Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

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.

Project Manager Found Guilty in Scaffolding Deaths

Monday, June 29th, 2015

JusticeIn the wake of a Christmas Eve tragedy in Toronto in which four workers were killed and another sustained serious injuries after a scaffold collapsed and sent them plummeting 30 metres to the ground, the project manager who sent the work crew 13 storeys high without making sure they were properly secured was convicted of criminal negligence Friday.

The project manager, Vadim Kazenelson, was found guilty of five counts total, including four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In his judgment, Ontario Superior Court Judge Ian MacDonnell said Kazenelson was aware that proper fall protections were not in place, but despite that, he allowed the workers to get on the swing stage. Inhe nevertheless allowed his workers to board the swing stage. He cited the manager’s “wanton and reckless disregard” by failing to act to rectify an obviously hazardous situation and by allowing the weight of six workers and their tools on the swing stage.

On the day of the accident, the crew was in the process of repairing a number of concrete balconies on an apartment building when the swing stage split in two as it hung outside a balcony on the 13th floor. That sent five workers — Alesandrs Bondarevs, Aleksey Blumberg, Vladamir Korostin, Dilshod Marupov and foreman Fayzullo Fazilov — 30 metres to the ground. All but Marupov died, and he suffered fractures to his spine and ribs. The workers ranged in age from 21 to 40 years old and were from Latvia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. A sixth worker — the only one who was properly secured to a safety lifeline, survived because he was  suspended in mid-air. That worker, whose name was Shohruh Tojiddinov, testified during the trial that Kazenelson didn’t insist that all workers on the crew attach themselves to lifelines.

The construction company involved in the case, Metron Construction Corp., previously pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal negligence causing death and was fined $750,000 back in September 2013, while the company that supplied the swing stage, Ottawa-based Swing N Scaff Inc., was also fined $350,000 for their failure to ensure that the platform was in good condition. Both fines were accompanies by a 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That’s a lot more money altogether than the cost of providing lifelines to five workers.

Kazenelson will next appear in court Oct. 16, at which time Judge MacDonnell will begin the process of sentencing.

Young Worker Falls Six Metres in Newfoundland

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

OSHA Fall Safety Stand-DownThe small community of Trepassey, which is located on the southern shore of Newfoundland on the east side of the province, is mourning the tragic death of a young construction worker who was the victim of a terrible workplace accident on Tuesday, June 16 at about 8:30 a.m.

The 20-year-old construction worker, later identified as CJ Curtis, who was an employee of a local contractor, Southern Construction, was helping to repair the roof of Glamox Lighting Corp. when he stepped backward onto some plastic tiles and fell through a skylight, landing on a concrete floor more than six metres below. According to witnesses, Curtis was not tethered at the time of the accident.

Curtis was airlifted to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, where he was at first listed in critical condition, but later succumbed to his injuries.

RCMP has determined there was no criminal wrongdoing; however, Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Health and Safety officials are also investigating the incident. It is not likely to go well for the company. There is simply no excuse for a worker of any age, let alone one with what was likely minimal experience, to not be wearing basic fall protection. This once again shows that almost all terrible accidents can be prevented by doing something simple, like making sure workers at heights are tethered.

Second Contractor Cited for Young Worker Fall

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Workers at heightIn the second case in which a construction company has faced charges due to the death of a young worker who was part of a crew building high-rise student housing in Waterloo, Ontario, Maison Canada Holdings last week pleaded guilty and was fined $120,000 for their part of the tragedy. They were the the constructor of the project.

The incident occurred on Oct. 11, 2013, at a job site located at 185 King Street North in Waterloo, as the young worker was assisting with the delivery of concrete blocks to the roof. He was on the 12th storey of the building at the time, when a tower crane placed a skid of 3,500-pound concrete blocks onto wood planking in the roof. The placement led the skid to rest at an angle, which created a potential hazard, so the roof workers decided to move the skid to be re-landed so it was more flat.

The load was re-strapped and lifted up and out, at which point the load suddenly slid toward an exterior parapet wall that surrounded the roof top. Unfortunately, the young worker was situated between the parapet wall and the skid of blocks, so when the skid trolleyed out and crashed through the exterior parapet wall, it knocked the young worker four storeys, or just over 13 metres to a mast climber, which is a type of powered scaffold. As a result of the fall, the worker sustained head and leg injuries and later died.

Though the young worker was trained in fall protection, he was not using any when the accident occurred, and since the parapet wall was less than two feet high, it did not constitute a guardrail. Maison Canada Holdings pleaded guilty to failing to store and move material or equipment in a manner that does not endanger a worker, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

As a result, the company was fined $120,000, which was augmented by a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a younger worker is dead and the company’s bottom line saw a $150,000 hit, just for not making sure everyone had fall protection.

Labour Minister Calls on Trucking Industry to Stress Mental Health

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Truck DriversThe Canadian  Minister of Labor Dr. Kellie Leitch, has sent a letter to a major group representing Canadian trucking companies, to ask the group to encourage more of their member motor carriers to take greater action in dealing with the issue of psychological health in the workplace.

Based on the content of the letter, it was triggered by a significant amount of data showing that a significant number of Canadian workers suffer from some form of mental illness, to the point that it affects worker safety and productivity, which can have a negative effect on everything, from workers’ safety and security to companies’ bottom lines to the country’s economy on the whole. .

The letter from the Minister included a link to tools provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) that are designed to assist employers with efforts to assess, address and mitigate mental health and safety issues in their workplaces. The materials also connect employers to mental health resources in their area that are appropriate to specific problems.

In September 2014, there was a meeting of ministers of labour at the federal and provincial levels, and they all agreed to promote the voluntary standards developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) for mental health and safety in the workplace as a best practice. As such, the Minister wrote in the letter that she encouraged all trucking companies to adopt the standard, and that such a standard could help everyone better assess and take action to prevent mental health harm to workers.

Plastics Manufacturer Hit With $80,000 Fine For Not Protecting Worker

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Molten Platic injectionA Brampton-based manufacturer of plastic automotive parts, Magna Exteriors & Interiors Corporation, has been convicted for an incident in which a worker in their plant, which uses plastic injection molding machines, suffered burns while on the job. As a result, the company was fined $80,000.

The incident that led to the conviction happened on June 25, 2012. On that day, a plant worker was attempting to troubleshoot and repair an injection molding machine that actually wasn’t injecting plastic into the mold when it was supposed to. When the worker figured out that the molten plastic had been backing up in the machine, he adjusted the temperature so as to cool the machine’s nozzle. He was then called away to repair other machines.

When he returned to the machine, he began to remove the head bolts, but instead decided to break them loose instead, using a hammer to loosen the nozzle. As he did so, the melted plastic squirted out of the machine, causing serious burns to his torso.

Investigators with the Ontario Ministry of Labour determined that, at the time of the accident, the worker wasn’t wearing a face shield, which is required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Regulation 851 governs industrial establishments and the regulation states that a worker exposed to a potential skin burn from a hot liquid or molten plastic or metal shall be protected from wearing apparel sufficient to protect them from injury.

The company was convicted of failing as an employer to ensure that all safety measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace. The fine of $80,000 was imposed by Justice of the Peace Eileen Walker, who also added a 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act, which means a total $100,000 hit to the company’s bottom line for not protecting its workers as required by law.

Power Company Fined $120,000 for Worker Death

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Electrical workersA Sarnia, Ontario area utility company, Bluewater Power Distribution Corporation, has been hit with a $120,000 fine for an accident in which a worker who was performing repair work on downed power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 died from electrocution.

The incident occurred on October 31, 2012,as two workers were clearing tree limbs and repairing electrical lines. One worked from an aerial bucket while the other worked on the ground. They started working on a downed primary neutral line. Up until then, the worker in the bucket had been doing his work using leather gauntlet gloves, and he was preparing to make the final connection by fastening the neutral end to a connector to complete the circuit path. That was when he called down to the worker on the ground to retrieve rubber gloves from the cab of their truck. While that worker was heading to the truck’s cab, the truck shook and the bucket dropped, causing it to make contact with the power line.

Immediately, the supervisor was called, as was the fire department and an ambulance. The worker in the bucket was transported to hospital, but he could not be revived. The cause of death was determined to be electrocution.

Ontario safety offiicals found that Bluewater Power had violated a number of regulations designed to keep workers safe. For example, no job plan or tailboard was in place before work had been started, even though such a plan is usually prepared by a power line technician when they arrive at the job site, in order to assess the work, and to identify potential hazards and mitigate them. In this case, investigators maintained that a sufficient job plan and tailboard conference would have addressed most of the key hazards at the site. Bluewater noted that they normally completed such plans, but in this case everyone was anxious to restore power to the community.

While both workers had more than 20 years experience each and had been sufficiently trained as to the importance of always wearing rubber gloves when working in an aerial bucket, according to investigators, the job plan and tailboard conference would have served as a reminder and may have prevented the tragedy. The worker had been wearing leather gloves, which has far less electrical resistance than rubber gloves. Moreover, the rubber gloves were also partially damp, which would have weakened their electrical resistance.

Bluewater Power Distribution Corporation pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that workers performed a documented job plan before performing work on or in proximity to energized electrical equipment as noted in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As a result, the company was fined $120,000 by Justice of the Peace Anna Hampson, who also added a 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a hit to the bottom line of $150,000, all for not making sure they took a few hours to plan electrical repairs.

Study: Supervisors Should Listen to Young Workers

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Young peopleIt’s almost that time, when teens all over Saskatchewan and elsewhere start summer jobs, to make money for themselves and their families. It’s a tradition that many parents encourage, for good reason; it prepares them for the real world, after school and childhood are finished. A new study published by the University of Regina is suggesting that the workplace your teen chooses may not be as safe as it could be, in part because supervisors often do not encourage young workers to speak up when they see something wrong.

The study suggests that even teens as young as 15 or 16 have some solid suggestions as to how workplace safety can be improved, but they don’t speak up, except under certain very specific conditions, such as when they felt an emotional attachment to the workplace. Of course, that observation throws cold water on two notions that many employers have; that inexperienced teens don’t think about how they can do a job safely, and that they’re not committed to part-time summer jobs.

Researchers found that the young workers most likely to speak up are those with a supervisor they feel cares about them and who seems genuinely interested in their ideas to promote worker safety. Not only that, but they found that young workers who felt comfortable expressing their concerns also are injured far less often than the teens who perceived their supervisor as indifferent or even somewhat hostile to their concerns.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and was funded by the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, surveyed 155 Manitoba workers between the ages of 15 and 19. Most of the teens in the survey worked in restaurants and food service operations and grocery and retail stores, but researchers believe the results can translate to many other professions as well.

And it matters, given the number of young workers who are injured in workplaces all over Canada. According to the Association of Workers Compensation Boards, in 2013 alone, more than 30,000 people between 15 and 24 were injured on the job throughout Canada, with young men at the highest risk. Researchers believe many of those injuries could have been prevented with better job training and more awareness on the part of young workers as to their right to speak up about safety.

Hotel Demolition Halted Over Worker Safety Concerns

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Stop signCity of Kitchener officials have apparently finally gotten the okay to complete the demolition of the city’s historic Mayfair Hotel, which had been held up for more than a week because of ongoing discussions between the demolition contractor and the Ontario Ministry of Labour over several issues having to do with workplace safety.

As a result of their concerns, the Ministry issued two stop-work orders on the demolition on May 22. This became something of a problem, in part because King Street West had already been closed for two weeks at the time, and the city wasn’t able to reopen the street while the work was delayed. The first stop-work order came as a result of a complaint suggesting the presence of asbestos on the property, while the second came as a result of the inspection for asbestos, when inspectors found several currently unspecified  safety hazards at the site.

Once Ministry inspectors were satisfied that asbestos had been removed and all other hazards had been addressed, they lifted the stop-work orders late Thursday afternoon, June 4.

Because of that, city officials approved the resumption of work, and announced that the demolition work should be completed by sometime this week. They also decided to open King Street West for the busy weekend, as well.