Archive for the ‘OHS’ Category

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.

Using Social Media in OHS

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Social MediaThese days, it’s safe to say that social media is everywhere. Everywhere we go, we see people using it, whether at home, or in the park, shopping for groceries or doing any number of things (except driving! Never use it while driving!). It sometimes seems as if most people we encounter are staring at their phone, checking out the latest Facebook, Twitter or  Instagram posts, checking to see if a client, friend or co-worker has shared their wisdom on LinkedIn or checking YouTube or TED for the latest videos. Even this blog is part of the social media infrastructure; there’s a good chance you were brought here by a Facebook, Google+ or Twitter posting.

According to a study released last year by Forum Research, Facebook is the top social network in Canada, followed by LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, in that order. On average, the study indicated that, for young Canadians, Instagram is the most popular network, drawing 32 per cent of them at least six times per week, with almost as many – 25 per cent – using Twitter at least five times per week.  Social media is a huge factor when it comes to connecting people, and OHS professionals are beginning to use it a lot more as they attempt to communicate with more people in the workplace.

Workplace trainers and OHS professionals can incorporate social media in their training programs very easily and cheaply and it may have a greater impact. For example, rather than rounding up workers for health and safety training, a greater number of trainers are posting short videos on YouTube or passing on safety information via Facebook or Twitter that only takes a few seconds or minutes for a worker to read or watch.  Not only that, but it’s possible to get real-time feedback in the form of shares and Re-Tweets and the information can be re-sent any number of times for maximum effect.

One thing that can happen when incorporating a social media platform into training is that it actually increase the credibility of the trainer and possibly even trigger engagement among the intended audience. This is especially true when it comes to young workers, who are three times as likely to be injured on the job as other workers. A well-developed social media presence can present an opportunity to get more information out to more people. That means every workplace can benefit, due to each worker’s ability to pass on the safety-related information in real time. Young workers are more likely to pay attention to a safety message if it comes from a co-worker, friend or family, regardless of the original source. That makes social media a potentially valuable tool for OHS professionals.

New Noise Regulations for Ontario

Monday, June 20th, 2016

New Noise RegulationsThe Ontario Ministry of Labour is reminding all employers that a new noise regulation that was approved last December, will take effect on July 1, 2016. The new regulation, which falls under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act as Ont. Reg. 381/15, has been designed to offer greater protection from hearing loss for more workers in more industries.

According to the Ministry of Labour, noise-induced hearing loss is “a leading cause of occupational disease for Ontario workers.” The new regulation applies to many more types of workplaces than the regulations they replace. In addition to industrial establishments, mines, and manufacturing plants, the new rules provide for specific noise protection requirements to many other workplaces, especially construction sites.

The new rules limit worker exposure to noise to a maximum average time-weighted exposure limit of 85 decibels for each eight-hour shift. They also require employers to either implement new measures or to enhance existing measures with a goal of reducing workers’ exposure to noise.  Employers will also have to consider engineering controls to reduce noise at its source or along the path of transmission wherever such a thing is possible, and when it’s not possible, they will have to schedule work activities to limit exposure. In addition, they’ll be required to provide personal hearing protection devices when necessary.

The Ministry’s current guidelines instruct employers with regard to how they can make a basic assessment of noise level exposure by listening to other’s speak. If someone has to shout at someone one metre away in order to be heard, it is likely the noise level is in excess of 85 decibels. However, even if workers are exposed to noise levels that are slightly below that level, employers should be aware that some noise control measures may still be required since maximum exposure levels are based on a worker’s cumulative exposure to noise throughout the work day.

Since the new regulations take effect July 1, it’s probably a good time for Ontario employers to consider having a notice level assessment done, to ensure that each workplace is in compliance with the new regulations.

Ontario Contractor Fined for Worker Fall

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 6.24.47 PM (2)A Hamilton, Ontario-based home builder, Multi-Area Developments Inc., pleaded guilty this past week and received a fine of $55,000 for an incident in which a construction worker was injured when he fell through an opening and was injured.

The opening was on the ground floor of a building as part of a 94-home project called Summit Park. The accident happened on August 13, 2013, while a worker who had been hired by a subcontractor and another worker were doing framing work, installing sheeting on the ground-level floor joists. Several sheets had already been installed, with an opening needed to accommodate a staircase that had not yet been installed. The worker fell into the opening and landed in the basement, which was about nine feet below the sheeting. The worker was injured in the fall.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted an inspection and found that neither of the workers who were putting the sheeting in place was wearing fall protection, which meant they were exposed to falling into the basement. In addition, there were no guardrails in place to protect the workers from the opening. Both of these issues were in violation of Section 26.1 of Ontario’s Construction Projects Regulation, which states that a worker who is exposed to falling through an opening in a work surface must be adequately protected by a guardrail system or by a method of fall protection.

Last Tuesday, Multi-Area Developments Inc. pleaded guilty to the violation and they were subsequently fined $55,000 by Justice of the Peace Mitchell H. Baker in Hamilton court. In addition, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means they are down a total of $68,750 simply because they didn’t take basic precautions. Guardrails or fall protection are a necessity to protect workers under OHS. Not following the rules can cost your company.

Alberta Workplace Safety Grants Awarded

Friday, June 10th, 2016

moneyThrough Alberta Labour’s Innovation and Engagement Grants  program, 20 organizations received funding in 2015-16, for projects and programs that were designed to improve occupational health and safety (OHS) awareness and education. The agency sees the development of greater OHS training programs as a priority going forward in the province, and they feel the best way to encourage that is through support.

For the 2015-16 period, the program gave out about $500,000 in grants, including four Capacity Building grants, 10 Action grants, and six Momentum grants. The money will pay for a number of projects, including theatre productions to educate students on workplace safety, at least one online occupational therapy course designed to specifically address the issue of workplace violence and harassment, as well as a number of safety conferences administered by several organizations.

There are three levels of funding available under this grant program, including:

  • Capacity Building grants, up to $10,000
  • Action grants, up to $20,000
  • Momentum grants, up to $50,000

In addition to these grants, Alberta Labour also provides nearly $1 million to organizations who conduct research into methods and best practices for preventing workplace injuries, illness, and disease. They feel that these types of programs further their goal of reducing or eliminating workplace injuries throughout the province.



Ontario Enforces Fall Safety

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Fall SafetyFrom now through July 15, 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will be targeting fall hazards in workplaces all over Ontario. While they will target a number of industries, there is a special emphasis on the construction, industrial and mining sectors.  Employers in all industry sectors should be prepared for this safety blitz, but all industries should be especially aware.

The Ministry is conducting this blitz in part because falls are among the leading causes of workplace injuries and deaths throughout Ontario. Because of this, inspectors will pay close attention to ensuring that all employers are assessing and properly addressing fall hazards that are present at each workplace. In particular, they will be looking to make sure that all workplaces have:

  • Implemented policies, programs and safe work practices designed to protect workers from falls;
  • Properly assessed ladders, mobile stands and platforms and that all hazards have been identified;
  • Maintained equipment properly and placed it on firm footing while it is in use;
  • Installed safety barriers where needed;
  • Provided workers with and trained them on the use of appropriate fall protection systems, personal protective equipment and other safety devices whenever they are working at heights;
  • Ensure that workers who are working on truck beds, trailers or the top of loads are doing so safely.

Falls are the number one cause of  critical injuries and death in the construction industry in Ontario. Last year alone, 10 Ontario workers died in falls at construction projects. In addition, there were eight workplace deaths from falls in industrial workplaces.



Edmonton HVAC Worker Injured

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

hardhat bootsA 52-year-old worker for Silent Aire Manufacturing, a prominent  Edmonton HVAC company, was seriously injured as he worked with a work crew on the morning of May 16. The group of workers he was working with was preparing to move an air-conditioning system from an assembly line that day, at about 11:30 a.m. For some reason, as they were moving the nearly one-tonne HVAC system, it fell over onto the worker, pinning him from the midsection down.

The worker was immediately transported to hospital, where he had to undergo surgery and was recovering more than a week later. No other details about his condition were available.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety did not immediately issue any orders, but they are conducting a thorough investigation, with which Silent Aire is promising to cooperate with fully. In a press release, company officials said that they were also in the process of conducting their own investigation into the incident, but they noted that their internal company policy prevented them from discussing anything further until all investigations are complete.

In business for more than 20 years, Silent Aire Manufacturing is a private, family-owned company that provides HVAC systems for very specific markets, including the health care and the data centre markets. They have provided HVAC systems for a wide range of companies, including some large ones, such as Dell, Amazon, Dow Chemical and Shell. When this investigation is complete, it will likely cost them a lot more than just money.

Nova Scotia Employer Not Guilty

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

legal law justiceAn elevator contractor in Nova Scotia has been found not guilty of occupational health and safety violations. They had been charged for failing to take proper safety precautions for an incident in which an elevator motor weighing more than two tonnes fell onto a construction worker named Joachim Antonio. The accident left the scaffold foreman trapped under the motor, and he was left with a broken femur and a number of serious lacerations.

The accident occurred on March 19, 2013  at the site of the former Citadel Inn in downtown Halifax. Antonio worked for Safway Services Canada, which had contracted Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting Ltd. to provide services related to the elevator construction hoists. After an investigation by provincial safety officials,  Vertical Transport was charged with failing to provide safety precautions under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act. More specifically, The Crown alleged that the company provided inadequate supervision during the installation of the elevator hoists.

For their part, the company denied any responsibility for what happened to Antonio, in part because he wasn’t their employee and they denied that responsibility for even supervising the job. During a five-day trial in April, the court heard that both companies had made several attempts to make sure a Class A mechanic was available at the construction site for the installation and a number of emails, voice mails, and phone records supported that. In the end, Judge Anne Derrick ruled that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Vertical Transport was responsible for supervising the job and found the company not guilty.