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Blitz Results: Preventing Hazards Involving Forklifts and Lifting Devices

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: June 2010
  • Content last reviewed: June 2010

Note: Although workplace inspection blitzes by the ministry are announced to the appropriate sectors in advance, individual workplaces receive no prior warning.

Throughout February, 2010, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) conducted a province-wide, workplace health and safety inspection blitz that focused mainly — but not exclusively — on 11 industrial sub-sectors:

  • Retail
  • Wholesalers
  • Transportation
  • Automotive
  • Wood and Metal Fabrication
  • Food, Beverage and Tobacco
  • Offices and Related Services (agencies that supply non-clerical labour)
  • Chemical, Rubber and Plastics
  • Mushroom Farms and Greenhouse Operations
  • Industrial Services; and
  • Utilities.

Report summary

  • During this province-wide workplace safety blitz, inspectors made 1,844 workplace visits and issued 4,942 orders, including 143 stop work orders.
  • Inspectors also issued five tickets for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Full report

Blitz activity

During the forklift and lifting devices blitz, inspectors issued orders at 1.7 times the typical rate for the industrial sector health and safety enforcement program. Stop work orders were issued at 1.5 times the regular program rate.

Table 1: February 2010 Fall Prevention Blitz Activity and April 1, 2009 – February 28, 2010 Total Industrial Sector Inspection Activity
  Industrial sector falls prevention blitz activity during
February 2010
Total industrial sector inspection activity
April 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010
Workplace visits to all sub-sectors 1,844 38,207
Orders (all types) [1] 4,942 61,741
Stop-work orders 143 1,948
Order per workplace visit 2.7 1.62
Stop work orders per workplace visit 0.08 0.05
Tickets issued 5 91

[1] Including stop-work orders.

Results and order analysis

Table 2: Inspection Blitz Results by Industrial Sector
"Industrial" subsector Workplace visits Orders (all types) Stop-work orders Tickets
Vehicle Sales and Services 372 1,176 9  
Retail 298 731 23 2
Wood and Metal Fabrication 275 685 27 2
Wholesalers 223 582 20  
Chemical Rubber and Plastics 107 255 12 1
Transportation 101 276 12  

The following analysis is based on the total orders issued during the blitz in all industrial sub-sectors.

About 63 per cent of all orders issued related to the three key priorities of this year’s forklift blitz. These were:

  1. Forklift and lifting device inspection and maintenance (1,795 orders)
  2. Operation of the forklift and lifting device by a qualified person (221 orders)
  3. Safe work environment (1,088 orders)

The highest number of orders were issued to employers for violations related to examination of a lifting device to determine its capability of handling the maximum load under OHSA Section 51(1)(b). This represented more than 23 per cent (1,160) of all of the orders issued (4,942) during the blitz.

Another nine per cent (448) of the orders related to maintenance of lifting devices and another five per cent (243) involved the general duty clause under OHSA Section 25(2)(h).

Other orders issued during the blitz included:

  • Eight per cent (412) involving a lack of worker participation, worker inspections, Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) meetings, JHSC minutes and member certification requirements under OHSA Section 8 (Health and Safety Representative) and Section 9 (Joint Health and Safety Committees). These results suggest that the Safe At Work Ontario focus on the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is appropriate.
  • Eight per cent (404) involving development or maintenance of policies and programs and posting requirements in the workplace under OHSA Section 25. These results suggest that the Safe At Work Ontario focus on the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is appropriate.
  • Four per cent (183) involving requirements under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation.

All of the sectors focused on during the blitz received orders. This indicated these sectors were correctly identified.

The top three sectors – vehicle sales & service, retail and wood & metal fabrication – had the highest number of field visits and the highest number of orders issued. The orders issued for these sectors – 2,592 – represented more than 52 per cent of all orders.

Workplace inspection blitzes

The ministry announces inspection blitzes in advance to the media and targeted sectors and posts the announcement and blitz results on the ministry’s website. The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its safety regulations.

Inspection blitzes are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. In selecting workplaces for proactive inspections, the ministry uses predictive indicators such as inherent hazards and poor records of compliance with safety regulations.

Inspectors’ findings determine their subsequent level of engagement and frequency of inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors often refer employers to Health and Safety Associations for compliance assistance and training.

Moving forward

The results of this blitz support the ministry’s zero tolerance for inattention to forklift and lifting device hazards in the workplace. Because of the results of this and a blitz held in 2009, the ministry will include forklift and lifting device hazards as a focus of an enhanced enforcement initiative planned for 2010–11.

The ministry will continue to work with its partners through industrial sector interagency groups.

The ministry will continue to watch for hazards related to this blitz during routine workplace inspections.