In an effort to demonstrate how regular inspections and hazard identification can really help employers to prevent workplace incidents, in this blog we decided to interview Clear Path's Health & Safety expert, Denise Williams CRSP. We asked Denise to review two recent convictions found on the Ontario Ministry of Labour court bulletins posted on their website. Denise shares her tips on how to prevent workplace injuries by placing more importance on inspections and recognizing hazards. We hope these tips will help you avoid incurring similar charges from the Ontario Ministry of Labour like the companies listed in the scenarios below.
Toronto, ON - Res 2000 Structures Inc., a Cookstown constructor, was fined $160,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was killed. On March 12, 2010, workers were installing formwork and concrete at a building project in Toronto when a worker fell about 10 meters through an opening in a concrete slab. The worker died as a result of the fall.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the opening's protective floor covering, which was unmarked and unsecured, had been removed before the worker fell through.
Res 2000 Structures Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the floor covering completely covered the opening in the work surface, was securely fastened and was adequately identified as covering an opening.
We asked Denise, "Would regular workplace inspections have identified this issue? Why are inspections so important"
" Definitely! If this workers on this site were performing regular planned supervisor inspections they should have been able to identify hazards like the one above, implemented a control to neutralize the hazard and prevent an injury and potentially the fatality in this case. Regular workplace inspections and hazard identification:
Employers, Supervisors AND Employees have a general duty to do everything reasonable in their workplace to protect everyone's health and safety. To build a culture of safety between this Internal Responsibility System (IRS), it is also of outmost importance to be completing unplanned inspections, and "eating and breathing" the concept of controlling hazards."
Hamilton, ON - Triple M Metal Corp., a Brampton company that recycles metal, was fined $75,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured. On May 25, 2010, at the company's facility in Hamilton, a worker was using a torch to cut a railcar coupling. The coupling contained a cylinder that held compressed hydraulic fluids. The torch pierced the cylinder, allowing the hydraulic fluids to escape and ignite. The worker suffered second and third degree burns.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the company's procedures to identify hazardous materials failed to ensure that objects containing compressed hydraulic fluids were not cut using torches.
Triple M Metal Corp. pleaded guilty to failing take the reasonable precaution of having a safe procedure to ensure that objects being cut contained no hazardous materials.
We asked Denise, "Can you help us understand what hazard identification is and how this might have prevented this unfortunate incident?"
Hazard recognition is a documentation process that is required during your workplace inspections (daily, weekly monthly, annually etc) to ensure ALL areas of the workplace are safe and continuously maintained. The documentation can be done in a variety of forms:
In this case having a documented Hazard Recognition process would have ensured this worker checked his workstation and materials prior to utilizing tools or equipment that might cause a workplace incident. Keeping your policies and procedures up-to-date, training your workers and supervisors on how to keep your business a safe place for everyone to work will help you avoid workplace injuries and Ministry of Labour visits by identifying exposures in your workplace."
The Ontario Ministry of Labour posts court bulletins on their website in regards to convictions and violations of the Ministry of Labour. http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/
If you are concerned that you might be next on the MOL's hit list, join Denise as she presents more real world tips and strategies during Clear Path's Safety Inspections learning sessions coming up on Tuesday May 8th 2012.
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