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Blitz Results: Slips, Trips and Falls Blitz 2015

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: July 8, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: July 2015

Workers continue to be at risk of slips, trips and falls.

From February 2 to March 15, 2015, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz at industrial workplaces in Ontario. They focused on hazards involving slips, trips and falls.

Inspectors visited a range of industrial workplaces. The inspectors checked that employers were properly assessing and addressing hazards that could cause workers to slip, trip or fall, as required by the:

The goals of this blitz were to:

  • raise awareness of slips, trips and falls at workplaces
  • increase workplace compliance with the law and
  • prevent injuries and illnesses that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Report summary

In 2013, there were 11 work-related deaths from falls in industrial workplaces.

In that same year, just over 70 per cent of fall-related injuries in all sectors were due to “same level falls” (falls on floors and other surfaces) in Ontario. Falls from heights accounted for almost 29 per cent of fall-related injuries and many of the work-related deaths in Ontario.

In 2013, 11,814 workers in Ontario workplaces had compensation claims approved by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for missing time at work due to incidents involving falls.

From February 2 to March 15, 2015, ministry inspectors conducted 1,084 visits to 946 workplaces and issued 3,603 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 65 stop work orders. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.

As of June 9, 2015, more than 85 per cent of the orders issued during the blitz were complied with.

The top three most frequently issued orders involved employers’ failure to:

  • keep floors and other work surfaces free of hazards and accumulations of refuse, snow or ice
  • maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition
  • provide mandatory general awareness health and safety training to workers and supervisors

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 to be visited by inspectors are not identified in advance. 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 impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Blitz focus

Industrial inspectors visited a range of workplaces, including:

  • restaurants
  • retail establishments
  • food, beverage and tobacco products plants
  • vehicle sales and service workplaces
  • arborist/landscaping workplaces
  • wood and metal fabrication plants

In particular, inspectors targeted workplaces:

  • known to have a high frequency of injuries involving falls
  • where complaints had been received
  • where there was a history of non-compliance

Inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

  • Policies and Programs: Inspectors checked that employers had policies and programs in place to protect workers from slips, trips and falls, including requirements for good “housekeeping” practices. The inspectors also checked that employers were ensuring investigations were conducted when there were fall-related incidents. They also checked that employers had emergency rescue procedures for workers who fell or whose fall arrest equipment was activated.
  • Access and egress: Inspectors checked that employers were providing appropriate access and egress to work areas.
  • Safe Work Practices: Inspectors checked that employers had developed safe work practices, including assessing slip, trip and fall risks. They also checked to see if workers were following safe work practices such as cleaning up spills and safely using ladders, mobile stands and platforms.
  • Falls from ladders, mobile stands and platforms: Inspectors checked that employers had assessed ladders, stands and platforms for hazards, and that this equipment was maintained and placed on firm footing when in use.
  • Same-Level Slips and Trips: Inspectors checked that floors and other work surfaces were kept free of obstructions, hazards (such as oily or greasy floors) and accumulations of refuse, snow or ice. Special attention was paid to walkways, aisles and other areas where there was pedestrian traffic.
  • Falls from Heights: Inspectors checked that fall arrest equipment and/or guardrails or other safety equipment was being used for work on platforms, raised floors, mezzanines, balconies or other work at heights.
  • Falls from trucks/loads: Inspectors checked that workers were using safe work practices when they were at risk of possible falls from the beds of trucks, trailers or the top of loads.
  • Ergonomics: Inspectors checked that workers were performing tasks in a manner that prevented slips, trips and falls. This included checking workers’ posture, use of force and other ergonomic factors.
  • Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Devices: Inspectors checked that fall protection equipment was maintained in good condition.
  • Worker Training: Inspectors checked that workers received information, instruction and supervision to prevent injuries and deaths from slips, trips and falls, including the right to refuse unsafe work.

Industrial inspection activity

From February 2 to March 15, 2015, inspectors conducted 1,084 visits to 946 workplaces and issued 3,603 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 65 stop work orders.

On average, 3.32 orders were issued per workplace visit.

Table 1: Slips, Trips and Falls Activity
February 2 – March 15, 2015
Program Activities Numbers
Workplaces visited 946
Total visits[1] 1,084
Orders[2] 3,603
Stop work orders 65
Requirements 35
Average orders per workplace visit 3.32

[1]Total number of individual visits ministry inspectors made to all workplaces during this blitz.
[2]Total orders including requirements.

The orders were issued for various violations under the:

Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors. See Table 2 below for the top 10 sectors ranked by orders and workplaces visited.

Table 2: Top 10 Industrial Sectors
Sector Orders Issued Stop Work
Orders Issued
Requirements
Issued
Workplaces
Visited
Retail 1093 22 7 353
Restaurants 485 5 0 88
Wood & Metal Fabrication 366 16 7 70
Vehicle Sales & Service 311 8 5 73
Wholesalers 265 2 5 62
Food, Beverage & Tobacco 177 1 2 48
Automotive 127 1 0 23
Tourism, Hospitality & Recreational Services 109 1 2 24
Industrial Services 109 1 2 22
Chemical, Rubber & Plastics 83 0 0 24

Order analysis

Table 3: Most Frequently Issued Orders During Blitz
Reason for Order Number of Orders Percentage of Total Orders Issued
Failure to keep a floor or other work surface free of obstructions, hazards and accumulation of refuse, snow or ice [Industrial Reg. S. 11] 239 6.63%
Failure to maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition [OHSA S. 25 (1)(b)] 238 6.61%
Failure to ensure a worker completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program [Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Reg. S. 1] 217 6.02%
Failure to post a copy of the OHSA and explanatory material [OHSA S. 25 (2)(i)] 212 5.88%
Failure to ensure a supervisor completes a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program [Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Reg. S. 2] 151 4.19%
Failure to ensure lifting device safety (i.e. inspection, operation, maximum-rated load) [Industrial Reg. S. 51] 141 3.91%
Failure to prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program [OHSA S. 25(2)(j)] 134 3.72%
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances [OHSA S. 25 (2)(h)] 119 3.30%
Failure to ensure Material Safety Data Sheets are available and maintained [WHMIS Reg. S. 17] 101 2.80%
Failure to ensure there is a health and safety representative [OHSA S. 8(1)] 97 2.0%

The 65 stop work orders represented less than two per cent of all orders issued.

Of the 3,603 orders issued, 471 orders or 13.07 per cent were issued under Part III.0.1 of the OHSA provisions for workplace violence and harassment. They involved failure of employers to comply with requirements to:

  • have workplace violence and harassment policies and programs in place and
  • provide information and instruction on those policies and programs.

Observations

To prevent slips, trips and falls, increased attention must be given in all workplaces to keeping floors and other work surfaces clear of hazards.

Workplaces may be better able to identify and control hazards when they provide workers and supervisors with required mandatory basic occupational health and safety training.

Employers need to continue to take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to protect workers from hazards that can result in slips, trips and falls.

Next steps

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of slips, trips and falls in Ontario workplaces.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system (IRS).

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong IRS in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. To establish a strong IRS in the workplace, workplace parties must comply with their respective statutory duties.

Everyone – employers, supervisors, workers, health and safety associations and the government – has a key role to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. This is essential to preventing injuries and deaths.

Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards that can result in slips, trips and falls.

Compliance help for employers

Please contact our safety partners for more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards.

View health and safety awareness products and training for workplace parties.

Visit the ministry’s Stop Falls resources.