Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

Ontario Mine Cited by Ministry of Labour

Friday, July 31st, 2015

judgement Last week, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the Ontario Court of Justice and was fined $100,000 for a terrible accident in which a mine worker was injured by a haulage car.

The accident that led to the charges and the fine happened on October 13, 2013, as mine workers were using a diesel scoop tram to load haulage cars, which were operated a battery-powered locomotive on tracks at the Campbell Complex Mine, which is located near Balmertown in the Red Lake District.

As they were working, the haulage cars would exit and return to the work areas. Two of the workers were preparing large chunks of ore for a blast while a third worker was toiling next to the scoop tram. At one point, one of the workers noticed that the haulage cars were failing to stop, and he attempted to pull the worker closest to the car away from the tracks, but it was too late, and that worker was hit by the haulage car anyway and pinned against the scoop tram. As a result, he suffered numerous cuts and a broken bone.

After a thorough investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. Was charged with failing as an employer to take all precautions reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the operator of the vehicle had a clear view of the path of travel, and that it violated their mandated protection of a worker as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In court on July 22, 2015, the company pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000  by Justice of the Peace Daisy Hoppe, who also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That makes the total hit to the company’s bottom line $125,000 for not taking some simple precautions, thus once again demonstrating that workplace safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

Gravel Pit Incident Leads to WorkSafeNB Stop-Work Order

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

gravel pitLast week, WorkSafeNB issued a stop-work order to a company in northwestern New Brunswick after a tragic accident in which a worker at a worksite in Drummond, which is close to Grand Falls, was killed after a 10-metre fall into a gravel pit. The worker didn’t fall into the pit, his truck fell into it.

According to agency officials, the worker was operating a tar truck when, for some currently-unknown reason, the truck slipped off the slope of the gravel pit and fell into it, crushing the driver. The purpose of the stop-work order is to ensure that the worksite remains intact until a survey to measure the slopes of the gravel pit is conducted. They also intend to conduct tests to determine whether or not the soil-bearing capabilities of the gravel pit were sufficient to keep the driver safe.

WorkSafeNB staff is conducting a thorough investigation of every aspect of the accident, which means they will conduct interviews with the employer, workers and other potential witnesses, and conduct a thorough examination of machinery, equipment, personal protective equipment, procedures and training. The investigation will determine how the fatality happened, how or whether it could have been prevented and whether there were any violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Ontario Trenching Hazards Blitz

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

TrenchThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is in the midst of a two-month worksite enforcement blitz that is focused primarily on the hazards that are present when workers construct trenches for a number of reasons, including installation or repair of utilities or sewers.

From now through the end of August 2015, Ministry inspectors will visit a number of  construction sites throughout Ontario where trenches are being excavated as part of the project, and they will check for hazards that result in worker injuries or fatalities. By definition, an excavation is a hole in the ground that is made by removing dirt and other material, while a trench is an excavation that is deeper than it is wide.

Inspectors will examine the sites closely to make sure workers have been properly trained and supplied with the proper safety equipment, and to make sure employers are properly assessing and addressing any hazards found and are complying with Ontario’s occupational health and safety laws, especially the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

More specifically, inspectors will be paying special attention to making sure the contractor has made a trench work notification to the Ministry of Labour; that they have identified, located and marked of underground utilities before the work starts, that they have supported the wall of the trench and that appropriate measures to prevent slips, trips and falls either in or into the trench have been taken.

This increased enforcement is part the Ministry’s “Safe At Work Ontario initiative,” which the province launched in June 2008. Since then, inspectors have conducted nearly 350,000 inspections and issued more than 560,000 compliance orders. The reason for this particular blitz, the 72nd since 2008, may be that, between 2008 and 2014 excavation incidents cause 17 fatalities and 42 critical injuries.


WorkSafeBC Enforcement Focus on Asbestos in Residential Projects

Monday, July 20th, 2015

demolitionBeginning this month, prevention officers with WorkSafeBC will be conducting increased inspections of residential demolition and renovation throughout British Columbia, with the idea of paying special attention to making absolutely sure all contractors are following all health and safety laws regarding the identification and removal of asbestos from all projects.

This is a serious problem in British Columbia, as hundreds of homes are either demolished or renovated every month. Many of those homes were built before the 1980s, when asbestos was commonly used in a number of ways in most homes, including insulation, drywall, linoleum, floor tiles and even spray-on fireproofing. While asbestos is not considered a health risk when left in place undisturbed, the airborne exposures that happen during a demolition or renovation can lead to serious and eventually fatal lung diseases with symptoms that often don’t develop until many years later.

It’s a problem that plagues workers every year, primarily because it wasn’t taken seriously throughout a large portion of the 20th Century. From 2005 through 2014, 581 B.C. workers died from diseases that were related to asbestos exposures, and most of those occurred because of exposures that occurred many years before. About 77 of those deaths occurred last year alone. These days, the only possible exposure is through not following safe practices, which is why WorkSafeBC is conducting this focused examination.

In 2014, WorkSafeBC officers conducted 210 site inspections, through which they found that more than 40 percent of the hazardous material surveys conducted by contractors were inadequate, and they wrote 257 orders for hazardous materials violations and slapped contractors with 20 penalties.

Protecting Workers from Ticks

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

TickA number of occupational safety agencies, includingWorkSafeBC, are warning outdoor workers in a number of industries, including construction, landscaping, railroads, and oil and gas drilling sites, to be extremely careful about coming in contact with ticks this and every summer. They can be found in most areas of Canada and the United States, wherever there are woods and tall grass.

Ticks are very tiny insects, related to spiders, mites and scorpions, that feed on the blood of other animals, including humans, and need to feed at specific times during their development cycle, with that feeding cycle lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Ticks are usually only active between April and October, with a peak in the summer months, June through August.

There are ways to prevent tick bites, by wearing light-coloured clothing with the shirt tucked into the pants and the pants cuff tucked into socks or boot. Wearing insect repellant with at least 20-30 per cent DEET is also recommended, as is taking regular showers after working outdoors.

Ticks often carry a number of parasites, viruses and bacteria that could end up making people very ill. One of the most common diseases related to tick bites is  Lyme disease. Anyone who works outdoors where there are woods or tall grass may be exposed to tick-borne diseases through tick bites. It’s important to check for ticks regularly, and for a worker who has been bitten to make sure it is removed immediately.

To remove a tick properly, its necessary to never use the hands, but instead use a tweezers or another instrument like a forceps to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and lifting it straight off the skin without squeezing it, because squeezing can force the tick’s stomach contents to spill, increasing the risk of infection. Make sure all of the tick is removed, including any mouth parts that may have burrowed under the skin.

Once the tick has been completely removed, clean the area around the bite with strong soap and water and disinfect the wound with antiseptic cream. Then, wash your hands with soap and water. After that, watch for symptoms of infection, which can include fever, headache, muscle, joint and body aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or even what is often referred to as a “bulls-eye rash.” The sooner tick-borne infections are caught, the easier they are to treat.

Ammonia Leak Kills Fort Erie Worker

Monday, July 13th, 2015

chemicalsThe Rich Products plant in Fort Erie, Ontario suspended all production last week as the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding an ammonia leak that killed one worker and left two others hospitalized Monday, July 6.

Rich Products is based in Buffalo, New York, but they operate several dozen plants around the world, including one other plant in Canada. The Fort Erie plant employs 285 in all; 85 of them were on site at the time of the leak. There were also 10 contract workers on the site at the time, and the worker who succumbed was one of those; a contract worker for oil analysis firm WearCheck Canada.

Fire officials in Fort Erie were called out to a chemical leak that was reported at a few minutes after noon Monday. At the same time, officials at the plant, which makes frozen pizzas and bakery dough, evacuated all of the plant’s workers. Ammonia is used as part of the refrigeration process.

Unfortunately, though the Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change were called Monday, it wasn’t until Wednesday that ammonia levels dropped to a low enough level to allow anyone to enter the plant. It is unknown how long the investigation will take. So far, air and water samples are being taken to determine the leak’s impact. It is not known how long the plant will have to remain closed for the investigation, but the Niagara Regional Police did release a statement saying that the leak had been contained and there is no risk to the public.

Police noted that the two injured workers were sent to hospital with what were characterized as non-life-threatening injuries and that all others at the plant, including visitors, are safe. Some nearby homes  were evacuated for a time, while others were asked to stay inside and to close their windows and doors and to turn off their air-conditioning units. Once the leak was contained later that day, they were given the all-clear to return to their homes, or to reopen their windows, doors and to go outside.


Landscaping Company Hit with $100k Fine After a Fatal Fall

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Fall Arrest HarnessAn Ottawa landscaping and property services company, Lafleur de la Capitale Inc., has pleaded guilty to a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and been fined $100,000, for a workplace accident in which worker was killed when he fell from the ledge of a parking lot ramp at the National Gallery of Canada.

As a work crew from Lafleur was tending to the landscaping of a Gallery property on August 27, 2013, a worker was walking up the inclined entrance ramp of the underground parking facility when a car approached and the worker stepped back, causing him to fall backwards, to a lower level of the exit ramp, about 15 feet below. As a result of the injuries he incurred in the fall, the worker died at the scene.

Investigators with the Ontario Ministry of Labour learned that Lafleur de la Capitale failed to do a proper risk assessment at the worksite, which would have identified the falling hazard posed by the ramps, as well as those at the open side of the flowerbeds. If they had done the risk assessment, they could have taken measures to prevent the fall, by providing workers with fall arrest devices or a fall restraint system whenever they worked in those areas.

Lafleur de la Capitale Inc. pleaded guilty to its failure to take every reasonable precaution under the circumstances to protect a worker, which is a violation of the OHSA. Justice of the Peace Louisette Girault assessed a fine of $100,000 and also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That’s a dead worker and a $125,000 hit to the company’s bottom line for not doing a proper risk assessment and supplying workers with the essentials. More evidence that worker safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

WorkSafeBC Urging Workers to Play It Cool in the Heat

Monday, July 6th, 2015

WarningWorkSafeBC is reminding employers and workers that, while many people get to head to the beach during record-breaking heat waves like the one they’ve experienced recently, many construction crews continue working, and engaging in hard, physical work in the hot sun can be dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken.

So far this summer, according to Environment Canada, 64 temperature records have already been broken in cities and towns throughout the province, including a sweltering 40.6° C, recorded last week in Warfield, a West Kootenay community, with Osoyoos, a town several hours east of Vancouver, clocking in at 40.4°C. The heat isn’t expected to abate anytime soon, so employers, supervisors and workers need to take precautions to keep everyone safe.

WorkSafeBC often checks up on at-risk jobs sites during the hot summer months, and they have several suggestions for coping with the hot weather, starting with trying to avoid the temptation to go shirtless or wear tank tops. It seems counterintuitive, but covering yourself means less heat, not more, and the more heat, the greater the tendency to become dehydrated. And speaking of dehydration, they also recommend making sure workers have plenty of water to drink; not sugary or sweet soft drinks or tea, but plain, fresh water.

They also recommend cycling workers out of hot areas and providing shaded areas for frequent breaks. When doing a daily hazard assessment at the beginning of every workday, which all construction sites should be doing, the heat should be considered one of the key hazards. Since provincial Occupational Health and Safety Regulations require employers to conduct heat stress assessments and to develop and implement heat stress prevention plans to control exposures anyway, this should be routine on hot days.

In addition, workers should also be trained to spot the early signs and symptoms of heat stress, which can include dizziness and confusion, fatigue, fainting, headache pain and cramping, as well as nausea, vomiting, dark urine, diarrhea, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat. They should also know what to do when and if they spot it. To treat a worker with any of these symptoms, it’s necessary to get them into shade and have them drink plenty of water. If the symptoms persist for more than 15 minutes, call a doctor.

Heat stroke is far more serious; in addition to the above symptoms, it can also include dry red skin, a body temperature over 40°C, reduced blood pressure, loss of consciousness and possibly inability to sweat. Because heat stroke is potentially fatal, emergency medical personnel should be called.

It’s hot out there, and WorkSafeBC wants construction workers and employers to play it cool.

Nova Scotia Gets Creative With OHS Penalty

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Electrical_HazardA court in Nova Scotia court has approached a violation of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act with what can only be described as a “creative sentence.” In addition to paying a significant fine of $35,000, the company will also have to make 150 hours of safety presentations within a space of 18 months.

The violation happened when a journeyman electrician began work on a still-energized system and was electrocuted in the process. The company not only did nothing to make sure they complied with the Canadian Electrical Code; the court found that the company had failed to develop and implement any policies or practices to address workplace safety anywhere in the workplace. Their rationale for doing so was classic; they apparently felt that, since the worker was an experienced electrician who was very safety-oriented, there was no need.

The Nova Scotia OHSA allows the court to impose a “creative sentence option,” so after fining the company $35,000 and acknowledging that the company was extremely small, insolvent and out of business, they decided to add a community service element to the order, which required the company to make the presentations, detailing the facts of the case, including the workplace safety issues, and how they violated regulations. In all, the presentations were required to total 150 hours and be completed within 18 months.

WorkSafe Saskatchewan Campaigns for Young Worker Safety

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

young workerWorkSafe Saskatchewan is reminding employers, supervisors and workers in the province that it’s summertime, which means there are a lot more new and young workers flooding into workplaces, so they should take extra care regarding the health and safety of those workers.

Every year, about 6,000 young workers under the age of 25 are injured on the job throughout Saskatchewan each year, with the injury rate for young workers peaking in July and August. Among the most common causes cited for the increase in injuries are their lack of training and their lack of experience, of course, as well as a lack of supervision. Younger workers have a tendency to want to please their new employer, and to rush through their tasks. They tend to not understand their rights as workers. Often, young and new workers are given the same assignments as those with more seniority, which means they are more prone to injury.

As part of their campaign, WorkSafe Saskatchewan is urging supervisors to make sure to give new and young workers proper orientation, training and supervision at all points in their employment and to make sure they are open and approachable, encouraging young workers to answer questions and then answering them completely and thoroughly, because getting the right answers to a question can save an injury or even a life, according to most research.

Of the 6,000 young worker injuries that happen annually, there are 2,750 hand injuries, including cuts, burns and strikes; 1,000 back injuries, mostly due to heavy lifting, reaching or twisting, and more than 2,200 injuries to legs, arms and eyes. The construction industry is the one that sees the most young worker injuries.