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High-rise construction trades targeted in MOL blitz

By: Angela Stelmakowich

Ontario’s labour ministry has a message for construction projects engaging in high-risk construction trades: ensure everything is in safe working order.

The point will likely be repeated often — with the goal of having that message stick long term — as part of the Ministry of Labour’s (MOL) month-long inspection blitz, which kicked off March 1. Ministry inspectors will be visiting sites that have high-rise formwork, low-rise formwork and masonry, siding and built-up roofing.

The lost-time injury rate per 100 workers for the five trades ranges from almost double to four times that of construction in general, notes a backgrounder from the MOL.

“The safety and well-being of all Ontario workers is a priority of our government. It’s especially important to make sure we’re protecting workers in high-risk trades from slips or falls that would be disastrous for them and their families,” labour minister Linda Jeffrey told reporters assembled near a residential development in Mississauga, Ontario on March 2.

The goal of the blitz is to protect workers from preventable injuries and illnesses arising from unsafe work practices, raising awareness of key occupational health and safety hazards in each trade and helping workplace parties comply with legal requirements.

But getting that general message across demands looking at specific hazards. The workers are “working at very high heights, they’re working in an area where they have no surrounding to protect them from falls, they’re working with heavy equipment, dangerous hot equipment, they’re working in a very noisy environment and they have to be alert to everything beside them, below them, above them,” Jeffrey told OHS Canada.

As such, inspectors will be taking a “zero tolerance” approach to any breach of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Inspectors will check work areas to ensure they are free of hazards that cause slips, trips or falls (especially during concrete forming operations, siding, masonry and roofing work) and unsafe use of equipment like ladders, platforms and scaffolds. Inspectors will also confirm that there is adequate education, training and supervision of workers (especially for new and young workers).

“Most of the incidents involve young workers,” says George Gritziotis, Ontario’s first chief prevention officer (CPO).

Ministry statistics show that in 2010, falls in the five targeted trades claimed the lives of six workers and injured 159 others. Of those injured, almost half were young workers.

Blitzes offer two faces: compliance and awareness, suggests Gritziotis, who as CPO is tasked with developing a provincial oh&s strategy, co-ordinating and aligning Ontario’s oh&s prevention system and providing advice on the prevention of work-related injuries and diseases.

A blitz is about ensuring compliance, he said in an interview, “but at the same time, I think an important part of that is you’re creating ( Read more … )

Source: OHS Canada

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