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Blitz Results: New and Young Workers

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

New and young workers in Ontario are four times more likely to be injured during their first month of employment than at any other time.

From May 1 to August 31, 2011, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted a workplace inspection blitz focusing on new and young workers in the industrial and health care sectors to enforce compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

The goal of the blitz was to check that new and young workers

  • are properly instructed, trained and supervised
  • are working in accordance with the requirements of the OHSA, and
  • meet the applicable minimum age requirements prescribed for the work they are doing.

MOL inspectors focused on workplaces where many new and young workers are employed, including the service sector, transportation, municipalities (e.g., parks and recreation), logging, farming operations wood and metal fabrication, long-term care homes, retirement homes; nursing homes and intensive support residences / supported group living residences (also known as "group homes").

Report summary

Workplace incidents continue to kill and critically injure new and young Ontario workers.

Of the orders issued during this blitz under the industrial program, most related to:

  • General duties (includes duties of employers, supervisors, and workers under section 25 of the OHSA)
  • Requirements relating to Health and Safety Representatives and Committees (OHSA sections 8 and 9)
  • Violence and harassment (OHSA section 32).

Industrial

From May 1 to August 31, 2011, MOL inspectors conducted 3,458 blitz-related visits to 2,847 industrial workplaces and issued 9,799 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including 214 stop work orders.

Of the 9,799 orders issued in the industrial sector, 8,625 (88.0%) were time-based; 862 (8.8%) were orders for immediate compliance; 98 (1.0%) were orders for compliance plans; and 214 (2.2%) were stop-work orders.

Non-compliance noted by inspectors involved training, orientation and supervision, personal protective equipment, and the internal responsibility system.

The blitz provided an opportunity to reach large numbers of new and young workers, both skilled and unskilled.

Health Care

From May 1 to August 31, 2011, MOL inspectors conducted 186 visits to 164 health care workplaces and issued 456 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including four stop-work orders.

Of the 456 orders issued in Health Care sectors, 423 (92.8%) were time-based; 19 (4.2%) were orders for immediate compliance; eight (1.8%) were orders for compliance plans; and four (0.4%) were stop-work orders.

More than 85 of the orders involved violations of the Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93).

Twelve of the orders involved violations of the Needle Safety Regulation (O. Reg. 474/07).

Full report

Workplace inspection blitzes

Ministry workplace inspection blitzes are part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. Although the blitzes are announced in advance to the subject sectors, individual workplaces are not forewarned. Aggregate results are posted on the ministry's website. The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and are intended to promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

Inspectors' findings may affect the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may refer employers to Health and Safety Associations for compliance assistance, education and training.

Blitz focus

The four month blitz focused on two groups:

  1. New young workers between 14-24 years of age and
  2. new workers aged 25 and older who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned to a new job.

The goal was to ensure that:

  • New and young workers are being given the required information and instruction when starting a new job and are receiving required supervision
  • workers meet minimum age requirements specified in sector-specific OHSA regulations
  • required safety measures, equipment, and procedures are in place to prevent injuries.

Specific areas of focus in the industrial and health care sectors included:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Internal Responsibility System (IRS)
  • Presence of a joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative (HSR)
  • Associated hazards (electrical, chemical, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), violence, falls, confined spaces).

The following are additional issues and hazards that MOL inspectors focused on in the health care sector:

  • cut and puncture injuries from needles and other sources
  • students hired as personal service workers (PSWs) during the summer
  • hand hygiene (important for preventing the spread of infectious diseases among health care workers)
  • workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), including labels and Material Safety Data Sheets
  • ergonomics/musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including patient/resident handling (lift, transfers and repositioning), pre-inspection of lifting devices and use of lifting devices, manual material handling, and the safe use of carts.

Inspection activity

Industrial

During the new and young worker blitz, MOL inspectors issued orders at a rate of 3.8 orders per workplace visit – close to four times the rate typical for the industrial sector health and safety enforcement program.

MOL inspectors conducted 3,458 blitz-related visits to 2,847 industrial workplaces and issued 9,799 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including 214 stop-work orders.

A wide range of workplaces and sub-sectors were visited, including:

  • service (retail, restaurant, tourism & hospitality, wholesale, vehicle sales & service, and offices & related services
  • farming
  • wood and metal fabrication
  • logging
  • government
  • transportation
  • automotive
Table 1: Industrial sector new and young workers blitz inspections in May 1 to August 31, 2011
total Industrial sector enforcement activity (including the blitz) May 1, to August 31, 2011
  Industrial Sector New and Young Worker Blitz
May 1 to August 31, 2011
Total Industrial Sector Enforcement Activity (including the blitz)
May 1 to August 31, 2011
Number of workplaces visited 2,847 7,679
Total workplace visits 3,458 12,044
Orders (all types) 9,799 23,430
Stop-work orders 214 833
Orders per workplace visit 3.83 1.95
Stop-work orders per workplace visit 0.06 0.07


Health Care

During the new and young worker blitz, MOL inspectors issued orders at a rate of 2.45 orders per workplace visit – more than twice the rate typical for the health care sector health and safety enforcement program. The rate of stop-work orders per workplace visit during the blitz was almost twice the typical rate.

MOL inspectors conducted 186 workplace visits to 164 health care workplaces and issued 456 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including four stop-work orders.

Inspectors visited a wide range of workplaces as part of this blitz, focusing on:

  • long-term care homes
  • retirement homes
  • acute care hospitals
  • intensive support residences / supported group living residences (also known as "group homes").
Table 2: Health Care sector new and young workers blitz inspections in May 1 to August 31, 2011
total Health Care sector enforcement activity (including the blitz) May 1, to August 31, 2011
  Health Care Sector New and Young Worker Blitz
May 1 to August 31, 2011
Total Health Care Sector Enforcement Activity (including the blitz)
May 1 to August 31, 2011
Number of workplaces visited 164 582
Total workplace visits 186 925
Orders (all types) 456 1,341
Stop-work orders 4 11
Orders per workplace visit 2.45 1.45
Stop-work orders per workplace visit 0.02 0.01


Order analysis

Industrial

The following is a breakdown of inspection activity in the industrial sector for the two focus groups of the blitz:

  • New, young workers (under 25): 191 workplaces visited, 704 orders issued, 14 stop work-orders.
  • New workers (over 25 years of age who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned): 2,656 workplaces visited, 9,095 orders issued, 200 stop-work orders.

The top 10 most frequently issued orders in the industrial sector related to failure to:

  • Take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers
  • Prepare and review a health and safety policy and develop a program to implement the policy
  • Maintain equipment in good condition
  • Provide workers with information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety
  • Post a copy of the OHSA in the workplace
  • Have a health and safety representative
  • Assess the risk of workplace violence
  • Have a workplace violence and harassment policy in place
  • Conduct workplace inspections by a health and safety representative or JHSC member
  • Comply with machine guarding and lockout requirements

Orders were issued under Ontario Regulation 851/90 for industrial establishments for the following sections:

  • Housekeeping – sections 11–20
  • Fire safety – sections 22–23
  • Machine guarding and lockout – sections 24–42
  • Material handling – sections 44–66
  • Personal protection equipment – sections 79–86
  • Industrial hygiene – sections 124–139

Orders were also issued under WHMIS regulation 860/90 and under the designated substance regulation.

No orders were issued for minimum-age requirements under section 4 of the Industrial Regulation 851/90.

This chart lists the 10 industrial sub-sectors receiving the most orders during the blitz:

Table 3: Orders issued by industrial sub-sectors
Sub-sector Orders issued
Retail 2,390
Restaurants 1,883
Tourism, Hospitality & Recreational Services 1,136
Food, Beverage & Tobacco 688
Vehicle Sales & Service 606
Wood & Metal Fabrication 565
Wholesalers 520
Industrial Services 274
Textile, Printing 230
Offices & Related Services 201

The chart below shows the 10 sub-sectors visited most frequently by inspectors during this blitz and the number of workplace visits in each sub-sector:

Table 4: Workplace visits by industrial sub-sectors
Sub-sector Workplace visists
Retail 949
Restaurants 481
Tourism, Hospitality & Recreational Services 346
Wood & Metal Fabrication 257
Vehicle Sales & Service 188
Food, Beverage & Tobacco 187
Wholesalers 155
Government 96
Offices & Related Services 97
Automotive 64

Health Care

The following is a breakdown of inspection activity in the health care sector for the two focus groups of the blitz:

  • New, young workers (under 25): 112 workplaces visited, 268 orders issued, 2 stop work orders,
  • New workers (over 25 years of age who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned): 52 workplaces visited, 188 orders issued, 2 stop work orders.

Of the seven sub-sectors covered by the MOL's Health Care Health and Safety Program during this blitz MOL inspectors issued the most orders in the following three sub-sectors:

Table 5: Orders issued by health care sub-sectors
Sub-sector Orders issued
Homes for Residential Care 79
Professional Offices & Agencies 72
Treatment Clinics & Specialized Services 24

There were 86 orders issued under the Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93). Of these, the five most frequent orders related to:

  • Employers' obligation to have written measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers regarding a range of issues such as safe work practices and safety working conditions (O. Reg. 67/93, s. 9)
  • Material handling (materials, articles or things must be handled, stored and disposed of in a manner that will not cause a hazard (O. Reg. 67/93, s. 103))
  • Work surfaces (to be kept free of obstructions and hazards (O. Reg.67/93, s. 33))
  • Machine guarding (to prevent access to moving parts (O. Reg. 67/93, s. 45))
  • Consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative on measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers (O. Reg. 67/93, s. 8).

Twelve orders were issued under the Needle Safety Regulation (O. Reg. 474/07). All the orders related to failure to comply with the requirements for the provision of safety-engineered needles. Section 3 of the Needle Safety Regulation stipulates that when a worker is required to use a hollow-bore needle, the employer shall provide the worker with a safety-engineered needle that is appropriate for the work (O. Reg. 474/07, s. 3 (1)).

Conclusion

Industrial

The highest percentage of orders issued in the industrial sector related to:

  • General duties (the obligation of employers to take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers)
  • Preparing and reviewing a health and safety policy and the development of a program to implement it
  • Ensuring equipment is maintained in good working order

Many new and young workers are employed on a seasonal or casual basis. The results of this blitz demonstrate a need for MOL inspectors to continue to focus on whether these workers are familiar with the OHSA and whether they are receiving the required information, instruction and supervision in order to protect their health and safety and to make them aware of hazards associated with their work.

Health Care

The highest percentage of orders issued (17%) was for hazards associated with work done by new and young workers in Homes for Residential Care. This indicates that the MOL needs to continue to focus on enforcement, education and partnership activities within this sub-sector to ensure the ongoing health and safety of new and young workers is protected.

There is a need to emphasize the use of safety-engineered needles or needle-less systems to replace hollow-bore needles in order to protect new and young workers from needlestick injuries in the Health Care Sector.

The orders issued most frequently were under the Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (O. Reg. 67/93), section 9. This indicates that improvements are needed in workplaces to which this regulation applies with respect to:

  • Having in place written measures and procedures to protect the health and safety of new and young workers from hazards related to material handling, slips, trips and falls; and deficient machine guarding
  • Consulting with the JHSC or HSR on measures and procedures for protecting the health and safety of workers, including new and young workers.

Next steps

During routine workplace inspections, the ministry will continue to focus on the hazards related to new and young workers.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Employers, supervisors, workers, their health and safety associations, MOL and the WSIB all have key roles to play in ensuring health and safety in the workplace and eliminating workplace injuries and deaths.

New and young workers are a key part of the ministry's inspection focus at industrial and health care workplaces. The ministry will continue to work with its occupational health and safety partners (particularly with respect to this vulnerable group) to:

  • promote awareness of the continuing need to identify and control workplace hazards
  • promote voluntary compliance with the OHSA, and
  • strengthen the IRS.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards related to workplace involving new and young workers. Employers are required to comply with a range of duties in respect of all workers, such as instructing, training and supervising workers in order to protect their health and safety and making them aware of the associated workplace hazards.

Compliance and training assistance for employers

For more information on identifying, preventing and controlling workplace hazards, please contact the Ministry of Labour's health and safety partners.