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New Measures Planned To Increase Construction Safety

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New Measures Planned To Increase Construction Safety

Ontario is taking steps to improve safety at construction sites after a recent enforcement blitz.

The blitz was part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.

Between January 18 and April 16, 2010, Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted high-risk companies. They checked for hazards involving working from heights, including the incorrect use of suspended platforms and fall protection systems, at more than 2,800 construction sites across Ontario.

Ministry inspectors took a zero-tolerance approach to fall-related contraventions found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Results of the blitz indicate key elements required to keep workers safe such as adequate supervision and worker training in hazard awareness were not in place at construction projects where violations were found.

More than half of the 3,421 fall-related orders issued by ministry inspectors were for missing or incorrect use or maintenance of guardrails (853), suspended scaffolds (629) and fall protection systems (442).

Orders were also issued for violations involving worker training and records (296), ladders (294), stairs (237), elevating work platforms (101), suspended scaffolds and boatswain's chairs (76), window cleaning (54) and other matters such as flat roofing work, platforms, runways and ramps (439).

Between 2005 and 2009, almost 40 per cent of workers who died in work-related incidents were construction workers. In total, there were 117 workers who died in construction-related incidents. Another 998 workers were seriously injured during this same period.

Planned Measures

In response to the blitz results, the government is taking action to reduce injuries and deaths at Ontario construction sites.

Enforcement

The Ministry of Labour is continuing its heightened enforcement at construction sites, with a zero tolerance approach to fall-related contraventions.

As part of this enforcement, inspectors will include targeting construction sub-sectors showing higher rates of non-compliance.

In addition, employers who repeatedly contravene the law will be subject to heightened enforcement by inspectors.

Building Partnerships

People will be able to call toll-free 1-877-202-0008 if they spot what might be an unsafe labour practice in any Ontario workplace.

As well, an awareness campaign will be mounted in many languages - in addition to English and French - urging employer and labour stakeholders and the public to report unsafe practices and conditions.  

The Ministry of Labour will work with provincial and municipal organizations to allow for greater sharing of building project information.

In addition, the ministry will seek to broaden its information-gathering ability by proposing regulatory amendments that would require employers to notify the ministry before they use suspended platforms/scaffolds.

Expert Advice on Proposals for Regulatory Amendments

A panel of experts has been established to review worker safety in Ontario. The panel is chaired by Tony Dean, a former deputy minister of labour.

The ministry will seek the panel's advice on the issues of mandatory worker and supervisor training.

The panel will also look at the role all parties must play in a workplace health and safety system and how they must work together to ensure workplaces are safe. These parties include the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, health and safety associations, as well as labour, employers and other stakeholders.

The panel is made up of safety experts from labour and employer groups and academic institutions. It will report to the Minister of Labour in the Fall of 2010.

The ministry will also seek advice from the Provincial Labour Management Health and Safety Committee on expanding the use of enforcement tools (such as ticketing and summons), increasing fines and, more generally, mandatory training for workers and supervisors on fall protection and other high hazard construction activities. 

The Provincial Labour Management Health and Safety Committee is a committee established under OHSA Section 21 to advise the Minister of Labour on matters of health and safety in the construction industry.  It includes representatives of both labour and management in the construction industry.

Safe At Work Ontario

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.

Safe at Work Ontario is the Ministry of Labour's workplace health and safety strategy focusing on:

  • Enforcement
  • Compliance
  • Partnership

Since being launched in June 2008, the province's team of more than 430 safety inspectors has made in excess of 130,000 proactive field visits, issued more than 200,000 compliance orders and conducted 18 proactive enforcement blitzes.


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