Archive for the ‘Inspectors’ Category

Report: New WorkSafeBC Investigation Methods Working

Monday, December 15th, 2014

WorksafebcAccording to a new report, a relatively new investigation model used by WorkSafeBC to look into workplace accidents that result in injured or dead workers will from here on be more likely to result in criminal charges against a company. The new system of investigation has been in place since September.

The report recommended an overhaul of inspection and investigation methods at WorkSafeBC, and was triggered by two explosions at British Columbia sawmills within a few months in 2012,Between them, the two explosions left four workers dead and 40 others injured. B.C.’s Justice Ministry blamed flawed WorkSafeBC investigation techniques in both cases for the decisions by the Criminal Justice Branch not to lay charges.

The report discussed the progress on the new investigation protocols so far, and the outlook was positive. They said, if a prosecution is needed, the agency now has the ability to make sure it’s successful.

The new investigative model allows investigators to conduct twin investigations, for both cause and prosecutions. This is done by bringing in a prosecution team early in the investigation, to make sure all evidence is protected and admissible to the courts. WorkSafeBC hopes to appoint a number of special constables to further assist with the investigation process.

The report cited several key areas where progress was noticeable since July, including the implementation of a sustained dust safety compliance plan and policies for the wood manufacturing sector, as well as the development of a health and safety association for that sector. They also noted the finalization of two Memoranda of Understanding between WorkSafeBC and police agencies to more greatly cooperate and share information at those times when they are conducting investigations at the same time on the same incident.

Between Oct. 6 and Nov. 25, two of the 118 mills monitored for dust were issued orders by WorkSafeBC to properly manage their combustible dust. One stop-work order was issued. The report cited that as “a dramatic improvement from where things stood six months ago.”

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.


Nova Scotia Auditor: Workplace Safety Needs More Follow Up

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

According to provincial auditors, Nova Scotia employers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to  make provincial workers safer, especially when it comes to following up on violations. Auditor general Jacques Lapointe noted that the Labour Department could do a better job of prevention by placing greater focus on enforcing work order compliance.

InspectorThe auditors discovered that, during the period between April 2012 and March 2013, a total of 10 summary offence tickets had been issued in 1,228 cases where workplaces failed to comply with safety orders in a timely manner.

The Labour Department did respond to the report, claiming that 95 percent of employers eventually complied with the orders. They also noted that they used administrative penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as a method for forcing employers to comply with safety orders. They did admit, however, that they had to be more consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules.

LaPointe also noted that only 27 of the 100 workplaces with the worst safety records were targeted for inspections during the period examined by auditors. According to the report, the current system does identify higher-risk workplaces, but then it fails to create a specific inspection plan for the year. Because of this tendency, the auditors’ report notes that many of the more dangerous workplaces in Nova Scotia fail to receive proper attention.

In addition to the auditors, a number of labour groups have also weighed in, demanding that the province hire more inspectors and pay more attention to the most dangerous workplaces. They note that, at current staffing levels, inspectors are stretched thin, and it’s not possible to do after-accident inspections and also perform pre-emptive inspections.

Ontario Announces Warehouse “High Impact Visits” (Blitz)

Monday, November 18th, 2013

MOLThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is obviously trying to keep warehouse managers on their toes, and enforce safety in their workplaces, because they’ve warned them of yet another warehouse safety blitz which is scheduled for February and March 2014. They obviously intend to make warehouse managers concerned, because this time, instead of the word “blitz,” the MoL has chosen to use the term “high impact visits.”

These “high impact visits” will focus on five specific elements in the warehouse, including lift trucks, which they’ll be examining closely to make sure lift truck operators have been properly trained to follow Ministry of Labour guidelines. They will also check to make sure lift trucks are operated at CSA standards. They’ll also be taking a look at conveyors, paying particular attention to guards on the head and tension pulleys. They will also investigate lockout procedures, so if you don’t have one, you might want to develop one, and start-up warning devices.

Another area they will be looking at very closely are the warehouse racking systems, especially with regard to system capacities, and looking for compliance with manufacturers’ guidance. They will also investigate who installed them, and who performed pre-start health and safety reviews (PSRs), which are required by Ontario law, not just when they’re installed, but every time a qualified technician does a repair on the installation. If the warehouse has a crane, inspectors will want to take a look at documentation regarding pre-shift inspections, and whether crane operators have been fully trained regarding all aspects of crane operation, including hook ratings, sling angles and hot work.

Ministry inspectors will also take a close look at all aspects of the loading dock operation of the warehouse, including documentation regarding training, especially with the lifting equipment on the dock and truck safety, dock inspections and preventative maintenance.

Failing to make sure your warehouse is in safe working condition could end up costing you. The time to prepare is now.

Ontario Worker Killed, Five Other Injured in Electrocution Accident

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

hydro poleAs workers were setting up a large outdoor tent in preparation for a family celebration near Watford, Ontario on August 1, the tent came into contact with a power line. This resulted in the death of a 21-year old worker from London and critically injuring a 17-year-old worker. Four other workers were transported to Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital, where they were treated for other unspecified injuries.

According to the Lambton Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the work crew, all of whom were under 25, were working for Signature Events Rental Centre, a London-based event-planning company. Local Emergency Medical Services, first responders from Hydro One and the OPP all arrived at the scene almost immediately after the accident.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, which is investigating the incident, homeowners hired Signature Events to erect a tent on their property for what is believed to have been a wedding. The crew of six workers was putting it up when the tent pole contacted an overhead power line. The Ministry noted that the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), a nonprofit organization that promotes electrical safety in Ontario, is helping with their investigation.

According to an ESA press release issued the day after the accident, there have been 28 deaths and 63 serious injuries in Ontario from contact with power lines over the last decade. They also noted that 39 percent of the province’s electricity-related deaths in that time involved overhead lines.

Ontario MOL Inspectors Focus on Roofing Safety

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

rooferThroughout the months of August and September, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will be conducting an enforcement initiative, targeting safety hazards involving sloped roofing at construction projects.

The purpose for this initiative is based on the reality that working on sloped roofing is an inherently dangerous job that can often be exacerbated by factors such as poor ladder setup, non-use or inappropriate use of fall protection systems, and poorly maintained equipment. Failure to take proper safety precautions while performing roofing jobs cost the lives of five workers and critically injured 79 more in just the construction sector alone last year. All it takes is a small slip to seriously injure someone.

For two months, inspectors will visit construction sites across the province, in order to raise awareness of fall safety and to promote compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. And they will be doing so seven days a week, so don’t relax if you’re working on Sunday. They will focus on identifying fall hazards, as well as fall protection training and setup. They’ll also look at the proper use of ladders, as well as heat stress and materials handling hazards, which can result in musculoskeletal disorders.

The Ministry of Labour is undertaking this initiative to protect construction workers as part of its Safe at Work Ontario strategy.

I was talking with an inspector one day …he said, these guys just don’t get it. Fall protection harness’s aren’t parachutes!!! They have to be attached to something!

Company and Supervisor Both Fined For Same Regulation – Twice

Monday, April 15th, 2013

MOLAn Ontario company and one of its supervisors have both been hit with fines, after they were found in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act twice within the same week for the exact same violation. The first violation resulted in the injury of a student worker, and the second occurred right in front of a Ministry of Labour inspector, as he was investigating the first. The company was Welland-based CRS Specialties Inc., a manufacturer of rebar bending equipment, who was fined $55,000, while a second fine of $4,000 was imposed on the supervisor in question.

The first incident occurred on March 23, 2011. The student had just finished up taking apart a fan and washing it in a Varsol bath, when he was start a welding task. At the time the student worker was wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt over overalls. The supervisor did not supply him with a welding jacket, welding sleeves, neck shroud or flame-retardant clothing, even though polyester is very flammable, and should not be worn while welding. Predictably, the sweatshirt ignited and caught fire, causing the student to suffer second degree burns.

Unbelievably, a few days later, on March 28, 2011, a Ministry of Labour inspector who was on site investigating the first accident five days earlier, happened to witness another worker in the same workplace performing a welding task while wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt and only one welding sleeve.

In the Ontario Court of Justice, CRS Specialties Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a competent person was appointed as supervisor. In addition, the supervisor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a worker was wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury while welding.

The fines and the legally required 25% victim fine surcharge were imposed by Justice of the Peace B. Phillips on April 4. That means the supervisor will have to pay $5,000 out of his own pocket. How much can you afford for not ensuring the workers in your care are safe?

Ontario MOL Plans New Mandatory Basic Safety Training

Monday, January 14th, 2013




Based on recommendations made by the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) plans to file a regulation to take effect on or about July 1, 2013 that would make basic workplace health and safety awareness training mandatory for just about every worker in the province. It also plans on imposing a January 1, 2014 deadline for employers to make that happen.


According to the MOL website, training will be mandatory for all workplaces in all sectors that are currently covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Of course that includes industrial establishments and construction worksites, but the new requirement is so extensive, it includes workers in what have always been considered low-risk jobs, such as office workers.


The regulation will require that all new supervisors receive supervisory safety awareness training within the first week of starting a new job, and that all new workers receive the worker training as soon as possible after starting work. Those new supervisors and workers who can prove they received the safety awareness training previously with another employer will not be required to retake the training.


The MOL has already finalized and released some of the new training materials that employers can use, in the form of a workbook, entitled “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps,“ and an accompanying employer guide. Both can be found at the MOL website.  Since the new requirement is for basic safety awareness training only, those employers who train workers using these materials will automatically be found in compliance when the regulation takes effect, so there’s no reason to put it off. Keep in mind, however, employers will still have to provide job-specific safety training, developed by the employer, tailored to the job.


Supervisor safety awareness training materials have not yet been finalized, although there is a pilot version is being tested, and there is an employer guide to the supervisor training program.  The final version should be released shortly.


All employers should be aware of the new regulations and requirements. Even if you’ve already provided safety awareness training to workers and supervisors, they will have to be “equivalent” to the new training program or you will not be compliant. Failure to comply with the new training requirements by January 1, 2014 could result in charges and/or fines.


The MOL plans to launch a public consultation on the proposed new regulations, and the MOL will also raise awareness and education on occupational health and safety by launching new resource materials.

Ontario MoL Planning a Blizzard of Blitzes

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL) wants everyone to know it’s serious about workplace safety, so it will be blitzing well into next year, so it would be wise to spend some time preparing to host an MoL inspector at some point.


As we told you previously, the (MoL) launched a summer safety blitz on May 1, targeting the construction and industrial sectors with a focus on hazards and risks of injury to new or young workers who lack experience. That blitz is ongoing, and will continue through August. They are also in the midst of a Struck by Objects Blitz, which focuses on hazards associated with traffic control during roadwork, which began on June 1, 2012, and will run through the end of the month.


But that was only the beginning.


The MoL will continue blitzing workplaces in July and August, when inspectors conduct a Tower and Mobile Crane Blitz, which will target hoisting hazards. Also in the month of July, the MOL will conduct a Pits and Quarries Blitz, which will  focus on hazards associated with haulage.


In September and October, the MoL will conduct a blitz they call “Supervisory Engagement in Construction,” when they will examine construction companies’ practices with regard to meeting supervisory responsibilities. During that blitz, they will also make sure employers are meeting all training and requirements spelled out under Section 14 Reg. 213/91.


In October and November, inspectors will conduct a blitz examining issues with machine guarding, Material Safety Data and workplace violence in the manufacturing sector. November through February 2013 will feature a safety blitz in the underground mining sector, specifically examining the hazards associated with ore pass and loading pocket systems, and ventilation hazards. February and March 2013 will feature a Slips, Trips and Falls blitz in the industrial and construction sectors, focusing on ladder safety and fall protection systems.


Recently, the Ministry of Labour released the results of its February 2012 Musculoskeletal Blitz. In less than 30 days, inspectors examined more than1,700 workplaces across the construction, healthcare, industrial and mining sectors, and issued just under 5,000 orders overall, including more than 300 stop work orders.  Based on the thoroughness of that blitz and the results they obtained, you can expect the upcoming blitzes to be very comprehensive and thorough, so you might want to prepare now.

The Time to Post Ontario Ministry of Labour’s New Safety Poster is Now

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL) is in the process of distributing free workplace posters titled “Health & Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here” in English, French and 15 other languages to employers all over the province.  According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, those employers who receive the poster will be required to post it in their workplaces immediately. The MOL has said that its inspectors will “begin enforcing the requirement” on October 1, 2012.


Employers who would rather not wait have the option to download and print the poster from the MoL’s website here.  The poster can be printed in black and white or colour and must be posted in print size of at least 8.5 by 11 inches


The poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of their employers and supervisors. It also reminds employers they are forbidden from taking action against workers for following the act or raising workplace health and safety concerns, and seeking enforcement of the OHSA. It also encourages workers to get involved in health and safety and explains when and why to contact the Ministry of Labour.


The poster was created after an expert advisory panel appointed in 2010 found many workers had little or no understanding of the Act, and advised that a health and safety poster be made available in multiple languages.


Any Ontario employers who are considering not putting up the poster yet should know that MoL inspectors will look for it when they arrive at workplaces. By putting up the poster, employers  can show that they are on keeping on top of health and safety law developments.