Inspection Blitz Targets Fall Hazards At Industrial Workplaces
This month, Ministry of Labour health and safety inspectors will look for hazards that can cause industrial workers to slip, trip or fall.
The results of the last industrial falls blitz show that falls continue to be an issue in all industrial workplaces, including transportation, education, industrial services, retail and wholesale workplaces. Therefore, inspectors will not target a particular type of workplace during the blitz. (The "industrial" sector does not include mining, health care or construction workplaces.)
The ministry's blitz strategy targets workplaces in all sectors. Last December, four construction workers fell to their deaths while working from a swing stage. In response, the ministry undertook a 90-day blitz of fall hazards in the construction industry that concluded on April 16. Final results of the blitz will be released in May.
Inspectors will focus on:
Falls from heights -- Inspectors will check all tasks and activities that may cause falls from heights, the primary focus of the blitz. Platforms, raised floors, mezzanines and balconies can pose risks to workers. Inspectors will look for proper guarding and fall-arrest equipment, and check that workers are trained on their use.
Falls from ladders, mobile ladder stands and platforms -- Inspectors will make sure workers who use these types of equipment follow best practices; these include:
- not using ladders as work platforms
- ensuring equipment is on a sound, firm footing
- maintaining three-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand)
- using equipment that is appropriate in the circumstances (designed and constructed for industrial applications and maintained in good condition)
- following the manufacturers' recommendations for use and maintenance of equipment.
Mobile equipment -- Some workers in this sector use mobile equipment such as cranes and lift trucks. Inspectors will check for proper use of these devices. Inspectors are particularly concerned about reach trucks and fall-distance calculations, making sure that workers use lanyards at appropriate heights.
Falls into liquids -- Life jackets are one way to protect workers from drowning. In other instances, guards, tethers or other fall-protection methods may be the best form of prevention.
Logging and trucking -- Workers may be exposed to fall hazards from the beds of trucks and trailers, as well as from the tops of loads.
Same-level falls (trips and slips) -- Inspectors will check floors and other surfaces workers use, and pedestrian traffic areas (walkways, aisles and building exits). These areas must be kept free of obstructions, hazards and accumulations of refuse, snow and ice.
Safe At Work Ontario
Sector- and hazard-specific inspection blitzes are a key part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, which seeks to:
- improve workplace health and safety culture
- reduce workplace injuries and illnesses
- reduce the burden on the health care system
- avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
- provide a level playing field for compliant companies.
Since the launch of Safe At Work Ontario in June 2008, the province's team of more than 400 safety inspectors has:
- made more than 70,000 workplace visits
- issued more than 200,000 compliance orders (including more than 10,000 orders to stop dangerous work)
- conducted 17 proactive inspection blitzes across all sectors.
The goal of Safe At Work Ontario is to find and eliminate hazards before they cause workplace injuries.
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