Archive for the ‘Inspectors’ Category

Ford Plant Accident Leads to MoL Orders

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Hardhat Safety manualOntario Ministry of Labour inspectors have issued a total of four work orders against the Ford Motor Company in the wake of an accident at the company’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor last Wednesday, August 3, that resulted in a 47-year-old worker receiving a significant head injury.

According to reports of the incident, the worker was injured when an object fell and struck him on the head, while he was at his work station. As he was working, a machine he was working on “caught a vent” and knocked the vent off. When the vent fell, it hit him in the back of the head, causing him to lose consciousness for a time, as well as a one-inch laceration to the back of the head. Paramedics were called and reported that the man was bleeding and temporarily lost consciousness before they transported the worker by ambulance to Windsor Regional Hospital, where he was subsequently treated for non-life threatening injuries and released soon after.

Paramedics were called and have reported that, when they arrived, the worker was bleeding and had lost consciousness before they transported him by ambulance to Windsor Regional Hospital, where he was subsequently treated for what they described as non-life threatening injuries. He was released soon after.

The Ministry of Labour  then issued a stop work order until the company could ensure that materials and equipment were secured, as well as orders forcing the company to find a “permanent solution to a temporarily supported piece of material in a workstation.” The stop work order was lifted on Thursday. As of Friday, the “permanent solution” order was still in progress. Ministry of Labour officials continue to  investigate the incident. Hopefully, that includes the question of why such workers apparently aren’t wearing hardhats.

Ontario OHSA Convictions Increase

Friday, February 12th, 2016

InvestigatorIf it seems as if a safety inspector hasn’t visited your Ontario workplace in a while, it’s not your imagination. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s (MOL) latest Annual Report, in 2014-2015, the number of field visits by MOL inspectors  declined a bit last year, to 70,604 total, which was down from 73,204 in 2013-2014. That total is down 30 per cent from the highest number ever recorded, 101,275 in 2007-2008. In fact, it marked the lowest number of inspections in 11 years.

That doesn’t mean employers can breathe a sigh of relief, however. While the number of field visits to workplaces to enforce the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) were lower, the number of convictions actually increased. In 2014-2015,  there were 817 convictions for OHSA violations, up from 780 in 2013-2014, which means the MOL was more successful in its prosecutions, whether they won at trial or obtained a guilty plea. The upswing in the number of convictions actually reverses a trend, after six years of declines.

With an increase in the number of convictions, however, came a slight decrease in the average fine in 2014-2015, with each conviction costing an average of $11,463.73, slightly down from the average of $11,932.00 in 2013-2014.

As a result of this activity, the number of workplace injuries described as “critical” was down slightly in 2014, but there hasn’t been a significant drop in years. In addition, there were 81 fatalities due to workplace trauma in 2014, which was down significantly from the 102 in 2013, but close to the ten-year average of 88. It’s clear that the MOL will have to take some steps to increase inspections and scrutiny to make a real dent in those numbers.

Gold Mine Shuts Down After Worker Accident

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Gold nuggetLast week, Goldcorp, Inc., the largest gold producer in Canada, suspended operations at one of its mines in northern Ontario after an accident in which a miner was killed. The suspension was ordered while officials with the Ontario Ministry of Labour conduct an investigation into possible violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and will continue until the investigation is complete.

The accident occurred at Musselwhite gold mine, a fly-in, fly-out operation at Opapamiskan Lake, about 480 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, which is operated as a joint venture with Barrick Gold Corp., which operates the mine. It happened early Wednesday, November 25, when a scoop operator who was working underground was overwhelmed by a rock fall. As soon as the accident occurred, Goldcorp launched search and rescue operations and found the scoop covered in material and the operator fatally injured.

In a press release following the incident, Goldcorp noted that they are cooperating fully with the accident investigation and plan to offer support to the family of the worker, as well as all co-workers at the mine. The company stated at the time that it is conducting an internal review of its safety procedures and promises to strengthen them to prevent such instances in the future.

The Musselwhite mine is actually one of Goldcorp’s more productive and lucrative mining operations, expected to produce between 250,000 to 270,000 ounces of gold in 2015. This is a terrible tragedy that may end up costing the company millions of dollars and illustrates quite clearly the advantage of emphasizing safety in the workplace.

Ontario Ministry of Labour Investigating Accident at Chrysler Plant

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Ambulance 2A 54-year-old worker is recovering in a Toronto hospital and the Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating after he was seriously injured in an accident at the vehicle assembly plant in Brampton owned by Fiat Chrysler America Canada, Inc. (FCA Canada), formerly Chrysler Corporation, at a little before 1 a.m. on July 26.

According to the Ministry, the worker received a critical head injury while he was doing work at a press machine. It took a high-angle rescue team from Brampton Fire and Emergency Services to get the worker down safely, after which he was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. While the injuries were considered severe, they are no longer considered to be life-threatening.

The Ministry of Labour began their investigation of the huge plant and issued two orders almost immediately. For one, FCA Canada was ordered to put in place measures and procedures designed to make doing maintenance work on the press machine safe, while the second was to ensure that workers are trained on the new measures and procedures.

According to Ministry officials, both orders have been complied with, but they continue to investigate the plant, which covers almost three million square feet and employs more than 3,000 workers. The plant assembles a number of popular vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger.  Their investigation will focus on what safeguards are in place to prevent accidents like these and others, to make sure the plant has proper procedures in place to comply with all regulations, including the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and whether or not workers are being properly trained regarding how to spot and subsequently avoid hazards.

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.

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.

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.