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Blitz Results:
Conveyor Guarding and Lockout Hazards in Industrial Workplaces

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: March 2011
  • Content last reviewed: March 2011

Guarding and lockout hazards involving conveyor systems are a potential problem at any industrial workplace in Ontario that uses this equipment.

From November 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted a blitz to enforce compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The focus was on hazards involving conveyor systems in industrial sectors where conveyors are used.

The goal was to check for compliance with requirements that conveyors have proper guarding devices and are being locked out when needed. Inspectors also checked that conveyor workers are protected from developing musculoskeletal disorders such as repetitive strain injuries.

Report summary

Conveyor-related injuries occur less often than other types of injuries in industrial workplaces. However, the injuries that do occur tend to be more severe.

Between 2005 and 2008, two workers died and 48 workers were seriously injured in conveyor incidents.

In November and December, 2010, MOL inspectors conducted 1,097 field visits to 833 workplaces and issued 3,092 orders under the OHSA, including 111 stop work orders.

More than 30 per cent of the orders involved guarding violations under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments.

Almost 20 per cent of the orders involved employer duty violations under the OHSA.

Full report

Workplace inspection blitzes

Inspection blitzes are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. They are announced to the sector by the ministry in advance although individual workplaces are not identified in advance. Results are posted on the ministry’s website. The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its safety regulations.

Inspectors’ findings may impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors refer employers to Health and Safety Associations for compliance assistance and training.

Blitz focus

During the conveyor guarding blitz, inspectors checked that:

  • Conveyors have proper guarding devices
  • Conveyors area being locked out when needed; and
  • Conveyor workers are protected from developing musculoskeletal disorders, such as repetitive strain injuries.

MOL inspectors visited workplaces and sectors that typically use conveyors, including:

  • Farming operations
  • Large bakeries
  • Food and beverage manufacturers
  • Waste recycling
  • Cement plants
  • Auto sector
  • Printing sector
  • Soil screening operations for landscaping
  • Saw mills
  • Chemical plants
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Automotive plants
  • Computer plants
  • Electronic plants

In particular, inspectors targeted establishments:

  • Known to have conveyors
  • Known to have hazardous processes and equipment
  • Where complaints have been received
  • Where there is a poor compliance history

Inspection activity

During the conveyor blitz, inspectors issued orders at a rate (orders per field visit) that was almost twice the typical rate for the industrial sector health and safety enforcement program. The ratio of stop-work orders per field visit during the blitz was almost twice the typical rate.

Industrial sector conveyor blitz inspections November 1 to December 31, 2010, and total industrial sector inspections April 1 to December 31, 2010
  Industrial sector conveyor blitz inspections
Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010
Total industrial sector inspections
April 1 to Dec. 31, 2010
Workplace visits to all sub-sectors 1,097 31,275
Orders (all types)[ 1 ] 3,092 51,134
Stop-work orders 111 1,732
Order per workplace visit 2.8 1.6
Stop-work orders per workplace visit 0.1 0.06

[ 1 ]Including stop work orders

Order analysis

Orders were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulations for Industrial Establishments for various violations. The major orders included:

Orders issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations for Industrial Establishments
Section Description Number
of Orders
Percentage of Total Orders
Industrial S. 24, 25 & 34 Guarding 944 31 per cent
OHSA S. 25(1)(b) Maintaining equipment in good condition 204 7 per cent
OHSA S. 25(2)(h) Employers shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstance to protect workers 144 5 per cent
OHSA S. 25(2)(a) Employers shall provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety 91 3 per cent
OHSA S. 25(2)(j) Employers shall prepare a health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program 85 3 per cent
Industrial S. 11 Keep floors free of obstructions, hazards and accumulation of refuse, snow and ice 66 2 per cent
Industrial S. 46 Securing machinery, equipment or material against tipping or falling 48 2 per cent
Industrial S. 45(b) Transporting, placing and storing of material, articles or things so they will not tip, collapse or fall and can be removed with endangering workers 38 1 per cent
Industrial S. 76 Locking out 19 Less than 1 per cent

Of the orders issued, 11 per cent were stop work orders for mobile equipment that failed to meet the requirements of the legislation and were a danger or hazard to the health or safety of workers (OHSA S. 57(6)).


The highest percentage of orders issued (31 per cent) was for guarding contraventions. This indicated that the workplaces visited required improvements to ensure workers were not exposed to moving parts and pinch points that could endanger their safety.

The low percentage of orders for lockout (less than one per cent) was due to the difficulty of inspectors observing conveyor repair and maintenance in progress since it is not a routine regular activity in industrial workplaces. However, inspectors made workplace parties aware of the hazards of failing to lockout during maintenance and repair.

The high percentage (almost 20 per cent) of orders for contraventions of employers’ duties under OHSA S. 25 suggested the Safe At Work Ontario focus on the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) was appropriate at the visited workplaces.

The increase in the orders per workplace visit and stop work orders per workplace visit is an indication that inspectors targeted workplaces that need improvement in health and safety.

Compliance help for employers

Employers are encouraged to seek workplace health and safety compliance assistance from the health and safety associations that comprise Health & Safety Ontario: Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, Public Services Health & Safety Association, Workplace Safety North, and Workplace Safety & Prevention Services.

Next steps

The results of this blitz confirm the need to continue enforcement activity on guarding violations that expose workers to moving parts and pinch points. As a result of the findings, the loading dock blitz in February 2011 is focusing on lockout and guarding of equipment. In addition, the new and young worker blitz later in 2011 will have a focus on guarding and lockout issues.

The ministry will also continue to focus its resources on conveyor guarding during routine workplace inspections of Ontario’s industrial workplaces. Inspectors will check for compliance with requirements that:

  • Conveyor systems be maintained in a safe operating condition, and
  • Employers provide safe workplaces in the industrial sector.

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of conveyor guarding hazards.

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.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards involving mobile equipment and its use in both underground and surface environments.

For more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards, please contact:

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS)
Telephone: 905-614-1400
Toll-free: 1-877-494-WSPS (9777)
Fax: 905-614-1414

Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
Telephone: 905-625-0100
Toll-free: 1-800-263-5024
Fax: 905-625-8998

Public Services Health & Safety Association
Telephone: 416-250-2131
Toll-free: 1-877-250-7444
Fax: 416-250-7484

Workplace Safety North (WSN)
Telephone: 705-474-7233
Toll-free: 1-888-730-7821
Fax: 705-472-5800