TORONTO, Ontario—Once again, warehouse managers are being warned that the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL) is intending to make safety a priority.
The MoL has scheduled a proactive enforcement safety blitz for the new year. Taking place in February and March 2014, the MoL will focus on five specific elements in the warehouse, according to Chuck Leon, a warehouse/material handling specialist with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.
“Some of the questions they’re going to ask there are: What are your capacities? Where is your documentation? Who installed the racking system? By the way, I noticed you’ve got some repairs, who did the repairs and are there PSRs (pre-start health and safety reviews) on the repairs, because in Ontario when you modify a rack you must do a PSR.”
“With your lift trucks they’re going to ask: Have the operators been trained? What kind of training have they had? Are they trained to the CSA standard because even though there is no legal requirement under the law to follow standards, I will tell you right now, the Ministry of Labour weighs very heavily upon the CSA standard for lift truck training. As well as their own guideline. If you don’t have a copy of the Ministry of Labour guideline, you should get a copy. It’s the best document written on lift truck operations I’ve ever seen. It walks you through everything a lift truck operator should be able to demonstrate to be deemed a competent operator, so if you follow that as part of your evaluation process for your people you’re going to be laughing.”
According to Leon, the MoL will be asking questions about lockout procedures, and safety features such as guards on the head and tension pulleys. Inspectors will also ask about start-up warning devices.
While not as common in the warehouse, Leon says inspectors will still inquire about pre-shift inspections, whether operators know and understand hook ratings, sling angles and hot work, and if wire ropes on rigging have been replaced according to industry standards.
“They’re going to be asking you for documentation, training records, preventative maintenance records of your lifting equipment. When was the last time the loading dock was inspected? When was the last time you did preventative maintenance?
He added that while it’s common to do lift truck training, it’s not as common for companies to do training with the trucks and lifting equipment on the loading docks. But that’s something the MoL will want to see evidence of during the visit.
Leon, who was speaking at an event organized by the Materials Handling & Management Society (MHMS) of Ontario, reminded the members about how serious inspections visits are. And what their consequences can be.
“It’s your due diligence. You’re the one who has to prove you’re innocent because under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you’re guilty if you’re charged by the Ministry of Labour and it’s up to you to prove you’re innocent. It’s not like criminal law where you have a jury of peers who will say if you’re guilty or not. Not under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”