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Blitz To Focus On Concrete Formwork On Construction Sites

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Blitz To Focus On Concrete Formwork On Construction Sites

Erecting and dismantling concrete forms on building construction sites is a major source of lost time injuries in Ontario with more than double the average rate of other construction work.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board records for the 2008 calendar year show that, across the construction industry in Ontario, there were 2.08 lost time injuries reported for every 100 full-time equivalent workers.  The rate for demolition and formwork was 5.57.

Two traumatic fatalities this year have been attributed to high-rise forming operations.

The focus of the blitz by Ministry of Labour inspectors in August will be on the hazards associated with the design, erection and dismantling of formwork used in the placement of concrete.

Falls, contact with overhead power lines, excavation collapses and being struck or crushed by equipment and material have caused most of the injuries.  The blitz will focus heavily on fall hazards with zero tolerance in situations where workers are unprotected by a fall protection system.

Stop work orders will be issued when there is imminent danger to workers.

When inspectors encounter formwork that has not been inspected, and there appears to be no immediate risk to workers, inspectors will issue a short-time order for the employer/constructor to comply.

Inspectors will be guided by an audit checklist, starting with any documentation required at the project.  They will note contraventions and will discuss workers' safety concerns with them or with their representative.

Safe At Work Ontario

Among the identification criteria for workplaces to be inspected are injury rates and associated costs, compliance history, hazards inherent to the work, specific events or incidents (e.g., critical or fatal injuries, or violence), and  the presence of new and⁄or vulnerable workers.

Sector and hazard specific inspection blitzes are an important feature of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy.  There is no acceptable rate of injury in Ontario workplaces.

That's why Safe At Work Ontario seeks to:

  • improve workplace health and safety culture
  • reduce workplace injuries and illness
  • reduce the burden on the health care system
  • avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and
  • provide a level playing field for compliant companies.

Safe At Work Ontario builds on the success of the Ministry of Labour four-year compliance program ran until March 31, 2008, which, by the last year, had helped to reduce the annual rate of workplace injury by 20 per cent.

Because of the decline in the annual rate of lost-time injuries, employers have avoided about $5 billion in direct and indirect costs during the four years ending March 31, 2008.  About 50,000 injuries were prevented.  Fewer injuries have lightened the strain on the province's health care system and enhanced workplace productivity.

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