Archive for the ‘OHS’ Category

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.

Mandatory Construction Training Proposal

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

mandatory construction trainingThe Ontario Ministry of Labour has proposed several amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that, if approved, would require all employers in the construction industry to ensure that all workers complete a mandatory construction hazard awareness training program.

Specifically, the amendments would change the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13) and they would apply to all employers and workers who engage in work to which the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) applies.

Employers would have two possible ways to meet this requirement. One way would be to ensure that all workers successfully complete an approved training program that will be developed by the Ministry’s Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). The other way would involve completion of a similar training program developed by the employer, in consultation with the joint health and safety committee (JHSC), based on the learning outcomes set out in the regulation. Of course, the second approach would only be available to those employers who are required to have a JHSC.

These proposed amendments are in support of the Ministry’s Construction Health and Safety Action Plan, which is being implemented to reduce injuries at construction projects throughout the province. The hope is that the increased training will improve worker awareness of the most common hazards at construction sites and gain greater insight as to how they  may be controlled or eliminated.

Included with the proposed amendments is a two-year transition period, which should give employers ample time to ensure that existing workers have completed the training before the proposed amendments come into force.

The Ministry will be seeking public and stakeholder feedback on these proposed amendments from now until Friday, August 12, 2016. Submissions received during the consultation period will be considered in the final preparation of the proposed amendments and the final training program and provider standards.

Supervisors Fined for OHS Violations

Monday, May 16th, 2016

judgementSupervisors in workplaces throughout Ontario and Canada should be aware that they can also face charges and be fined, individually, for violations of occupational health and safety regulations. It seems as if that is happening more often lately. For example, last week, in an Ontario court,  J.S. Redpath Ltd. and two of its supervisors were found guilty and fined a total of $136,000 for an incident in which two workers were injured by falling rock at the Cochenour Mine in Red Lake.

The incident happened on August 4, 2013, when the two workers were being transported via mechanized raise climber (MRC) up a ventilation raise, which is a vertical opening underground, to the rock face where work was being performed.  Previously, the two workers had been drilling and explosives had been detonated and they were heading back to the face to resume work.

Unfortunately, they only managed to travel about 30 feet up when rocks started to fall onto the MRC, striking both workers. One worker was knocked unconscious, while the other received minor injuries. The conscious worker began to throw items out of the basket they were in as a way to attract the attention of an operator working at the bottom. Within about three hours, other mine personnel were able to rescue the two miners.

 J.S. Redpath Ltd was found guilty of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for failing to ensure that the worker who became unconscious had been properly trained to work on the MRC, for failing to ensure that the drilling and blasting area was examined by a supervisor during each work shift and for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to the workers for not ensuring that a supervisor or trainer didn’t observe the crew driving the MRC. For all three offenses, the company was fined a total of $125,000.

The court didn’t stop with the company, however. Philip Parrott was superintendent at the Cochenour mine, while Robert Beldock was the shift supervisor for the workers working in the MRC. Parrott was convicted, as a supervisor, for failing to take the reasonable precaution of conducting job task observations and for failing to ensure that he or another supervisor visited a ventilation raise where drilling and blasting was being carried on during each work shift. For his part, Beldock was also convicted of the latter charge as a supervisor. As a result, Parrott was fined $6,000 and Beldock was fined $5,000.

The decision was reached by Justice of the Peace Danalyn J. MacKinnon after nine days at trial and the fines were imposed in Kenora court on May 12, 2016. In addition to each of those fines, the court also imposed the mandated 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means the company has to pay $156,500, while Parrot will pay $7,500 and Beldock $6,250. That’s a lot to pay for not making sure your workers are safe.

Safety Blitzes Bring Results

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

InspectorThe Ontario Ministry of Labour has stepped up its schedule of enforcement blitzes, probably because they work. This week, the Ministry released statistics for two recent blitzes and the results showed that many workplaces weren’t ready for them going in, but the results made them compliant, which makes everyone safer.

In one blitz, conducted between October 1 to November 30, 2015, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited 967 construction projects and they ended up stopping work more than 200 times to force compliance with safety requirements having to do with the use of heavy equipment at those sites.

In all, during that two-month blitz, inspectors issued a total of 2,277 orders for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), including  268 stop-work orders for a specific piece of equipment, machine, device or process. They also issued 53 stop-work orders for violations of fall protection regulations and 27 for excavation violations. The good news is, as of March of this year, companies have complied with 95 per cent of all the orders issued during the blitz.

At the same time, Ministry inspectors also conducted a mine safety blitz, visiting 78 mining workplaces across Ontario, where they issued a total of 192 orders for OHS violations, including 16 stop-work orders for specific equipment violations, 23 orders for failure to follow the provincial modular training standard and required program guidelines and 153 orders for violations related to hazards involving equipment, protective barriers, safety precautions and ground conditions.

The good news is that employers have addressed 100 per cent of the orders issued during that safety blitz.

In all, they found problems when they inspected, and now, almost all of those problems have been fixed, which means more workplaces are safer for workers.

Calgary Worker Knocked into Trench

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

TrenchOn Friday afternoon, April 15, a construction worker was rushed to hospital with possible life-threatening injuries at a worksite near the Coast Plaza Hotel in northeast Calgary, after he was struck by a piece of heavy equipment, causing him to fall into a trench.

Paramedics and rescue crews with the Calgary Fire Department responded to the job site after they received a 911 call at 1:20 p.m. The rescue personnel worked to shore up the trench before pulling the man out and transporting him to hospital.

According to witnesses, the man was apparently struck with the bucket of a track hoe that was located at the job site. Apparently, throughout the ordeal, the victim appeared to be conscious and was apparently moving but it was unclear exactly how badly he was hurt until he arrived at hospital. The man was not identified, but in their reports paramedics said he seemed to be in his 40s.

Alberta occupational health and safety officers were almost immediately called in to investigate and their investigation is ongoing, although no charges have been lain as yet.