Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

Saskatchewan Concerned Over Fall Safety

Friday, August 26th, 2016

investigatorIn Saskatchewan, safety officials are examining serious problems with fall safety at residential construction sites throughout the province. Their Occupational Health and Safety Division (OHS) took a look at the results of inspections conducted on such sites in 2015 and found a startling lack of compliance with OHS regulations.

For example, during two stepped up inspection campaigns last year, they only found 41 percent compliance with regulations regarding the covering of openings into which a worker could step or fall. When it came to providing barriers for open shafts, they found only 20 per cent  compliance. Only 48 per cent of sites were compliant with regarding the wearing of protective headgear, only 41 per cent used fall protection and only 50 percent of workers had even been trained with regard to an effective fall protection plan.

That’s why WorkSafe Saskatchewan is now engaged in a campaign to remind those contractors engaged in home building and renovation to pay closer attention to problems such as these. Based on the 2015 Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Annual Report, construction trades helpers and labourers made 775 accepted claims, which was the fourth-highest number in the province.

That’s also why OHS will be stepping up inspections at residential construction sites for the rest of the summer and throughout the fall. They plan to focus on the most dangerous and pressing compliance issues in residential construction, including uncovered openings and failure to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and fall protection equipment. If your residential construction worksite isn’t up to standards, contractors can expect to be hit with fines and possibly even stop-work orders, so be prepared.

Failure to Lock Out Robot Costs Company

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

lockoutAfter a trial and a conviction for violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act, Matcor Automotive Inc., an Ontario-based manufacturer of metal auto parts, was hit with a huge fine of $270,000, primarily because hey didn’t require that workers lock out machinery before working on it.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on January 15, 2013 at a company facility in Brampton, when a robotic device left a worker with a devastating injury. The incident started when someone advised a supervisor of a problem with a robot cell and the supervisor instructed a maintenance worker to fix the problem. The maintenance worker, believing the repair would be easy one, entered the robot cell without locking out power to the robot or any other nearby machinery. In order to reach the part of the robot that needed to be repaired, the worker had to position himself on a railing adjacent to a conveyor belt to the left of the tooling.

While he was attempting to do the repair, the worker felt pressure on his back and realized that it was the robot doing the pressing. Several co-workers managed to move the injured worker from the conveyor belt and place him on the floor, but the worker’s injuries were serious and permanent.

After a trial that took six days, the company was convicted on three counts. Based on testimony, the court found that maintenance workers were expected to make a judgment call regarding locking out and tagging out a piece of equipment. They also found that there was little actual supervision of workers at the plant. Based on that, the company was found guilty of failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect the health and safety of the worker with respect to working near robotic equipment and failing to ensure that the measures and procedures, as prescribed by Section 75(a) and Section 76 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (O. Reg. 851) were carried out in the workplace.

In addition to the guilty verdict, Justice of the Peace Darlene Florence imposed $270,000 fine and also imposed the 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge required by the Provincial Offences Act.  That means the company is out $337,500 simply because they didn’t put in place a policy to lock-out/tag-out every machine whenever someone works on it. With that policy, the company may have saved a few minutes while they were lucky, but look at what happened when their luck ran out.

Two Cement Truck Accidents in a Week

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

hardhatLast week was not a good one for workers working with or on cement trucks in the Ottawa area. For example, on Wednesday, August 10, officials with the Ontario Ministry of Labour were informed of an incident at a new residential construction site in the Greely area.

According to the Ottawa Paramedic Service, they treated a 43-year-old worker for both a concussion and a serious hand injury as a result of being struck by the metal pipe of a cement pumping truck. It happened as the cement was being poured into wooden forms at the time of the incident. On Thursday, it was reported that the worker was in stable condition in an unidentified Ottawa hospital.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t even the first accident of the week involving workers and a cement truck. Last Monday, another construction worker, later identified as Jacques Lambert, died after he was pulled into a cement mixer at Lafarge Canada construction site in Ottawa’s east end.

In that incident, Lambert, who was an employee of Ottawa-based Prestige Design and Construction Haulage Limited, whom Lafarge had contracted, tried to clear some caked-on concrete from the truck when he fell and was somehow pulled into the drum. According to reports from emergency personnel who arrived at the scene, several of his co-workers tried to help but said that he was too badly injured. The emergency crews rushed to the site after receiving the call and climbed the cement truck’s ladder, but found that the worker had already died.

Officials from the Ontario Ministry of Labour are investigating. None of the companies involved with either incident have commented, except to say that they are cooperating with the investigation. Any charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be laid within one year of the incident. If convicted, companies can be fined as much as $500,000, while individuals who are found guilty can be penalized as much as $25,000 or spend as much as 12 months in jail.


Company Fined for Demo Site Injury

Monday, August 15th, 2016

ExcavatorIn an Ontario court last week, a family-owned construction company that specializes in demolition services for the construction industry, Sean Teperman Consulting Corp., pleaded guilty to violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and was hit with a $50,000 fine for an accident in which a new construction worker was seriously injured.

The accident that led to the violation and fine happened on April 10, 2014, while the company was in the process of demolishing a building in Toronto. The worker, who was on only his second day on the job, was working with a crew to load dump trucks with debris using an excavator. The excavator would lift the debris and place it into the dump truck, with the worker in question acting as a spotter for the excavator operator, while being positioned in a box inside the bed. However, as the debris was being loaded, he was struck by the moving bucket from the excavator. The worker was subsequently taken to hospital for serious injuries.

An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour found that the worker who was supposed to be doing the spotting was actually not even visible to the excavator operator.  They determined that this was a violation of the Construction Projects Regulation that states, “no worker shall remain on or in a vehicle, machine or equipment while it is being loaded or unloaded if the worker might be endangered by remaining there.” They also charged the company with violating OHS regulations requiring that an employer ensure that a worker is working with all protective measures and procedures required by the Construction Projects Regulation.

After the company pleaded guilty, Sean Teperman Consulting Corp. and was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Sunny Ng in Toronto court. The court then imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a total hit to the company’s bottom line of $62,500 because failed to make sure every worker at the site was safe.

Does Greater Protection Lead to Greater Cost?

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Loonie_reverse_viewMany maintain that greater regulation can often lead to better protection for workers, while others maintain that regulations simply shift the cost burden from the private to the public, to the detriment of taxpayers. An example of this controversy can be found in Alberta right now, as advocates with the Farmworkers Union of Alberta have heaped praise on the province for its decision to move moving forward with new protections for workers on farms, at the same time advocates for farmers are taking the exact opposite position.

Ever since the Alberta government passed Bill 6, a farm workers’ safety bill that has drawn a tremendous amount of controversy since it was passed, according to the provincial Workers’ Compensation Board, the number of claims by farm workers has more than doubled. Some advocates claim that is a sure sign of the success of the regulation. They suggest that the increase in claims means more farm workers are being protected, which means they are more likely to get the medical care and physiotherapy they need.

Under Bill 6, known as the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, all farmers and ranchers who hire outside help are now required to provide workers’ compensation (WCB) coverage to them. Having greater protection means more workers are using the protection. For the first six months of 2016, the WCB received 395 farm worker claims, considerably more than double the 158 they received for the same time period in 2015.

Some claim, however, that the increased number of claims may be misleading. The Alberta Federation of Agriculture, for example, maintains that many farm workers who were injured before would have been covered by a private insurance plan or out-of-pocket by the farmers themselves. They maintain that the number of accidents hasn’t increased significantly and that the difference simply demonstrates that workers are just paying for their injuries differently.

Ford Plant Accident Leads to MoL Orders

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Hardhat Safety manualOntario Ministry of Labour inspectors have issued a total of four work orders against the Ford Motor Company in the wake of an accident at the company’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor last Wednesday, August 3, that resulted in a 47-year-old worker receiving a significant head injury.

According to reports of the incident, the worker was injured when an object fell and struck him on the head, while he was at his work station. As he was working, a machine he was working on “caught a vent” and knocked the vent off. When the vent fell, it hit him in the back of the head, causing him to lose consciousness for a time, as well as a one-inch laceration to the back of the head. Paramedics were called and reported that the man was bleeding and temporarily lost consciousness before they transported the worker by ambulance to Windsor Regional Hospital, where he was subsequently treated for non-life threatening injuries and released soon after.

Paramedics were called and have reported that, when they arrived, the worker was bleeding and had lost consciousness before they transported him by ambulance to Windsor Regional Hospital, where he was subsequently treated for what they described as non-life threatening injuries. He was released soon after.

The Ministry of Labour  then issued a stop work order until the company could ensure that materials and equipment were secured, as well as orders forcing the company to find a “permanent solution to a temporarily supported piece of material in a workstation.” The stop work order was lifted on Thursday. As of Friday, the “permanent solution” order was still in progress. Ministry of Labour officials continue to  investigate the incident. Hopefully, that includes the question of why such workers apparently aren’t wearing hardhats.

Paving Machine Rollover Accident

Monday, August 8th, 2016

motorgraderAccording to the Alberta Ministry of Labour, safety officials there are investigating an accident at a road construction zone near the town of Beaverlodge, located near the border with British Columbia. The accident, which occurred on July 25, claimed the lives of two workers, who were crushed when they were operating an asphalt reclaimer as part of a highway repaving project and the machine rolled over into a ditch, crushing them.

Though the information released was limited, the Beaverlodge detachment of RCMP did confirm the two fatalities. They said that a Vancouver-based construction company, Ledcor Group, is the main contractor for the paving project, but that the two workers, whose names were not released, worked for a subcontractor, Lafarge, which is a supplier of construction materials throughout North America that counts its Calgary location as one of its main offices.

Alberta Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety investigators are in the process of investigating the incident. Two days after the accident, they issued a stop-use order on the asphalt reclaimer, as well as a stop-work order on the overall road reclamation process at the worksite until they could gather more information. RCMP officials noted that they have never heard of a rollover accident involving any piece of road paving equipment. This does seem to be an unusual occurrence, so it will be interesting to find out whether or not this machine had been maintained properly, or if the operators had been properly trained or were doing something they should not have.

Company Fined for Not Securing Structure

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

stop and think signOntario-based Welded Tube of Canada Corporation was found guilty of violating several provisions of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and has been fined $50,000 for an incident in which one of their workers was injured by a falling post.

The incident that led to the charges and the fine happened on March 5, 2014 at a construction site in Concord. On that date, workers were in the process of dismantling and replacing a steel storage system, which consisted of what are called “sleeper beams,” which are described as 7-inch hollow steel tubes. These “sleeper beams” were laid out on the ground and vertical upright posts were being welded onto the sleeper beams. When one of the workers cut loose one of the upright posts, that caused the posts to shift and then fall onto a worker, striking and injuring him. Thankfully, since the accident, the worker has returned to his usual full-time duties.

When the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted their investigation, they determined that the sleeper beams had not been adequately anchored in a way that would prevent movement, which is a violation of OHS Regulation 213/91, which states that “every part of a project, including a temporary structure, shall be adequately braced to prevent any movement that may affect its stability or cause its failure or collapse.”

Justice of the Peace Karen Walker ruled that Welded Tube failed as a constructor to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to the OHS Act. In addition to the $50,000 fine that was imposed, a  25-per-cent victim fine surcharge was imposed, as  required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means the total hit to the company’s bottom line was $62,500, just because workers didn’t stabilize the structure, as required by law. This is another incident demonstrating the importance of a workplace safety culture. If workers had taken an extra moment to make sure the structure was stable, they would have prevented a worker injury and saved the company a lot of money.

OHS Charges Dismissed Against Company

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

legal law justiceA court in Saskatchewan recently let an employer, Saskatchewan Power Corporation, off the hook when it came to violations of occupational health and safety rules when a supervisor acts completely on their own. The decision in this case was made based on the fact that the explosion that led to a worker’s injury and to OHS charges was caused when a supervisor actually defied the employer’s instructions when he used a torch to melt an accumulation of ice in a culvert.

The investigation into the incident discovered that, prior to the accident, there had been a production meeting, during which the supervisor raised the issue of the ice accumulation and openly worried that water might flow over the road in a way that could block access to  a cooling tower at a Saskatchewan Power electrical generating plant. However, during that meeting, the supervisor was told by the production manager to allow the ice to melt on its own. The manager also noted that in the six years he had been there, the road had never washed out.

Despite those orders, however, the supervisor decided to employ a “tiger torch” in an attempt to melt the ice. When the flame of the torch went out, gas accumulated in the culvert, so that, when the supervisor told another worker to relight the torch, there was an explosion, which resulting in that worker being seriously burned on his face, hands and arms.

After the accident, Saskatchewan Power was charged with four violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding inadequate training. The court, however, disagreed, noting that the company had sent the supervisor to a  four-day “supervisory essentials” course and that the injured worker had been trained sufficiently to avoid such an accident. But the court went further, noting that the employer had told the supervisor to not try to melt the ice in the culvert, which meant the employer was essentially off the hook for the OHS violations and the charges were dismissed. According to the court, the employer can’t be held responsible when a supervisor does something that the employer couldn’t possibly have foreseen.


Ontario MoL Issues Orders to Roofer

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Fall ArrestAfter a recent accident in which a worker fell while working on a roofing project in Windsor, that worker’s employer, Rauth Roofing Limited, has been issued several orders by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The accident happened while the company was doing flat roofing work at a two-storey GoodLife Fitness location on the morning of July 15, although the incident was not reported publicly until late last week. According to reports, the worker apparently fell through an opening in the roof to the floor below. Emergency services were contacted immediately and the worker was transported to hospital. The Ministry was notified of the accident that day and immediately launched an investigation. To date, the MoL has not identified the worker who was injured or described his condition, although several reports have said he is a 53-year-old male.

Last week, the MOL issued five orders and two requirements to Rauth Roofing related to the accident. Among them included orders requiring the company to install an adequate floor cover, as well as to install adequate guardrails. They were also ordered to secure an access ladder at the top and the bottom and they were ordered to install bump lines. The agency also ordered the company to select a health and safety representative for the project and they issued two requirement orders to place portions of the accident scene on hold and to hold onto certain pertinent documentation.

According to the Ministry’s statement on the accident, the requirement orders have been complied with and their investigation is ongoing. No one has been able to confirm whether or not the accident  victim had been using fall protection equipment at the time of the accident, but according to Ontario OHS rules, workers are required to use it anytime they are at risk of a fall of at least three metres.