scotia employers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to  make provincial workers safer, especially when it comes to following up on violations. Auditor general Jacques Lapointe noted that the Labour Department could do a better job of prevention by placing greater focus on enforcing work order compliance.

InspectorThe auditors discovered that, during the period between April 2012 and March 2013, a total of 10 summary offence tickets had been issued in 1,228 cases where workplaces failed to comply with safety orders in a timely manner.

The Labour Department did respond to the report, claiming that 95 percent of employers eventually complied with the orders. They also noted that they used administrative penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as a method for forcing employers to comply with safety orders. They did admit, however, that they had to be more consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules.

LaPointe also noted that only 27 of the 100 workplaces with the worst safety records were targeted for inspections during the period examined by auditors. According to the report, the current system does identify higher-risk workplaces, but then it fails to create a specific inspection plan for the year. Because of this tendency, the auditors’ report notes that many of the more dangerous workplaces in Nova Scotia fail to receive proper attention.

In addition to the auditors, a number of labour groups have also weighed in, demanding that the province hire more inspectors and pay more attention to the most dangerous workplaces. They note that, at current staffing levels, inspectors are stretched thin, and it’s not possible to do after-accident inspections and also perform pre-emptive inspections.

Ottawa Excavation Company Fined $125,000 For Electrocutions

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

gavelOttawa-based excavation services company Digsafe Inc. has been slapped with a $125,000 fine for a violation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Act for an accident in which one worker was killed and two others were injured while working near power lines, when all three received electrical shocks.

The accident that led to the large fine occurred on Moodie Drive in Ottawa on March 22, 2012, when a crew consisting of a worker for Digsafe and two other workers for another subcontractor were installing of new hydro poles and wires under existing energized lines.

The crew was excavating a hole when the vehicle’s boom came within three metres of the power lines, which were located about six metres above the hole. All three workers received electrical shocks, with the Digsafe employee dying later, while in hospital. Though the other two workers also went to hospital for treatment, they do not seem to have suffered permanent physical injuries.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that Digsafe Inc. failed, as an employer, to ensure that the boom of the vehicle was not brought within three metres of the energized power line, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company pled guilty to the charge.

In addition to the $125,000 fine, Justice of the Peace John Balkwill also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That brings the total hit to Digsafe’s bottom line to $156,250 for something that was easily avoidable with proper training.

Ontario Announces Warehouse “High Impact Visits” (Blitz)

Monday, November 18th, 2013

MOLThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is obviously trying to keep warehouse managers on their toes, and enforce safety in their workplaces, because they’ve warned them of yet another warehouse safety blitz which is scheduled for February and March 2014. They obviously intend to make warehouse managers concerned, because this time, instead of the word “blitz,” the MoL has chosen to use the term “high impact visits.”

These “high impact visits” will focus on five specific elements in the warehouse, including lift trucks, which they’ll be examining closely to make sure lift truck operators have been properly trained to follow Ministry of Labour guidelines. They will also check to make sure lift trucks are operated at CSA standards. They’ll also be taking a look at conveyors, paying particular attention to guards on the head and tension pulleys. They will also investigate lockout procedures, so if you don’t have one, you might want to develop one, and start-up warning devices.

Another area they will be looking at very closely are the warehouse racking systems, especially with regard to system capacities, and looking for compliance with manufacturers’ guidance. They will also investigate who installed them, and who performed pre-start health and safety reviews (PSRs), which are required by Ontario law, not just when they’re installed, but every time a qualified technician does a repair on the installation. If the warehouse has a crane, inspectors will want to take a look at documentation regarding pre-shift inspections, and whether crane operators have been fully trained regarding all aspects of crane operation, including hook ratings, sling angles and hot work.

Ministry inspectors will also take a close look at all aspects of the loading dock operation of the warehouse, including documentation regarding training, especially with the lifting equipment on the dock and truck safety, dock inspections and preventative maintenance.

Failing to make sure your warehouse is in safe working condition could end up costing you. The time to prepare is now.

Alberta OHS Officer to Begin Assessing Penalties On-the-Spot Oct. 1

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

alberta-flagTimes have changed in Alberta, and your company would do well to keep up. For the first time, beginning October 1, Occupational Health and Safety Officers will be able to slap monetary penalties on individuals and companies, including workers, who commit violations of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, Regulations or Code on the spot, without having to take them to court first.

The changes in the law apply to all “Regulated Persons,” which means employers, prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and workers, and it allows those performing inspections to issue administrative penalties if any or all of the above, in the OHS Officer’s opinion, commit an OHS violation, or if they failed to Comply with an order made under the OHS Act, Regulation or Code.

An on-the-spot administrative penalty cannot exceed $10,000.00, except in those cases where there is a continuing violation or a failure to comply with a previous order. In those cases, they can assess a fine of as much as $10,000.00 for each day or part of a day during that the violation or failure to comply continues. The officer doesn’t have to issue the penalty on the spot; the deadline for serving written notice of an administrative penalty is 2 years from the date of the alleged violation. But they no longer have to prosecute first. The person or company must have at least 30 days to either pay or contest the citations after being served.

In considering the size of the penalty, the OHS Officer must consider both the seriousness and the risk of harm resulting from the violation, but they also have to discretion to consider any other relevant factors, as well.

Although OHS can undertake a prosecution, by paying the administrative penalty, the company or individual is free and clear, and cannot be charged again with the same violation or failure to comply.

In addition to the administrative penalties, beginning January 1, 2014, OHS officers will be allowed to issue tickets for as much as $500.00 to companies and individuals for certain Regulation and Code violations. These tickets will target minor violations, or violations by workers such s failure to use fall protection equipment or other Personal Protective Equipment.