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Blitz Targets Workplace Falls

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Blitz Targets Workplace Falls

Ministry of Labour

Ministry of Labour inspectors will target hazards putting workers at risk of falling at workplaces in the construction, industrial and mining sectors from May 16 to July 15, 2016.  

During the blitz, inspectors will check that employers are taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Falls are a leading cause of critical injuries and deaths of workers in Ontario. Over the past decade, there have been many serious incidents involving workers at workplaces: 

  • In 2015,10 workers died on construction projects as a result of falls
  • In 2015, there were eight work-related deaths from falls at industrial workplaces
  • Between 1991 and 2015, 10 workers died in Ontario mines as a result of incidents involving falls

More than 70 per cent of fall-related injuries in all sectors in 2013 were due to "same level falls" (falls on floors and other surfaces) in Ontario, according to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics. Falls from heights accounted for almost 29 per cent of fall-related injuries and many of the work-related deaths in Ontario.

Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • Lack of training on falls hazards identification
  • Lack of adequate training for the task
  • Lack of proper equipment
  • Lack of adequate barricades to prevent falls
  • Poorly maintained equipment
  • Improper access to elevated work areas

Blitz Focus

In particular, inspectors will target workplaces: 

  • Known to have a high-frequency of injuries involving falls
  • Where complaints have been received or previous incidents have occurred
  • Where there is a history of non-compliance

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the OHSA and its regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities for each sector:

Construction:

Inspectors will check:

  • Workers have received training for working-at-heights and on specific onsite equipment and hazards
  • Employers are ensuring proper fall protection systems and equipment are available for the work being conducted
  • Guard rails are installed when needed
  • Openings in work surfaces are guarded or adequately covered
  • Skylights hazards are assessed and workers are protected

Industrial:

Inspectors will check:

  • Employers have policies and programs in place to protect workers from falls such as requirements for safely using ladders
  • Employers have developed safe work practices, including assessing falls risks
  • Employers have assessed ladders, stands and platforms for hazards, and that this equipment is maintained and placed on firm footing when in use  
  • Workers have received information, instruction and supervision to prevent injuries and deaths from falls hazards, including the right to refuse unsafe work

Mining:

Inspectors will check:

  • Employers have policies and procedures in place to protect workers from falls
  • Employers conduct risk assessments and have other practices in place to minimize falls hazards
  • Measures exist to protect workers from falls off ladders, mobile stands and platforms
  • Openings and elevated platforms are properly protected with rails, toe boards and other barriers to prevent falls
  • Personal protective equipment is provided and used in the workplace, including footwear, head protection and fall protection systems
  • Workers who work at heights have received training

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