Safety Blitz Targets Industrial Workplaces



    McGuinty Government Committed To Eliminating Workplace Injuries

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ -

    NEWS

    The Ontario government will continue its efforts to reduce workplace
injuries by cracking down on hazards involving forklifts and lifting devices
at industrial workplaces in February 2009, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca
announced today.
    Inspectors will focus on ensuring employers are inspecting and
maintaining lifting devices in good condition, using competent persons to
operate the equipment and ensuring that the equipment is being used in a safe
work environment.
    For each conviction, the court can impose a fine of up to $500,000
against a corporation convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
(http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=db3317b0b296da4). Individuals face a fine
of up to $25,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.
    This initiative is part of the province's new Safe At Work Ontario blitz
strategy (http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/news/2008/08-63.html), announced
on July 23, 2008. Keeping more workers safe means increased productivity for
Ontario's economy and less strain on the health care system.

    QUOTES

    "Forklifts and other lifting devices are a significant cause of serious
worker injury and deaths," said Labour Minister Peter Fonseca
(http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/mn_bio.html). "The Government of
Ontario and its workplace partners are committed to eliminating all workplace
injuries, including those related to these lifting devices. Workers have a
right to come home each day to their families, safe and sound."

    
    QUICK FACTS

    -   The Ministry of Labour compliance program that ran from April 1, 2004
        to March 31, 2008 reduced the workplace injury rate by 20 per cent,
        or more than 50,000 incidents.
    -   Thirteen workers died between 2003 and 2007 as a result of industrial
        incidents involving lift trucks, reach trucks, forklifts and tow
        motors, according to ministry statistics.
    -   In total, there were 10,308 forklift-related incidents where there
        was a lost time injury between 1996 and 2008, an average of 793
        incidents a year, according to the data compiled by the Occupational
        Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO).
    -   Because of the drop in the annual rate of lost-time injuries,
        employers have avoided about $5 billion in direct and indirect costs
        during the four years ending March 31, 2008. Reduced injuries also
        result in less strain on the health care system, and fewer workers
        off the job means increased productivity for Ontario's economy.
    -   Ontario employs 430 full-time occupational health and safety
        inspectors.

    LEARN MORE

    Read more about Ontario's new four year plan, Safe at Work Ontario
    (http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/index.html), that will help
    strengthen workplace safety.

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                                                      ontario.ca/labour-news
                                                      Disponible en français


    BACKGROUNDER
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                          FORKLIFT HAZARDS FOCUS OF
               INCREASED ENFORCEMENT AT INDUSTRIAL WORKPLACES
    

    Ministry of Labour inspectors will look for hazards involving forklifts
and other lifting devices during an enforcement blitz of industrial workplaces
in February 2009.
    The increased enforcement is part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario
(http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/index.html) strategy, launched in
June 2008.
    Forklifts and other lifting devices, used to raise or lower material and
objects, continue to be a significant cause of serious worker injury and
deaths. These devices are commonly found in many industrial sectors in
Ontario.
    Thirteen workers died between 2003 and 2007 as a result of industrial
incidents involving lift trucks, reach trucks, forklifts and tow motors,
according to ministry statistics. During this period, Workplace Safety and
Insurance Board statistics showed the average forklift lost-time claim
resulted in 67 days lost from work.
    In total, there were 10,308 forklift-related incidents where there was a
lost time injury between 1996 and 2008, an average of 793 incidents a year,
according to the data compiled by the Occupational Health and Safety Council
of Ontario.

    
    These incidents were due to a number of factors, including:

    -   lack of preventative maintenance and load capacity examinations;
    -   lifting devices striking objects during operation such as racking
        systems; and
    -   workers being struck by forklift trucks, other lifting equipment and
        improperly-secured loads.

    Inspectors will take a "zero tolerance" approach to any contraventions
found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
(http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=db3317b0b296da4) and its regulations.

    Blitz Focus

    Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will pay particular attention to
industrial sectors where incidents most often occurred. These include:

    -   Retailers
    -   Wholesalers
    -   Transportation
    -   Automotive
    -   Wood and Metal Fabrication
    -   Food, Beverage and Tobacco
    -   Office and Related Services (employment agencies that supply non-
        clerical labour to industrial workplaces)
    -   Chemical, Rubber and Plastics

    Ministry inspectors will also target workplaces:

    -   Identified as being high-priority due to possible lifting devices and
        forklift hazards;
    -   Known to have highly hazardous processes and equipment;
    -   Where complaints have been received; and
    -   Where there is a poor compliance history.

    Priorities

    Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

    -   Lifting Device Inspection and Maintenance: Inspectors will check to
        ensure employers are maintaining equipment in good condition to
        prevent mechanical or operational failures, undertaking repairs as
        necessary and examining lifting devices, according to legislated
        requirements, to determine their load capacity.

    -   Operation of the Lifting Device by a Qualified Person: Inspectors
        will check to ensure that workers having the training, knowledge and
        experience to operate lifting devices or, where workers are being
        instructed, that the workers are accompanied by a trained individual.
        Inspectors will review training records and question workers on their
        familiarity with the equipment being used in the workplace and
        possible hazards. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure
        workers operating lifting devices are up-to-date on required
        training.

    -   Safe Work Environment: Inspectors will ensure employers are taking
        every reasonable precaution to protect workers who are working in the
        area of forklifts and lifting devices. This may require the use of
        protective barriers, qualified signal persons, warning signs or other
        safeguards. Employers should conduct a comprehensive workplace
        assessment of vehicular and pedestrian traffic to determine the most
        appropriate safeguards to utilize in their workplace.

    Safe At Work Ontario

    Sector- and hazard-specific inspection blitzes are an important feature of
Ontario's Safe At Work
(http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/index.html) strategy. There is no
acceptable rate of injury in Ontario workplaces.

    That's why Safe At Work Ontario seeks to:

    -   improve workplace health and safety culture
    -   reduce workplace injuries and illness
    -   reduce the burden on the health care system
    -   avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance
        Board, and
    -   provide a level playing field for compliant companies

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                                                      ontario.ca/labour-news
                                                      Disponible en français
    





For further information:

For further information: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416)
326-7710; Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, (416) 326-7405

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