Archive for the ‘OHS’ Category

Saskatchewan Concerned Over Fall Safety

Friday, August 26th, 2016

investigatorIn Saskatchewan, safety officials are examining serious problems with fall safety at residential construction sites throughout the province. Their Occupational Health and Safety Division (OHS) took a look at the results of inspections conducted on such sites in 2015 and found a startling lack of compliance with OHS regulations.

For example, during two stepped up inspection campaigns last year, they only found 41 percent compliance with regulations regarding the covering of openings into which a worker could step or fall. When it came to providing barriers for open shafts, they found only 20 per cent  compliance. Only 48 per cent of sites were compliant with regarding the wearing of protective headgear, only 41 per cent used fall protection and only 50 percent of workers had even been trained with regard to an effective fall protection plan.

That’s why WorkSafe Saskatchewan is now engaged in a campaign to remind those contractors engaged in home building and renovation to pay closer attention to problems such as these. Based on the 2015 Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Annual Report, construction trades helpers and labourers made 775 accepted claims, which was the fourth-highest number in the province.

That’s also why OHS will be stepping up inspections at residential construction sites for the rest of the summer and throughout the fall. They plan to focus on the most dangerous and pressing compliance issues in residential construction, including uncovered openings and failure to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and fall protection equipment. If your residential construction worksite isn’t up to standards, contractors can expect to be hit with fines and possibly even stop-work orders, so be prepared.

Two Cement Truck Accidents in a Week

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

hardhatLast week was not a good one for workers working with or on cement trucks in the Ottawa area. For example, on Wednesday, August 10, officials with the Ontario Ministry of Labour were informed of an incident at a new residential construction site in the Greely area.

According to the Ottawa Paramedic Service, they treated a 43-year-old worker for both a concussion and a serious hand injury as a result of being struck by the metal pipe of a cement pumping truck. It happened as the cement was being poured into wooden forms at the time of the incident. On Thursday, it was reported that the worker was in stable condition in an unidentified Ottawa hospital.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t even the first accident of the week involving workers and a cement truck. Last Monday, another construction worker, later identified as Jacques Lambert, died after he was pulled into a cement mixer at Lafarge Canada construction site in Ottawa’s east end.

In that incident, Lambert, who was an employee of Ottawa-based Prestige Design and Construction Haulage Limited, whom Lafarge had contracted, tried to clear some caked-on concrete from the truck when he fell and was somehow pulled into the drum. According to reports from emergency personnel who arrived at the scene, several of his co-workers tried to help but said that he was too badly injured. The emergency crews rushed to the site after receiving the call and climbed the cement truck’s ladder, but found that the worker had already died.

Officials from the Ontario Ministry of Labour are investigating. None of the companies involved with either incident have commented, except to say that they are cooperating with the investigation. Any charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be laid within one year of the incident. If convicted, companies can be fined as much as $500,000, while individuals who are found guilty can be penalized as much as $25,000 or spend as much as 12 months in jail.


Company Fined for Demo Site Injury

Monday, August 15th, 2016

ExcavatorIn an Ontario court last week, a family-owned construction company that specializes in demolition services for the construction industry, Sean Teperman Consulting Corp., pleaded guilty to violations of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and was hit with a $50,000 fine for an accident in which a new construction worker was seriously injured.

The accident that led to the violation and fine happened on April 10, 2014, while the company was in the process of demolishing a building in Toronto. The worker, who was on only his second day on the job, was working with a crew to load dump trucks with debris using an excavator. The excavator would lift the debris and place it into the dump truck, with the worker in question acting as a spotter for the excavator operator, while being positioned in a box inside the bed. However, as the debris was being loaded, he was struck by the moving bucket from the excavator. The worker was subsequently taken to hospital for serious injuries.

An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour found that the worker who was supposed to be doing the spotting was actually not even visible to the excavator operator.  They determined that this was a violation of the Construction Projects Regulation that states, “no worker shall remain on or in a vehicle, machine or equipment while it is being loaded or unloaded if the worker might be endangered by remaining there.” They also charged the company with violating OHS regulations requiring that an employer ensure that a worker is working with all protective measures and procedures required by the Construction Projects Regulation.

After the company pleaded guilty, Sean Teperman Consulting Corp. and was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Sunny Ng in Toronto court. The court then imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a total hit to the company’s bottom line of $62,500 because failed to make sure every worker at the site was safe.

Paving Machine Rollover Accident

Monday, August 8th, 2016

motorgraderAccording to the Alberta Ministry of Labour, safety officials there are investigating an accident at a road construction zone near the town of Beaverlodge, located near the border with British Columbia. The accident, which occurred on July 25, claimed the lives of two workers, who were crushed when they were operating an asphalt reclaimer as part of a highway repaving project and the machine rolled over into a ditch, crushing them.

Though the information released was limited, the Beaverlodge detachment of RCMP did confirm the two fatalities. They said that a Vancouver-based construction company, Ledcor Group, is the main contractor for the paving project, but that the two workers, whose names were not released, worked for a subcontractor, Lafarge, which is a supplier of construction materials throughout North America that counts its Calgary location as one of its main offices.

Alberta Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety investigators are in the process of investigating the incident. Two days after the accident, they issued a stop-use order on the asphalt reclaimer, as well as a stop-work order on the overall road reclamation process at the worksite until they could gather more information. RCMP officials noted that they have never heard of a rollover accident involving any piece of road paving equipment. This does seem to be an unusual occurrence, so it will be interesting to find out whether or not this machine had been maintained properly, or if the operators had been properly trained or were doing something they should not have.

Company Fined for Not Securing Structure

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

stop and think signOntario-based Welded Tube of Canada Corporation was found guilty of violating several provisions of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and has been fined $50,000 for an incident in which one of their workers was injured by a falling post.

The incident that led to the charges and the fine happened on March 5, 2014 at a construction site in Concord. On that date, workers were in the process of dismantling and replacing a steel storage system, which consisted of what are called “sleeper beams,” which are described as 7-inch hollow steel tubes. These “sleeper beams” were laid out on the ground and vertical upright posts were being welded onto the sleeper beams. When one of the workers cut loose one of the upright posts, that caused the posts to shift and then fall onto a worker, striking and injuring him. Thankfully, since the accident, the worker has returned to his usual full-time duties.

When the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted their investigation, they determined that the sleeper beams had not been adequately anchored in a way that would prevent movement, which is a violation of OHS Regulation 213/91, which states that “every part of a project, including a temporary structure, shall be adequately braced to prevent any movement that may affect its stability or cause its failure or collapse.”

Justice of the Peace Karen Walker ruled that Welded Tube failed as a constructor to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to the OHS Act. In addition to the $50,000 fine that was imposed, a  25-per-cent victim fine surcharge was imposed, as  required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means the total hit to the company’s bottom line was $62,500, just because workers didn’t stabilize the structure, as required by law. This is another incident demonstrating the importance of a workplace safety culture. If workers had taken an extra moment to make sure the structure was stable, they would have prevented a worker injury and saved the company a lot of money.

Ontario MoL Issues Orders to Roofer

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Fall ArrestAfter a recent accident in which a worker fell while working on a roofing project in Windsor, that worker’s employer, Rauth Roofing Limited, has been issued several orders by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The accident happened while the company was doing flat roofing work at a two-storey GoodLife Fitness location on the morning of July 15, although the incident was not reported publicly until late last week. According to reports, the worker apparently fell through an opening in the roof to the floor below. Emergency services were contacted immediately and the worker was transported to hospital. The Ministry was notified of the accident that day and immediately launched an investigation. To date, the MoL has not identified the worker who was injured or described his condition, although several reports have said he is a 53-year-old male.

Last week, the MOL issued five orders and two requirements to Rauth Roofing related to the accident. Among them included orders requiring the company to install an adequate floor cover, as well as to install adequate guardrails. They were also ordered to secure an access ladder at the top and the bottom and they were ordered to install bump lines. The agency also ordered the company to select a health and safety representative for the project and they issued two requirement orders to place portions of the accident scene on hold and to hold onto certain pertinent documentation.

According to the Ministry’s statement on the accident, the requirement orders have been complied with and their investigation is ongoing. No one has been able to confirm whether or not the accident  victim had been using fall protection equipment at the time of the accident, but according to Ontario OHS rules, workers are required to use it anytime they are at risk of a fall of at least three metres.

Company Fined for Worker CO Exposure

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

gas maskA property maintenance business, Ground Maintenance Cleaning Contractors Inc. (GMCC Inc.), pleaded guilty earlier this month and were give a fine of $75,000 for violations of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act because they failed to train and protect a work crew from exposure to carbon monoxide gas in a parking garage, which resulted in one worker collapsing and dying from exposure.

The incident occurred  at a condo building in Scarborough on May 28, 2014. GMCC had been hired by the condo company to power wash the underground parking garage. To perform their work, GMCC’s crew of six workers were using four gasoline-powered washers, which emit carbon monoxide (CO) gas. The garage had several internal exhaust fans, but at some point, they stopped working. The condo’s superintendent told the supervisor of the GMCC Inc. crew that an electrician had been called to repair the fans, but in the meantime, the work crew continued, using portable fans.

Soon after, a worker left the garage and collapsed on a sidewalk after which emergency personnel were called and the worker was transported to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead from carbon monoxide toxicity. The other workers were also transported to hospital, where they received treatment for carbon monoxide exposure and released with no lasting health issues reported as a result of the incident.

An investigation was conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, who concluded that neither the work crew nor the supervisor had received any formal training on the hazards of carbon monoxide. Furthermore, it was determined that neither GMCC nor the supervisor took steps to protect workers from carbon monoxide poisoning. Workers had received no formal health and safety training other than Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and many hadn’t even received that training.

GMCC, Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to limit the exposure of workers to carbon monoxide as prescribed by OHS, and  Justice of the Peace Rhonda Roffey fined them$75,000 and tacked on the 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means they’re out $93,750 and one worker, simply for not training workers to be safe. Proof again that safety training doesn’t cost, it pays.

Ontario Company Fined For Hand Injury

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

lockoutA Kitchener, Ontario cracker manufacturer, BFG Canada Ltd., pleaded guilty recently and was fined $110,000 for an incident that occurred on Dec. 5, 2014, in which a worker’s hand was pulled into a machine, causing him to suffer permanent injuries.

The incident occurred at the company’s Kitchener manufacturing facility, which included an incline conveyor system that is used to cool the crackers after baking and move them through the processing line. The conveyor system was driven by a powered roller that was about two metres wide and which rotated counter-clockwise in  order to pull the conveyor belt forward. One centimetre from that powered roller was an additional roller that rotated in the opposite direction to guide the belt, which created a pinch point.

The day of the accident, the powered roller had been slipping and was unable to move the conveyor belt forward, so a worker was instructed by a BFG supervisor to troubleshoot and repair the problem. Without disabling the machine, the worker saw a piece of grip tape that had been sticking out from the edge of the powered roller,  about a foot from the pinch point, and when he tried to grab the grip tape to tear it off the roller, his hand was pulled into the pinch point, injuring him.

Soon after the accident, the worker was able to shut off the machine, but it took emergency personnel almost 40 minutes to free him from the machine completely. Soon after, he was transported to hospital, where he was treated for serious injuries. He now suffers permanent restrictions as a result.

After a thorough investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the company was charged with failing to ensure a guard or other device was in place on the conveyor system to protect a worker from an in-running nip hazard as required by Section 25 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation, which was a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. After pleading guilty, BFG Canada Ltd. was then fined $110,000 by Justice of the Peace Adriana Magoulas, who also imposed the 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge, making the total hit against the company $137,500, simply because it had not trained workers to lock out conveyors before trying to troubleshoot problems.

Not Signaling Truck Brings $100,000 Fine

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

transporttruckLast week, Mississaugua-based Dream Party Décor, which sets up decorations and amenities for celebrations at rental halls, pleaded guilty to occupational health and safety violations and fined $100,000 for an incident in which a temporary worker was struck by a truck while working on a loading dock.

The incident occurred on March 22, 2014, when the temporary worker was working with a team of other workers in the process of preparing to unload a truck at the loading dock, which was located at the main company facility at 1415 Bonhill Road in Mississaugua. According to the report from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the driver of the truck did not have a clear and unobstructed view of the area behind the truck as he backed toward the loading dock, but there was no signal person present to guide the driver into place. When the truck was put into reverse, it struck the worker and pinned him between the truck and the edge of the loading dock. The impact caused the worker to suffer fatal injuries.

After a thorough investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Dream Party Decor was charged with failure to comply with section 56 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation, which requires the presence of a signal person when the vehicle operator does not have a clear view of the vehicle’s path while reversing.

After the company pleaded guilty to the charge, Justice of the Peace V. Albert Chang Alloy  assessed the $100,000 fine, as well as a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means failing to signal a truck driver to a safe place cost this company $125,000 total. Another example showing that worker safety doesn’t cost companies, it pays.

Canada Implements New OHS Regs

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

GHSThe Government of Canada announced a series of new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations at the end of last week. These new rules are intended to provide greater protection to workers, as well as to align industry standards with common international practice when it comes to the safe handling, usage and storage of hazardous materials in the workplace.

These new additions to OHS regulations are part of the Government of Canada’s implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), in order to coordinate Canada’s hazardous materials system with that of other nations, especially key trading partners such as the U.S, the E.U, Australia, China, Japan and South Korea, all of which are either currently in the process of adopting the GHS or already have done so. Officials believe that by improving and harmonizing all hazard information as standard, businesses will save money and will be better able to comply.

By adopting the GHS for workplace hazardous materials, the Government of Canada hope to be able to facilitate greater trade, reduce the inherent costs to Canadian businesses of compliance with regard to trans-border shipments and to make Canadian suppliers of workplace chemicals more competitive. All of that is in addition to the strengthening level of protection of Canadian workers, which will improve their overall health and safety.