Archive for the ‘Ministry of Labour’ Category

WorkSafeBC Campaign Hopes to Stop the Falls

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Stop the FallsWorkSafeBC has begun a campaign designed to reduce the number of workers who are injured due to falls from heights. According to the agency’s recently published 2013 Statistics, between 2004 and 2013, there were 22,610 serious injuries and 92 worker deaths due to falls from height, with most of those occurring within the construction industry. In fact, one out of every four claims made in the construction industry are related to falls, and they represent the most frequent and costly incidents in that particular industry.

The construction workers most commonly injured in falls from height include labourers, roofers and carpenters, with the most common falls coming from ladders or scaffolding or from a roof. The most common reasons for these falls, as cited in the statistical survey, include companies attempting to you’llsave more time and money, a lack of leadership and, of course, a lack of proper training. Other factors WorkSafeBC cites in their research include an overall failure on the part of many companies to create a culture of safety, which results in an increased risk due to peer pressure and the development of poor work habits.

The new campaign attempts to address all of the above, and includes a variety of new resources designed to increase awareness of the hazards that all workers face, and to encourage employers to create a stronger safety culture and better train workers to protect themselves. The materials include a number of hardhat stickers, posters and signage to remind both employers and workers that;

Focusing on safety won’t make your crew look down on you. Falling will. Speak up for safety.”

Runaway Truck on Set of TV Show Claims Worker

Friday, September 26th, 2014

WarningOn Monday night, September 15, a terrible accident involving a runaway truck on the set of the science fiction TV series Falling Skies, which is filmed in Burnaby, British Columbia, just outside Vancouver, claimed the life of Amrik Singh Gill, a 59-year-old security guard.

According to WorkSafeBC, the accident happened when an unattended five-ton truck that was parked on a 6% slope suddenly began to roll backward down a hill, pinning the security guard against a tree. At the time of the accident, the tailgate of the truck was down, so that workers could offload equipment in preparation for the next day’s shoot. as a result, Gill was caught between the tailgate and the tree and was seriously injured as result.

Immediately after the accident, Gill was transported to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., where they tried to save him. However, he was pronounced dead not long after arrival.

Production on the science fiction tv show was shut down for the next two days. The details of the accident are under investigation by a number of agencies, including WorkSafeBC, the BC Workers’ Compensation Board, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, all of whom are looking at, among other things, the mechanical condition of the truck caused the accident, and why the truck was unattended at the time of the accident. They will be looking closely at issues regarding supervision and training for the crew was working on the truck.

Get Ready for Ontario MOL Materials Handling Safety Blitz

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

InvestigatorThe latest inspection blitz by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) is currently underway, and you should make sure your workplace is ready for it.

The current blitz began on September 15. The focus of this one will be hazards associated with materials handling, including storage, loading and unloading, and the movement of goods throughout the workplace. Inspectors from the MOL will be making visits to a number of factories, plants and other workplaces within the industrial sector, in order to make sure that employers are taking proper precautions to make sure workers are as safe as possible while handling supplies and materials.

In particular, MOL inspectors will be taking a look at the condition of lift trucks, forklifts and other lifting devices, to make sure the machines are not carrying more than their rating allows, and to make sure that all such equipment is in good working order and well-maintained, and that operators are qualified and properly trained and supervised while operating equipment or handling materials.

Inspectors will also be taking a close look at whether or not workers are being provided with safe and secure access to work areas, including making sure that workers don’t have to take unreasonable risk to get into the workplace, and that there are no obstacles to access. They will also make sure that each workplace has a fall protection plan, and that all workers are able to perform their tasks safely, while wearing appropriate fall protection equipment.

In addition to making sure workers are safe in their daily tasks, MOL inspectors will also work to make sure that all materials and supplies in the workplace are being stored in a safe and secure manner.  this particular blitz will continue through October 26, 2014, so if you haven’t been targeted yet, there’s still plenty of time to get your workplace ready.

Young Alberta Workers Killed in Saskatchewan Accident

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

hardhatTwo young workers from Alberta have been killed in a horrible workplace accident in Fox Valley, Saskatchewan, which is located nearly 40 km east of the Alberta/Saskatchewan boundary.

The accident occurred last week, as a work crew of three men were working on a sewer line, and two of them fell about four metres into sewer lines. The falls were then followed by a partial collapse of the sewer line.

When they arrived, first responders and rescue workers were overwhelmed by noxious fumes, but they were eventually able to pull one of the workers, a 25-year-old man, to the surface. He was then taken to Maple Creek Hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after.

Not long after that, a local farmer showed up and brought equipment that allowed rescue workers to pull the second victim out. The 24-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police withheld the names of both workers, and simply gave their age and reported that both men were from Calgary. Autopsies were conducted and the Office of the Chief Coroner continues to investigate. in addition to that investigation, Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety is also conducting a workplace safety investigation.

Construction Fire Brings Multiple MOL Charges

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 22 charges against Jay Patry Enterprises Inc., in relation to an incident in Kingston that led to a fire that left a construction worker in hospital with burns, and required a dramatic rescue by the military.

The incident occurred on Dec. 17, 2013, when crane operator Adam Jastrzebski became stranded on top of a crane at the centre of a fire that had engulfed and destroyed a five-storey apartment building that was under construction.

The 68-year-old crane operator suffered burns to most of his body, including his back, hands and legs. The intensity of the fire was enormous, and it forced him to crawl along the boom of the crane, before a military helicopter picked him up and was able to airlift him to safety.

The heat of the fire caused windows in nearby buildings to blow out and several buildings, including a hotel and apartment building, were destroyed. Several nearby vehicles caught fire and more than 150 people were forced from nearby homes.

Among the charges lain by the Ministry of Labour include 11 charges related to fire safety precautions, and 11 others resulting from the company’s failure to cooperate with the ministry investigation.

In addition to those charges, Stelmach Property Management Inc. was also charged with two counts of failing to comply with requirements issued by a Ministry of Labour inspector. Ten other charges were laid against three individuals for providing a Ministry of Labour inspector with false information.

The first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Ontario MOL Blitz Results Show Noncompliance

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

MOLThe Ontario Ministry of Labour has released the results of a safety blitz their inspectors conducted between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, and the results are not promising for new small businesses.

The MOL inspectors visited new small industrial businesses with fewer than 20 workers, including wood and metal fabrication facilities, industrial services and vehicle manufacturers and service facilities. The results demonstrated that a number of them tend to violate even the most basic legal requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including something as simple as posting a copy of the OHS prominently in the workplace.

Besides failing to post a copy of the OHS Act, some of the other more common compliance orders given by MOL inspectors during the blitz included a failure to prepare a workplace health and safety policy or to maintain a health and safety program. Many failed to appoint a worker health and safety representative and to have that representative conduct regular health and safety inspections. And many failed to train workers on keeping worksites safe.

This particular enforcement initiative promises to be repeated during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Each MOL inspector plans to examine between four and eight small businesses that have not been previously inspected by the ministry or registered with WSIB. Therefore, everyone who is new to the business community should be prepared for such a visit, and not just assume that the MOL will just ignore them for the first year or two.


Ontario ESA Blitz

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Construction_WorkerBeginning in September, and running through November 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour plans to conduct a blitz of employers who are known to hire a large number of vulnerable workers, to evaluate their level of compliance with the Employment Standards Act (ESA) within the province.

For purposes of the ESA, Ontario defines “vulnerable workers” to be those who work in industries with a record of rights violations, and who may lack the resources and ability to understand their rights as workers. This can include young workers, temporary foreign workers, especially those whose first language is not English or French, and newcomers to Canada.

The overall goal of this group of inspections is to ensure compliance, but they also hope to further educate employers with regard to their obligations under the law.

The province conducted a similar blitz between May and August of 2013. For that blitz, inspectors took a look at a variety of workplaces, including warehouses, manufacturing and distribution sites and construction sites. As part of the current inspection blitz, an employment standards officer will not only take whatever necessary enforcement action is needed, but they will also attempt to educate the employer about the ESA and their obligations under it. If they find a violation during an inspection, they could issue compliance orders, issued tickets or, if the violation is serious enough, initiate a prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act.

When compared to the rest of the workforce, vulnerable workers experience greater exposure to hazardous working conditions, and are at greater risk of a violation of their employment rights. From April 2013 through March 2014, the Ministry of Labour  conducted more than 2,700 employment standards or inspections, and recovered more than $3.1 million in lost wages alone.


Company Fined for Worker Injury

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

thermoforming machineBrampton-based QBD Cooling Systems Inc., which manufactures commercial refrigerators, was fined $65,000 last week, for an incident in which a worker was injured by a machine at one of its plants.

The incident that led to the fine occurred on March 25, 2013, as a worker was making sure a new mold was properly aligned in a thermoforming machine. That machine fabricates a part by heating a sheet of plastic and pressing it against the mold. The thermoforming machine was enclosed by a frame, which was equipped with access gates at the front of the machine and on each side. Each gate contains a sensor that can determine whether the gate is in an open or closed position. If any gate is not properly closed, the machine will not operate.

The front gate allowed for the worker to fully enter the machine at the operation point. However, the safety gates were not designed to detect the presence of a worker inside the operating portion of the machine. At some point, the worker entered the machine via the front gate while the thermoforming machine was powered on. The worker closed the safety gate, so as to enable machine motion, while another worker stood at the control station to control the machine according to instructions from the worker inside the machine. As the worker stood inside the machine, a clamp from above him began to move and clamp down on him. As a result of this, the worker suffered serious bruising, bone injuries and organ injuries.

An Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation was conducted. The ministry determined that, by law, the motion of any machine that could potentially endanger a worker while repairing or maintaining a machine must be stopped and all potentially dangerous parts must be blocked to prevent movement.

QBD Cooling Systems Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a part of the machine was stopped and blocked to prevent movement. Justice of the Peace Richard Quon then imposed a fine of $65,000, plus a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That’s a total of $81,250 for not making sure a machine was safely locked down for a worker. Workplace safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

Charges Filed After Worker Fatally Injured

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has lain three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) against Ingredion Canada for an incident at the company’s Port Colborne plant last year, in which a worker was fatally injured.

The charges came after an eight-month investigation by the Ministry that was launched when a 28-year-old worker, Dan Gilmore, became crushed between a railcar and a steel beam while working at the facility on Nov. 8, 2013, and died from his injuries at Hamilton General Hospital 10 days later.

According to the Ministry of Labour report, while Gilmore was standing on the fixed ladder of a moving railcar he was hit by a stationary post. At first, his injuries were thought to be non-life-threatening, but they turned out to be more serious than that.

Two of the OHSA charges against the company have to do with their failure to ensure that measures and procedures outlined in the Act had been carried out at the workplace. According to the ministry, there was insufficient clearance between the moving railcars and the loading platform’s stationary posts, which constitute a hazard to the safety of workers in the area. The third charge stems from the fact that the company failed to provide Gilmore with sufficient information, instruction and supervision that would protect him from the hazard of riding rail cars inside of a building with close clearances.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, each conviction could result in penalties of as much as $25,000 in fines and as much as 12 months imprisonment for an individual, and a fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation. Ingredion will make its first court appearance Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. in St. Catharines.

Alberta Announces Sand and Gravel Safety Blitz

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

gravel pitAfter two incidents that resulted in particularly grisly worker fatalities in the month of July, officials with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) have announced that they will be sending out officers to inspect sand and gravel crushing worksites throughout the province.

This will be the second year in a row that OHS has conducted a safety blitz among these types of businesses. During last year’s campaign, OHS inspectors took a look at 64 sand and gravel crushing worksites over the course of eight weeks. During that campaign, the most common violation found concerned inadequate equipment guards, which bothered OHS officials very much.

This year’s campaign features a twist, because the law has changed since the last blitz. OHS officers can now write tickets on-the-spot for specific violations. These tickets could cost as much as $500, and can be written to either employers or workers. In addition, OHS inspectors can issue administrative penalties to those employers they determine do not take workplace health and safety seriously.

The province says it’s trying to determine whether the industry still needs to improve its health and safety records even further. While they are hopeful, the recent tragedies that occurred at sending gravel sites cast serious doubt on those hopes.

Specifically, OHS officers will be looking for a number of things, such as worksites that do not have proper safeguards in place, especially guarding on gravel conveyors; workers who are not wearing personal protective equipment; workers operating equipment improperly; workers operating equipment without the necessary certifications and; employers who have failed to address worksite hazards.

As noted, there were two accidents in which workers were killed while operating crushers, as they worked on the conveyors. One of these fatalities was a 15-year-old worker who was apparently attempting to clear a jam in a gravel crusher that he was operating. At the time of the accident, there are reports that no supervisor was present, and that the young worker was still being trained. That fatality has led to calls for stricter child labor laws in the province.