Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

Ontario Ministry of Labour Creates New Advisory Group

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Construction safetyThe Ontario Ministry of Labour recently established an advisory group to assist them with the development and implementation of a Construction Health and Safety Action Plan. The need for such an Action Plan was set out as part of 2014-15 mandate letter,  and it is hoped that such a plan will do a lot to reduce the number of injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the province’s construction sector.

The advisory group includes four employer representatives, coming from various sectors, including large construction, residential building and home renovation sectors, as well as four labour representatives from a broad range of construction sectors, including operators and trades. The group will work with Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer to provide strategic advice to government on how to best implement the action plan.

The overall goal of the advisory group will be to enhance the overall commitment to health and safety at construction sites as well as to improve training for workers in that sector and create greater health and safety awareness among young workers in the sector. They also hope to make sure all laws and regulations are better understood by all players in the construction sector, from executives all the way down to the newest workers.

The Ministry of Labour hopes that the advisory group’s work will build on actions they’ve already undertaken to improve safety at construction sites. And all of this is part of the Ontario government’s economic plan, which includes one of the largest infrastructure investments in provincial history. Over the last 12 years, the number of workplace injuries in Ontario have dropped by about 40 per cent, and they want that to continue, even in the construction industry.

Supermarket Fined $140k in Worker Forklift Fatality

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

ForkliftA tragic and grisly forklift accident that occurred on October 5, 2013 has cost 1039145 Ontario Inc., operating as Tuong Phat Supermarket in North York, $140,000, precisely because they did little to nothing to keep a worker safe.

The day of the accident, a worker who had been hired just the day before was operating a forklift truck at the market on Finch Avenue West in Toronto. A supervisor had assigned the worker with using a “stacker,” or walk-behind lift truck, to stack fruit in the fruit department, which included moving the fruit from the basement to the main floor through a rectangular opening in the loading area of the main floor. Unfortunately, the worker had not been trained to use the stacker.

According to video footage, the worker would load products onto the forks of the stacker, manually position it into place, and then raising or lowering the forks to move products through the opening. He did this all day, until one time, when the stacker forks were raised through the opening before the stacker tipped over backwards onto the worker, crushing him. He died later that day.

To make matters worse, Tuong Phat Supermarket failed to notify the Ministry of Labour of the workplace injury; the Ministry only found out when the Toronto Police Service notified them the next day.

The Ministry of Labour investigated the accident, and they concluded that one reason the lift truck tipped over was because it was not equipped with the specified battery weight, which would have acted as a counterbalance to the load’s weight and would have made the forklift more stable. They also noted that the lighting at the accident location was well below recommended levels for warehousing tasks, and that the insufficient lighting may have adversely affected the ability of the worker to see the fork tips. It was also determined that the worker had no occupational safety training, nor had he received training on properly using the forklift.

After the company pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the stacker was only operated by a competent person, they were hit with a $140,000 fine by Justice of the Peace Mindy Avrich-Skapinker in Old City Hall court in Toronto.  In addition, the required 25 per cent victim fine surcharge for the Provincial Offences Act was added, bringing the total amount Tuong Phat Supermarket will have to make to recover for not training their worker and not making sure the machine he was using was maintained and the workplace was safely lit to $175,000. How much would it have cost to train him and make sure his equipment worked?

Crane Company, Owner Fined for Obstructing a MoL Investigation

Monday, May 18th, 2015


After a fire at a Kingston, Ontario construction site led to a crane operator being rescued via military helicopter on December 17, 2013, the worker’s employer and the owner of the company have been found guilty and will now have to pay a significant fine for attempting to obstruct the investigation.

The incident happened at the site of a residential construction project on Princess Street in Kingston. The crane operator was working for Waterdown-based A & A Crane Inc., which is owned by Aram Malek of Hamilton.

When the construction project caught fire, the crane operator was forced to leave the cab in order to escape the flames and scoot out onto the 65-metre-long crane boom as it hung approximately 100 metres above the ground below. Canadian Forces Base Trenton sent a military helicopter to the scene, and they were able to conduct an aerial rescue of the crane operator, who was subsequently hospitalized with serious burns.

A couple days after the rescue, an inspector with the Ontario Ministry of Labour contacted Malek to request records, including proof of employment, a copy of the contract between A & A Crane and the constructor and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) forms. The company provided some of the information, but not everything. Another inspector tried to arrange an interview with Malek but couldn’t reach him by telephone or at home. At trial, the inspectors testified that the lack of response from Malek made it impossible to continue their investigation of A & A Crane, because the information they wanted was necessary.

After the trial, Justice of the Peace Paul A. Welsh found Malek guilty of two counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including knowingly furnishing an inspector with false information or neglecting or refusing to furnish information required by an inspector, and for his failure to furnish all necessary means in the person’s power to facilitate any entry, search, inspection, investigation, examination, testing or inquiry by an inspector.

For those two charges, Malek was personally fined a total of $19,000. That fine was actually more than twice the fine assessed to the company for its failure to comply with a requirement of an inspector. For that charge, A & A Crane was fined $8,000. In addition to the fines, the court also added the required 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

If nothing else, this case should illustrate the fact that stalling or refusing to comply with a Ministry of Labour  or interfering with a Ministry investigation will cost you a lot more in the long run. Once they get everything they need, they could still fine the company a lot more, so stalling doesn’t work.

Ministry of Labour Funds Innovative OHS Projects

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

canadian moneyThe Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced the first grants to be awarded under its Occupational Health and Safety Prevention and Innovation Program. Under that program, the province hopes to fund programs and initiatives designed to prevent workplace injuries and improve overall occupational health and safety in provincial workplaces.

The new program is aligned with Ontario’s Integrated Health and Safety Strategy, and the funding is directed at workplaces with a significant need to improve health and safety outcomes. Since the program launched in September 2014 with an open call for initiatives, the Ministry received 85 applications for funding.  After a thorough three-step review process, they chose 12 applicants to receive support for innovative OH&S initiatives. Among them include:

  • Minerva Canada Safety Management Education Inc. received funding for their project, which hopes to encourage more colleges and universities to incorporate health and safety education into their core curricula.
  • Our Youth at Work Association received a grant for their Safety Momentum for Vulnerable Workers initiative, which will use seminars and presentations to ensure that young workers better understand the importance of occupational health and safety.
  • The Thunder Bay Economic Development Commission received funding for a project to help employers in the Thunder Bay area to better understand their role they play in health and safety and to help them create and implement occupational health and safety programs.
  • Career Education Council Guelph Wellington Dufferin were awarded funding for an awareness and training program to create awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety in the workplace among youth, teachers, parents and families, including the development of a new safety app for students to use on their phones.
  • The Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support received funding for their Threads of Life project, which provides support to families dealing with a life altering workplace injury, disease or fatality.
  • Community Living Prince Edward received funding to support a program to provide Musculoskeletal Disorder Injury Prevention Training for Developmental Service Workers, which will deal with the lifting hazardfor aging, part-time and new employees.
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety received funding for an inquiry service, in which anyone in Ontario will have the ability to ask questions and receive accurate and reliable information regarding occupational health and safety.

Making Atlantic Canada’s Construction Industry Safer

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Training Equivalency AgreementIn an attempt to make the industry more competitive in their region and to aid in making workers more mobile and flexible, a number of construction safety experts and associations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have worked to create a Training Equivalency Agreement.

There are two parts to the agreement. The main part is to make training standards universal throughout all three provinces. What that means is, a worker trained in New Brunswick won’t have to be retrained to be able to take a job in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador and vice-versa. That has been a problem for workers and employers in all three provinces for years, and setting up equivalent training everywhere will allow workers to go where the work is and it will save employers a lot of money and time in the long run.

The second part of the agreement will require the development of occupational health and safety training that will take into account the differences between the provinces, and make sure everyone meets or exceeds provincial training standards for all three.

The feeling is that with the Training Equivalency Agreement in place, not only will workers have more opportunities for employment, but it will allow companies to expend and create more of a regional presence, not blocked by the fact that their workers lack the safety training necessary for the other Atlantic Canada provinces.

BC Remembers Workers with Ceremonies

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

hardhat boots3On April 28, thousands of workers, employers, unions and their families gathered throughout British Columbia, across Canada and in a number of countries around the world to remember workers who lost their lives on the job in commemorative ceremonies. In Vancouver, the ceremony was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre’s Jack Poole Plaza, and was hosted jointly WorkSafeBC, the BC Federation of Labour and the Business Council of British Columbia. It featured a lighting of the Olympic cauldron, and there were a number of featured speakers, including some who were personally touched by workplace tragedy.

The province lost 173 workers last year. A little more than half, or 98, of those workers died from occupational diseases, including asbestos exposure, often contracted years ago. In addition, 50 died in incidents at provincial workplaces, and another 25 died in work-related motor vehicle crashes. Not surprisingly, the work-related deaths mostly took place in certain industries, including; construction, which saw 44 deaths, manufacturing, with 35; primary resources sectors, which saw 23, and transportation-related industries, which saw 22 deaths. Tragically, four young workers under the age of 24 lost their lives on the job.

The numbers won’t be considered good enough until they are at zero, but with greater enforcement has come fewer deaths in many ways. While the number of occupational disease deaths has increased by 42 percent since 1990, mostly because asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, over the same period the overall number of work-related deaths has decreased by the same 42 percent.

The first national Day of Mourning ceremony was held on April 28,1984, with Canada being the first nation to formally remember workers killed on the job. These days, the Day of Mourning is observed throughout the world.

Young Workers Inspection Blitz, Now Through August

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

health & safety OntarioAs part of its ongoing enforcement activities and initiatives, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) conducts a number of Inspection Blitzes all year long, each focusing on a specific industry, sector or group. These blitzes feature unannounced visits to various workplaces, including construction sites, warehouses, factories, and even retail stores and offices, so that inspectors can examine the workplace to make sure they are in compliance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act and its regulations. There is a standard of zero-tolerance for these Blitzes, which means, if deficiencies are identified, they will issue orders or lay charges against the employer.

Last year, between May and August 2014 the Ministry conducted such an Inspection Blitz in a number of industrial sectors,  including service, manufacturing, hospitality, transportation, logging and landscaping, among several others. During last year’s blitz, more than 2,500 surprise visits were made to more than 2,000 workplaces, and the MOL issued more than 7,900 orders. The most commonly cited violations were for; failing to address workplace violence by making an assessment and instituting a workplace violence and harassment policy; failing to make a copy of the OHS available to workers; failure to maintain equipment properly and in good condition and; failure to conduct mandatory basic safety awareness training.

The MOL has announced that it is conducting another New and Young Worker Blitz, starting this month and running through  August. In order to prepare for this enforcement blitz successfully, employers and supervisors should make sure every worker, especially the new and younger ones, have been given Occupational Health & Safety awareness training, and that the OHS safety information they are given is up-to-date, and that all workers are aware of it and following it.

In addition, employers should be sure that all necessary equipment, materials and protective devices have been provided to all workers, that they have been properly maintained in good condition, and that they are being used as required by law. Be sure that all hazards are identified and that workers and supervisors are aware of them. They will also enforce any minimum-age requirements for jobs and equipment, so be aware of that, as well.

Keep in mind, while MOL inspectors will be looking closely at the conditions for new and young workers during this Blitz, they will be looking at everything, and the zero-tolerance policy extends to all violations, not just those having to do with new and young workers.

Cement Company Fined $75k for Worker Trapped in Hopper

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Worker Trapped in HopperAn Ontario cement manufacturer, St. Marys Cement, pleaded guilty last week to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and was fined $75,000 for a terrible incident in which a worker suffered a leg injury after becoming trapped in a sand and gravel hopper.

The accident occurred on July 19, 2013, as a worker at the company’s aggregate pit in Sunderland tried to remove some oversized gravel that had become lodged in the lower section of an 80-ton capacity hopper and was blocking it. After he unsuccessfully tried to use a pry bar to clear the blockage from outside the hopper, he next climbed into the bucket of an excavator and was lowered into the hopper.

At that point, the conveyor belt below the hopper, which was being used to take material away from the area, was shut off, but then the the worker climbed out of the bucket and stood on top of the gravel that had been blocking the hopper. He managed to poke a hole in the blockage, thus allowing some of the gravel to fall through, filling up the belt, at which point, other workers were instructed to re-start the conveyor.

When the conveyor started, the movement released the blockage, causing the sand and gravel to flow out of the hopper along with the worker’s body, which became trapped in the hopper. Workers were then instructed to stop the conveyor belt, at which point, the worker was extricated and taken to hospital.

After an Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation, they found that the employer had failed to ensure that, before a worker entered into any silo, bin, hopper or other container or structure containing bulk material, all further supply of material thereto was stopped and any removal of material therefrom prevented, as is required by OHSA, Section 25(1)(c).

St. Marys Cement pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace, and the court fined the company $75,000, to which the court also added a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

Watching a worker climb into the hopper and fall through was obviously preventable, and now the employer is out a total of $93,750. Another example in which keeping workers safe saves companies a lot more than it costs.

Edmonton City Truck Driver Injured When Load Buries Him

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Truck Driver InjuredA 37-year-old truck driver with the City of Edmonton was transported to Royal Alexandra Hospital in critical condition last Wednesday evening, after he was buried under the contents of a dump truck that was filled with gravel, sand, dirt and debris.

According to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, the incident happened at the city’s northeast roadway maintenance yard at about 10:30 p.m. The driver was attempting to unload his truck, but the back gate would not open, so he went to the back of the tilted truck bed to check on it.

Based on the report filed by Edmonton Police, who responded to the yard about 10:45 p.m., a pin became stuck in the truck’s tailgate, which prevented the contents from pouring out. When the driver was attempting to fix the pin, the gate apparently suddenly opened and the contents, which was dirt and debris collected during a shift of cleaning city streets, unloaded on top of him.

The driver was found by a supervisor, who called paramedics and police. Minutes after that, several co-workers helped to dig the man out by hand.

The worker who was injured had been working inEdmonton roadway maintenance for about five years at the time of the accident. Alberta Occupational Health and Safety issued a stop-use order and continues to investigate.

Vale Loses Appeal to Ontario Labour Board Ruling

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Vale Loses AppealVale Canada Ltd has lost a court appeal of an Ontario Ministry of Labour order to perform daily inspections of cage dogs, a backup safety mechanism on mine shaft elevators which are intended t0 stop an elevator that was free-falling due to a malfunction. The company maintained that performing inspections once per week was sufficient, but the Ministry disagreed and ordered daily inspections.

The Ontario Labour Board, in a decision released April 10, ruled that inspections of the safety catches, which is performed in a process called “chairing the cage,” must be done daily. That procedure mimics what happens when the elevator, also called the “cage” fails. When that happens, the claw-like “dogs” on top begin to spin, cutting into the shaft’s wooden timbers and slowing and stopping the cage’s free-fall.

The problem comes because the “dogs” can eventually erode, or they can be broken or compromised by falling debris, which could prevent them from spinning or attaching to the wooden timbers. According to Vale, because their cages are equipped with a “boot” that catches debris and prevents it from falling into the dogs, making weekly inspections was sufficient. Their maintenance supervisor also testified at the hearing that a weekly visual inspection of the dogs and other parts was enough to detect corrosion or obstruction. The company said it took two employees 10-15 minutes a day to conduct the daily inspections and was ultimately unnecessary.

However, others testified that many other companies were able to “chair” or inspect the cages in less than five minutes. They also noted that, while the boot in place at the Vale mine reduced the risk of debris falling into the dogs, it didn’t eliminate it.

In their ruling, the Labour Board said that, even if the daily inspections actually took 10-15 minutes each, the Occupational Health and Safety Act “requires these safety catches to be examined for any defects on a daily basis.” They rejected Vale’s argument that the OHSA didn’t require daily inspections, as well as their assertion that the inspections were an unnecessary delay that didn’t improve safety. They ordered Vale to continue the daily inspections, as they had been doing during the appeals process, anyway.