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Blitz Results: New And Young Worker Safety On The Job

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

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

Young workers (under 25) face a greater-than-average risk of injury. And so, too, do new workers of any age who have been on the job for less than six months or who have recently been reassigned.

From May 1, to August 31, 2010, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted a blitz to enforce compliance of the Occupational Health and Safety Act focusing on the health and safety of new and young workers at construction, industrial and health care workplaces.

The goal of this workplace inspection blitz was to ensure that young and new workers are being properly oriented, trained and supervised, and that they meet the minimum age requirements for working. Inspectors also checked to ensure that employers are taking every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of young workers (as, indeed, they do for all workers).

Report Summary

Incidents involving new and young workers continue to result in critical injuries and deaths among Ontario workers. The New and Young Worker Blitz offered an opportunity to reach large numbers of semi-skilled or untrained workers and students.

Construction

During the blitz of construction sector workplaces, inspectors checked workers’ training, fall protection, ladder and scaffold use, traffic control and protection, emergency procedures, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), and the use of proper personal protective equipment.

Problems encountered by inspectors included:

  • lack of training and supervision
  • lack of personal protective equipment, and
  • improper use of fall protection.

During this blitz, 11 per cent of orders related to personal protective equipment (not including fall protection).

Industrial

Two groups of workers were targeted for the industrial blitz: those under 25 years of age and new workers over 25 years of age.

Of the orders issued during the blitz of the industrial sector:

  • duties of employers, supervisors and workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) represented 27 per cent
  • orders related to health and safety representatives and committees under OHSA sections 8 and 9 represented 16 per cent, and
  • violence and harassment prevention efforts under OHSA section 32 accounted for 15 per cent of orders. (Related amendments to OHSA came into effect on June 15 during the blitz.)

The inspectors noted:

  • lack of training, orientation and supervision
  • lack of personal protective equipment, and
  • shortcomings related to the Internal Responsibility System (IRS), as evidenced by the large percentage of orders written to correct contraventions relating to the functioning of the Joint Health and Safety Committee or health and safety representative.

Health Care

Inspectors focussed on the workplace health and safety of new and young workers in

  • retirement homes
  • group homes, and
  • community health care services.

Targeted hazards and key issues concerned:

  • worker job orientation, training and supervision
  • Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs)
  • WHMIS program
  • workplace violence
  • guarding
  • fall hazards
  • musculoskeletal disorder (MSD hazards arising from resident handling and other causes), and
  • infection prevention and control (including enforcement of the OHSA Needle Safety Regulation).

On May 7, the MOL participated in a stakeholder awareness Web-based seminar about the blitz, organized by the Public Services Health and Safety Association (Health and Community Care Team). Thirty-seven representatives of health and community care service organizations, retirement and group homes, and organized labour participated in the seminar.

During the blitz, 36 field visits were conducted in 29 health care workplaces; inspectors issued 88 orders. Most of the orders were issued for contraventions concerning:

  • taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers
  • measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers, and,
  • violence and harassment.

Full Report

Workplace Inspection Blitzes

Inspection blitzes, part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy, are announced by the ministry in advance and results are posted 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.

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

Blitz Focus

The new and young worker blitz focused on:

  • young, new workers aged 14 to 24 years, inclusive; and
  • new workers aged 25 and older who had been on the job less than six months or who had been reassigned to a new job.

Inspectors were asked to contact and talk to new and young workers to determine the workers knowledge of their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). In addition inspectors were asked to identify if supervisors were meeting their requirements under OHSA.

Construction Sector

Key hazards involving new and young workers continue to critically injure and kill Ontario construction workers. From 2006 to 2009, inclusive, 16 young Ontario workers have lost their lives in construction-related accidents; this accounts for 20 per cent of all construction fatalities over three years.

Within the same time period, 94 young workers have been critically injured, representing 15 per cent of all critical injuries in construction.

The use of semi-skilled or untrained workers and students is prevalent in the construction industry and these labourers usually assist in handling material. This blitz offered an opportunity to reach these vulnerable workers.

Inspectors visited projects within all construction sub-sectors, including:

  • ICI projects (industrial, commercial and institutional)
  • residential (high- and low-rise)
  • highway and road work (asphalt paving, repair, bridgework, sewer/ water main)
  • utilities, and
  • excavation.

Industrial Sector

Any new hire, permanent or temporary (including supervisors), with or without experience in the industry, and any current workers who are assigned new jobs are at risk.

The Institute for Work and Health notes that a new worker — of any age — on the job, is up to four times more likely to be injured during the first month than at any other time. That applies to anytime workers are “new” to the work they are performing — even if it is a new job with the same employer.

There were 11 fatalities in the industrial sector for young workers aged 15 to 24 years during 2004 to 2009. For all programs combined, the total was 27 fatalities.

Between 2004 and 2009 in the industrial sector, 466 young workers aged 15 to 24 were critically injured.

The industrial sub-sectors with the highest number of lost-time claims were services (46 per cent), manufacturing (14 per cent), transportation (7 per cent) and Schedule 2 (6 per cent) — comprising 73 per cent of the total.

Health Care Sector

The demand for workers in community health care is increasing. In addition, there can be high turnover rates and attrition in this sub-sector, resulting in more workers who are “new” to their jobs.

The focus of the blitz was new and young workers in retirement homes, group homes for residents who require care or support, and the head/administrative office for community health care services (such as health- and home-care aides, and home-support workers).

The targeted hazards and key issues concerned worker orientation, training and supervision, structure and functioning of JHSCs and health and safety representatives, WHMIS program, workplace violence (related amendments came into effect on June 15), machine guarding, falls, MSDs, infection prevention and control, enforcement of the Needle Safety Regulation (related amendments came into effect on July 1), personal protective equipment, occupational illness reporting and minimum-age requirements.

During the blitz, five inspectors paid 36 visits to 29 health care workplaces and issued 88 orders. Workplaces visited included group homes (for clients with developmental delays), long-term care homes, home-care and home-maker service offices, and public health clinics/community health centres.

The majority of orders were issued for contraventions concerning:

  • the general duty clause 25(2)(h) under OHSA, which states that the employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker
  • measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers (Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation, section 8), and
  • violence and harassment under section 32 of the OHSA.

Inspection Activity (May 1 to August 31, 2010)

Construction

Ministry health and safety inspectors conducted 2,450 workplace visits (1,999 projects) and issued 6,058 orders, including 505 stop-work orders for key hazards faced by new and young workers.

Under the Provincial Offences Act, there were 60 Part I summons and 87 Part III tickets issued at the projects for various offences, including lack of personal protective equipment and improper use of fall protection.

Industrial

Ministry health and safety inspectors conducted 4006 workplace visits to 3097 premises and issued 3,555 orders, including 255 stop-work orders for key hazards faced by new and young workers.

181 industrial health and safety inspectors visited a wide range of workplaces, including:

  • service – retail, restaurant, tourism and hospitality, wholesale, vehicle sales and service, office related service
  • manufacturing;
  • municipal
  • farming (field crops)
  • extended coverage- golf courses, amusement devices, landscaping, tree planters, camps, sales, etc., and
  • logging – tree planters.

Nine tickets issued at the premises for various offences under the Provincial Offences Act.

Health Care

Ministry health and safety inspectors paid 36 visits to 29 premises and issued 88 orders. Under the Provincial Offences Act, there were no summonses or tickets issued. (Many of the types of premises visited do not fall under a sector-specific regulation that has a scheduled list of offences, namely set fines for tickets.)

Order Analysis

Construction

Orders were issued under Ontario Regulation 213/91 sections 21-27, with regards to personal protective equipment, sections 26.1 – 26.9 for fall protection, sections 52-58 for fire safety, sections 67-69 for traffic control, sections 78-86 for ladders, and sections 125-136 for scaffolds and work platforms. Orders were also written under Ontario Regulation 860/90 for WHMIS, and the general duties sections 25-28 of the OHSA.

Of the 6,058 orders issued under the new and young worker blitz, 4 per cent (261) orders were for unsafe scaffold use and 3 per cent of orders were written for unsafe ladder use. The top three orders were:

  • general duties including duties of employers, supervisors, workers under the OHSA — 17 per cent
  • fall protection, including guardrails, coverings for opening and personal protective equipment — 12 per cent, and
  • personal protective equipment including hard hats, footwear, skin protection and eye protection — 11 per cent.

Orders issued under the fire safety sections totalled 132. Inspectors issued 94 orders under traffic protection and control and 1 per cent of all orders issued were written under the WHMIS regulation for training and material safety data sheets.

The top three construction sub-sectors visited were: residential (high rise and low rise) with 875 projects, ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) with 742 visits, and road building (asphalt paving, repair, bridgework, sewer/water main) projects with 178 visits.

Industrial

Orders were issued

  • under the general duties sections 25-28 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (duties of employers, supervisors and workers).
  • under Ontario Regulation 851/90 for industrial establishments for
    • housekeeping
    • fire safety
    • machine guarding
    • material handling,
    • personal protective equipment, and
    • industrial hygiene
  • under Ontario Regulation 860/90 for
    • WHMIS, and
    • designated substances.

No orders were issued during the blitz for minimum age requirements under section 4 of the industrial regulations.

Of the 3,586 orders were issued during the blitz, the top three concerned:

  • general duties (which includes duties of employers, supervisors and workers under the OHSA), 27 per cent of all the orders
  • health and safety representatives and committees under section 8 and 9 of the OHSA, 16 per cent of the orders, and
  • violence and harassment under section 32 of the OHSA, represented 15 per cent of orders.

Also,

  • 1,052 orders were issued under the material handling and lifting devices sections
  • 727 orders were issued under the WHMIS regulation for training and material safety data sheets, and
  • 480 orders were issued under machine guarding sections of the industrial regulations.

The five types of industrial workplaces most commonly inspected during the blitz were:

  • retail – 1,003
  • restaurants (unlicensed/licensed) – 718
  • hospitality and tourism – 391
  • wood and metal fabrication – 279, and
  • vehicle sales and service – 277.

Health Care

Of the 88 orders issued during the blitz, 86 were orders with a time-bound deadline (approximately 98 per cent), one stop work order, and one immediate order (complied with at the time of the workplace visit). For all workplace visit activity at health care workplaces during the blitz, there were 1318 time-bound orders (approximately 91 per cent of all orders), 12 stop-work orders (less than 1 per cent) and 78 immediate orders (about 5 per cent).

Thirty-one of the 88 orders issued during the blitz (approximately 35 percent) pertained to hazards and key issues targeted during the blitz.

During the blitz, an average of 2.4 orders per workplace visit were issued. This is more than double the rate of orders per workplace visit issued for all health care workplace visits in the province (average of 1orders per workplace visit).

During the blitz, the top three orders issued were for:

  • General duties of employers under the OHSA (38 per cent)
  • Measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers under sections 8 and 9 of the Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation (represented 21 per cent), and
  • Violence and harassment under section 32 of the OHSA (14 per cent).

Next Steps

The Ministry of Labour will continue to focus on the hazards related to this blitz during routine workplace inspections.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Employers, supervisors, workers, their health and safety associations and the government all have key roles to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, leading to the elimination of workplace injuries and deaths.

Construction

The Ministry of Labour will continue to communicate that certain hazards remain a leading cause of new and young worker workplace critical injuries and fatalities and require an increased awareness when these vulnerable workers are on the project. Workers must be adequately trained in all facets of their job including fall protection, personal protective equipment and emergency procedures.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards associated with new and young workers. For more information on identifying and preventing these hazards, please contact the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA).

Industrial

The Ministry of Labour will continue to communicate that key hazards remain a leading cause of new and young worker workplace critical and fatal injuries and requires an increased awareness when these vulnerable workers are on the project. Workers must be adequately trained in all facets of their job including fall protection, personal protective equipment and emergency procedures. Repeating this blitz will be considered next year.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards associated with new and young workers. For more information on identifying and preventing these hazards, please contact Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS).

Health Care

New and young workers are part of the ministry’s inspection focus at health care workplaces.

The ministry will continue to work with its occupational health and safety system partners to further promote workplace awareness of continuing need to identify and control these hazards, to promote voluntary compliance and the Internal Responsibility System. Resource information is available from the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA).