Ontario material handling safety blitz nets 107 stop work orders

by MM&D Staff

During a safety blitz last fall, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted 1,224 visits to 1,014 workplaces and issued 4,393 orders under the OHSA (Ontario Health and Safety Act) and its regulations. This included 107 stop work orders. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.

From September 14 to October 23, 2015, the inspectors visited industrial workplaces in Ontario, including retail outlets, plants, factories and workshops.

Material handling involves activities related to the loading, unloading, storage, and movement of goods and supplies in workplaces. Inspectors checked for material handling hazards that could result in worker injuries and deaths.

In particular, the blitz targeted workplaces with a high incidence of lost-time injuries; not previously visited by the ministry; where complaints had been received; and, where there was a history of non-compliance.

The inspectors focused on:

Lift trucks and other lifting devices: Inspectors checked that employers had examined lift trucks and other lifting devices (including related hardware and rigging equipment) to ensure they were being operated within their load capacity and that they were maintained in good condition.

Workplace layout/design: Inspectors checked that employers were providing safe and appropriate access and egress to work areas. They also checked that workers/pedestrians were not endangered by mobile equipment or the movement of materials at the workplace.

Manual handling: Inspectors checked that employers had developed and trained workers on safe manual material handling practices. They also checked that items required to be manually handled were done so in a safe manner, including while a worker was on a ladder, mobile ladder or step stool.

Mobile/transport equipment: Inspectors checked that employers had ensured equipment was appropriate for use, maintained in good condition and safe practices were being followed. This included checking employers had safe load securement procedures and workplace traffic management plans.

Storage systems: Inspectors checked that employers were ensuring materials were placed or stored in a safe manner and could be removed or withdrawn without endangering a worker’s safety. This included checking on bulk, rack and automated or unitizing/palletizing equipment processes and practices.

Internal Responsibility System: Inspectors checked that employers, supervisors, and workers were aware of their OHSA roles and responsibilities. They also checked that required health and safety representatives or Joint Health and Safety Committees were in place, where appropriate, and were functioning as required.

Worker training: Inspectors checked that employers were providing information and instruction to workers to perform material handling tasks safely, including providing mandatory basic awareness occupational health and safety training.

Workplace supervision: Inspectors checked that supervisors had completed the mandatory occupational health and safety awareness training.

It was the second year in a row the ministry targeted these hazards in a blitz. They checked that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

In 2013, musculoskeletal disorders comprised 37 percent of all injuries involving lost time at work, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Workers being struck by objects and equipment, as well as other contact, accounted, on average, for more than 27 percent of claims received by the WSIB in 2014 for lost-time injuries.

Together, these two types of injuries have consistently accounted for between 65 and 70 percent of all lost time at work, according to the WSIB.

The top three most frequently issued orders during this blitz involved employers’ failure to ensure:
•    Lifting devices were examined by a competent person and safely operated within their load capacity, representing seven percent of orders;
•    Equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer were maintained in good condition; 6.5 percent of orders;
•    Materials were moved in such a way as to not endanger a worker’s safety and were transported, placed or stored so the materials would not tip, collapse or fall. A total of 4.9 percent of orders fell into this category.