Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

Poll: Young Workers Afraid to Ask for Help

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Social MediaA Canadian national charity, Parachute, has launched a new initiative in Ontario that it calls #Safe4Life. Put simply, this is a province-wide social media campaign with a goal of educating young workers on workplace safety and giving them a safe place to discuss concerns they may have about workplace safety.

Part of the reason for the initiative is statistics showing that new and young workers are three times more likely to be injured in Ontario. That reason is reflected in Parachute’s recent poll of  500 young workers aged 16-19, which found that nearly half would be too embarrassed to begin a job and ask their employer, a supervisor or even a co-worker, about workplace safety hazards, for fear of looking bad. The poll also found that about one in four of them claim they don’t understand the concept of worker rights, even the most basic right, to refuse unsafe work.

There is other disturbing information in the poll, not the least of which is that more than half of those who either work now or have worked before responded to the poll by saying that about half had not been supplied with proper safety equipment at least once and that only 35% of those who were properly equipped had been trained in using it.

It is estimated that, in Ontario alone, an average of 20 workers per day who are under the age of 25 are injured seriously enough to lose time from work. The overall goal of #Safe4Life is to change that equation for the future. The initiative offers a virtual space where any young worker can ask questions and openly discuss their workplace safety experiences.

WorkSafeBC Blames Film Company for Injury

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

film crewAccording to WorkSafeBC,  a film production company failed in its mission to ensure the safety of all workers on the set of the 20th Century Fox  film, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” in March, when an accident left actor Dylan O’Brien injured.

The incident they point to happened on March 17, 2016, after the production company made a change in an action scene in the film. After the changes were made, O’Brien was struck by one of the vehicles and injured. Immediately after the accident, O’Brien was transported to hospital in Vancouver and the film’s director, Wes Ball, shut down filming while he recovered. As of now, it is unclear if the filming has resumed.

In the Employer Incident Investigation Report filed with WorkSafeBC by Fox U.S. Productions 49 Inc., the company says the scene was rehearsed before the accident and a safety meeting was held. The report also described the scene as involving a trailing and leading vehicle, but that the scene had changed to something far more complex that increased the risk of injury.

While the company maintained that all precautions had been taken and that there had been plenty of rehearsal, it was then that O’Brien was hit by one of the vehicles and was seriously injured. The nature of the injuries was redacted from the report. WorkSafeBC wasn’t convinced of the company’s level of preparation and suggested that the preparations failed. As a result, they have ordered the company to prepare a notice-of-compliance report, due this week.

New Noise Regulations for Ontario

Monday, June 20th, 2016

New Noise RegulationsThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is reminding all employers that a new noise regulation that was approved last December, will take effect on July 1, 2016. The new regulation, which falls under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act as Ont. Reg. 381/15, has been designed to offer greater protection from hearing loss for more workers in more industries.

According to the Ministry of Labour, noise-induced hearing loss is “a leading cause of occupational disease for Ontario workers.” The new regulation applies to many more types of workplaces than the regulations they replace. In addition to industrial establishments, mines, and manufacturing plants, the new rules provide for specific noise protection requirements to many other workplaces, especially construction sites.

The new rules limit worker exposure to noise to a maximum average time-weighted exposure limit of 85 decibels for each eight-hour shift. They also require employers to either implement new measures or to enhance existing measures with a goal of reducing workers’ exposure to noise.  Employers will also have to consider engineering controls to reduce noise at its source or along the path of transmission wherever such a thing is possible, and when it’s not possible, they will have to schedule work activities to limit exposure. In addition, they’ll be required to provide personal hearing protection devices when necessary.

The Ministry’s current guidelines instruct employers with regard to how they can make a basic assessment of noise level exposure by listening to other’s speak. If someone has to shout at someone one metre away in order to be heard, it is likely the noise level is in excess of 85 decibels. However, even if workers are exposed to noise levels that are slightly below that level, employers should be aware that some noise control measures may still be required since maximum exposure levels are based on a worker’s cumulative exposure to noise throughout the work day.

Since the new regulations take effect July 1, it’s probably a good time for Ontario employers to consider having a notice level assessment done, to ensure that each workplace is in compliance with the new regulations.

Ontario Contractor Fined for Worker Fall

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 6.24.47 PM (2)A Hamilton, Ontario-based home builder, Multi-Area Developments Inc., pleaded guilty this past week and received a fine of $55,000 for an incident in which a construction worker was injured when he fell through an opening and was injured.

The opening was on the ground floor of a building as part of a 94-home project called Summit Park. The accident happened on August 13, 2013, while a worker who had been hired by a subcontractor and another worker were doing framing work, installing sheeting on the ground-level floor joists. Several sheets had already been installed, with an opening needed to accommodate a staircase that had not yet been installed. The worker fell into the opening and landed in the basement, which was about nine feet below the sheeting. The worker was injured in the fall.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted an inspection and found that neither of the workers who were putting the sheeting in place was wearing fall protection, which meant they were exposed to falling into the basement. In addition, there were no guardrails in place to protect the workers from the opening. Both of these issues were in violation of Section 26.1 of Ontario’s Construction Projects Regulation, which states that a worker who is exposed to falling through an opening in a work surface must be adequately protected by a guardrail system or by a method of fall protection.

Last Tuesday, Multi-Area Developments Inc. pleaded guilty to the violation and they were subsequently fined $55,000 by Justice of the Peace Mitchell H. Baker in Hamilton court. In addition, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means they are down a total of $68,750 simply because they didn’t take basic precautions. Guardrails or fall protection are a necessity to protect workers under OHS. Not following the rules can cost your company.

How Truck Drivers Can Avoid Falls

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Often, when we think of falls from height, we imagine a worker at a construction site falling from an upper floor or from a scaffold or a large machine. However, according to WorkSafeBC, it’s not just the construction industry that has to worry about fall safety. It turns out that falls from height are also a leading cause of injury for commercial truck drivers.

It is just a fact of life that that jumping from a number of areas of the truck, including the cab, the top step, the fifth-wheel area, or the trailer deck can create a serious risk of injury in part because the landing impacts the joints, lower back, and lower limbs. Jumping from the cab of a tractor can create an impact of 5 to 7 times your body weight.  And that’s if you land well. When jumping from that height, the risk of injury from a slip, trip or fall is also much greater. The risk of injury is also increased if your footwear doesn’t grip properly or if the ground is uneven or slippery because of water, ice or oil.

The best way to prevent these injuries, according to WorkSafeBC, is to always maintain three points of contact, which means keeping two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the vehicle every time you get in and out of your truck. Only break that contact when you are safely on the ground or other surface and you are steady.

As usual, they have some other safety tips to prevent fall injuries on trucks.  Here are some of them:

  • The first time you drive a particular truck, spend some time learning the placement of the handholds, steps, and handrails.
  • Before exiting your truck, apply the handbrake, turn off the engine and remove the keys.
  • Always wear proper footwear with good support and slip-resistant soles.
  • Make sure your clothing isn’t loose or torn and wear a high-visibility safety vest.
  • Pay close attention to the condition of the steps and ground below the cab to see if there is something to account for, like ice, or grease or an uneven surface.
  • Avoid using the door frame as a handhold or the wheel hubs or tires as a step.
  • Climb down slowly and avoid sudden movements that make it difficult to balance.

Employers should be aware that they are required to provide workers with copies of safe work practices or to post them in a workplace. Workers should review them whenever their job changes or they start driving a new truck or anytime they have returned to work after a long absence. Safe work practices should also be modified as necessary after every inspection or an incident investigation.

Alberta Workplace Safety Grants Awarded

Friday, June 10th, 2016

moneyThrough Alberta Labour’s Innovation and Engagement Grants  program, 20 organizations received funding in 2015-16, for projects and programs that were designed to improve occupational health and safety (OHS) awareness and education. The agency sees the development of greater OHS training programs as a priority going forward in the province, and they feel the best way to encourage that is through support.

For the 2015-16 period, the program gave out about $500,000 in grants, including four Capacity Building grants, 10 Action grants, and six Momentum grants. The money will pay for a number of projects, including theatre productions to educate students on workplace safety, at least one online occupational therapy course designed to specifically address the issue of workplace violence and harassment, as well as a number of safety conferences administered by several organizations.

There are three levels of funding available under this grant program, including:

  • Capacity Building grants, up to $10,000
  • Action grants, up to $20,000
  • Momentum grants, up to $50,000

In addition to these grants, Alberta Labour also provides nearly $1 million to organizations who conduct research into methods and best practices for preventing workplace injuries, illness, and disease. They feel that these types of programs further their goal of reducing or eliminating workplace injuries throughout the province.



WorkSafeBC Lists Top Dangers to Young Workers

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

young workerWorkSafeBC has listed the most common tasks that cause young workers to get hurt. These tend to be common tasks for young workers and they are present in a great many occupations and industries.  While employers should be aware of the hazards inherent in any workplace tasks performed by young workers, perhaps they should take extra care with these.

Lifting objects

This danger is present in nearly all workplaces, on some level. Lifting injuries account for roughly 950 claims per year for young workers, with most sustained in the shipping and receiving industries, the retail industry and just about any industry in which lifting large objects, such as boxes, crates, bags, buckets, pallets, lumber, and structural metal materials is a major part of the job.

Working at Height

Any young worker who works on projects that involve heights are at risk of falls and any fall can cause serious injury of many types. While sprains and strains, torn muscles and ligaments are common, one in every seven injuries from height are bone fractures. Some falls cause brain injury or death. They can be injured when falling from a static object, but they are often injured when they jump from one level to another. Young workers should always wear fall protection and they should receive thorough training when working on ladders or from stairs, scaffolds or platforms. Injuries related to height result in about 900 claims per year and the injuries can have a profound impact on workers, sometimes requiring long hospitalization or rehabilitation.

Working with Knives and Slicers

Sometimes a knife slips or is mishandled, resulting in serious cuts or lacerations, but using machines with blades or sharp objects also results in a great many injuries. Young workers who work in supermarkets and restaurants are particularly at risk for these types of injuries. Using knives results in about 525 young worker claims every year. Most injuries are cuts that heal, but one in every 130 result in the amputation of a finger. Injuries caused by food slicers alone result in 150 claims per year. While 80 per cent of the injuries are simple lacerations, one in 80 results in the loss of a finger.

Working with Hot Substances and Objects

These types of injuries are all too common for young workers who work as cooks, waiters, and food preparers, who are always at serious risk of burns and scalds, either from hot food, fats, oils or other liquids or from hot pots, pans or trays.  The severity of the burns varies widely, with one out of every 40 claims being a third-degree burn. Injuries from hot substances result in around 350 claims per year and they often result in hospitalization and cosmetic surgery.

Operating Mobile Equipment or Motor Vehicles

Young workers in any industry may be asked to work with mobile equipment or motor vehicles, which can create a serious risk of injury. Many of the 250 claims from young workers every year come  due to young workers acting as truck drivers, couriers, and material handlers. The injuries range in severity from minor scrapes to broken bones or worse. Many motor vehicle accidents involve truck drivers, couriers, delivery drivers, and material handlers. Injuries range in severity from minor sprains, strains, and tears to multiple fractures or even death. One in 10 claims is a fracture. These serious injuries can have a profound impact on the worker, sometimes requiring hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Working Around Running Machinery and Equipment

In a number of industries that employs machinery and conveyors, especially the construction and manufacturing industries, young workers are at significant risk of serious injury if they as a result of getting “caught in” running equipment or machinery.  A number of possible injuries are possible, but lacerations and fractures are most common, with one out of every eight injuries resulting in amputation. In all, these types of injuries result in 125 claims each year.


Ontario Enforces Fall Safety

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Fall SafetyFrom now through July 15, 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will be targeting fall hazards in workplaces all over Ontario. While they will target a number of industries, there is a special emphasis on the construction, industrial and mining sectors.  Employers in all industry sectors should be prepared for this safety blitz, but all industries should be especially aware.

The Ministry is conducting this blitz in part because falls are among the leading causes of workplace injuries and deaths throughout Ontario. Because of this, inspectors will pay close attention to ensuring that all employers are assessing and properly addressing fall hazards that are present at each workplace. In particular, they will be looking to make sure that all workplaces have:

  • Implemented policies, programs and safe work practices designed to protect workers from falls;
  • Properly assessed ladders, mobile stands and platforms and that all hazards have been identified;
  • Maintained equipment properly and placed it on firm footing while it is in use;
  • Installed safety barriers where needed;
  • Provided workers with and trained them on the use of appropriate fall protection systems, personal protective equipment and other safety devices whenever they are working at heights;
  • Ensure that workers who are working on truck beds, trailers or the top of loads are doing so safely.

Falls are the number one cause of  critical injuries and death in the construction industry in Ontario. Last year alone, 10 Ontario workers died in falls at construction projects. In addition, there were eight workplace deaths from falls in industrial workplaces.



Edmonton HVAC Worker Injured

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

hardhat bootsA 52-year-old worker for Silent Aire Manufacturing, a prominent  Edmonton HVAC company, was seriously injured as he worked with a work crew on the morning of May 16. The group of workers he was working with was preparing to move an air-conditioning system from an assembly line that day, at about 11:30 a.m. For some reason, as they were moving the nearly one-tonne HVAC system, it fell over onto the worker, pinning him from the midsection down.

The worker was immediately transported to hospital, where he had to undergo surgery and was recovering more than a week later. No other details about his condition were available.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety did not immediately issue any orders, but they are conducting a thorough investigation, with which Silent Aire is promising to cooperate with fully. In a press release, company officials said that they were also in the process of conducting their own investigation into the incident, but they noted that their internal company policy prevented them from discussing anything further until all investigations are complete.

In business for more than 20 years, Silent Aire Manufacturing is a private, family-owned company that provides HVAC systems for very specific markets, including the health care and the data centre markets. They have provided HVAC systems for a wide range of companies, including some large ones, such as Dell, Amazon, Dow Chemical and Shell. When this investigation is complete, it will likely cost them a lot more than just money.

Ontario Acts to Protect Young Workers

Monday, May 30th, 2016

young workerJust in time for young people all over Ontario to look for summer jobs, the Ontario Ministry of Labour has launched several new initiatives that they hope will protect them, especially when it comes to those working in seasonal, part-time or temporary jobs. This is because statistics show that new workers, whether they are young or not, are up to three times as likely to be injured in their first month on the job as any other time in their career. In addition, they are more likely to experience violations of their rights and workplace standards.

All summer, the Ministry of Labour will engage in two inspection blitzes that will be focused on protecting young workers. They also plan to promote a province-wide online video contest entitled “It’s Your Job,” that they hope will encourage young workers to speak out about making sure their workplace rights are protected. In addition to that campaign, they will support “Bring Safety Home,” which is a Workplace Safety & Prevention Services campaign to better instruct parents of young workers how to help them protect their right to a safe workplace.

The Ministry of Labour notes that, on average, every day more than 17 young workers in Ontario suffer workplace injuries serious enough to need time off work. In addition, between 2010 and 2015, there were 17 young worker fatalities.

This will be the ninth year in a row that the Ontario Ministry of Labour has conducted a new and young worker health and safety blitz. Also, they note that the province is one of the few places in the world that requires occupational health and safety education in schools.