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Blitz Results: Machine Guarding Blitz 2014

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: April 10, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: April 2015

Workers can be exposed to a number of hazards when machines are not properly guarded or locked out during maintenance, repair and other activities at industrial sector workplaces. These hazards can result in serious injuries such as amputations of limbs, or death.

From November 3 to December 14, 2014, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz at industrial workplaces in Ontario. They focused on hazards involving unguarded machines and improper lockout of machines and equipment.

The inspectors checked that employers were taking appropriate action to assess and address possible hazards involving machines that were not properly guarded, locked out or blocked. This included checking that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Machine guards prevent worker access to moving parts of machinery. Lockout ensures machines do not start up unexpectedly. Blocking prevents a machine that is temporarily raised from falling or moving during work such as maintenance.

The goal of the blitz was to:

  • raise awareness of machine guarding, lockout hazards and other safety issues
  • raise awareness of rights and responsibilities under the OHSA
  • address and remedy non-compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • increase workplace compliance with the law
  • prevent worker injuries and illness

Report summary

Workers can suffer serious injuries such as amputation of limbs, or death, if machines have improper or missing guards or if improper lockout procedures are used.

In 2012, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board received claims from the following workers for lost-time injuries – injuries that resulted in workers having to take time off work:

  • 1,976 workers who were caught in or compressed by equipment
  • 305 workers who were rubbed or abraded by friction, pressure or jarred by vibration
  • 367 workers who had body parts amputated

From November 3 to December 14, 2014, ministry inspectors conducted 821 visits to 676 workplaces and issued 3,669 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 112 stop work orders. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.

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

  • ensure pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment had guarding devices
  • maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition
  • take reasonable precautions for the protection of workers

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

Ministry inspectors visited a range of workplaces in the industrial sector. In particular, inspectors paid attention to the following types of workplaces:

  • wood and metal fabrication
  • manufacturing
  • chemical and plastics
  • automotive
  • sawmills
  • building supply centres
  • food beverage and tobacco
  • pulp and paper
  • textiles and printing

The blitz focused on workplaces:

  • known to have machinery
  • known to have hazardous processes and equipment
  • where complaints had been received
  • where there was a poor compliance history

The inspectors focused on the following requirements:

Guarding: Inspectors checked that employers had ensured pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment had guarding devices. Guarding is generally required in locations where there are moving parts, in-running nip hazards or pinch points, such as power transmission interfaces and shear points.

Locking and blocking: Inspectors checked that employers had ensured workers were following lockout procedures to prevent machines from starting when they were opened or when guarding devices were removed. Ideally, equipment should be designed so repairs and maintenance are conducted without workers having to reach into dangerous spots and without the need to remove guards and other protective devices. Lockout procedures generally involve bringing the machine to a complete stop and locking out all its power sources. Inspectors also checked that employers had ensured machinery was blocked to prevent it or material from falling or moving when the machinery or material was temporarily elevated to enable workers to pass or work.

Internal responsibility system (IRS): Inspectors evaluated the workplace’s internal responsibility system to see if health and safety representatives or Joint Health and Safety Committees were in place, when appropriate, and that they were functioning as required by the OHSA.

Other hazards: Inspectors checked that employers were protecting workers from exposure to musculoskeletal disorders and exposure through skin contact and inhalation to metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents.

Industrial inspection activity

From November 3 to December 14, 2014, inspectors conducted 821 visits to 676 workplaces and issued 3,669 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 112 stop work orders.

On average, 4.47 orders were issued per workplace visit.

The orders were issued for various violations under the:

Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors.

Table 1: Top 10 Industrial Sectors, Ranked by Orders Issued and Workplaces Visited
Sector Orders Issued Stop Work Orders Issued Requirements Issued Workplaces Visited
Wood and Metal Fabrication 1,360 39 29 223
Retail 234 12 5 49
Chemical, Rubber & Plastics 233 10 8 45
Wholesalers 212 6 5 31
Automotive 204 5 4 38
Food, Beverage & Tobacco 185 5 4 35
Textiles, Printing 134 2 0 31
Industrial Services 134 2 1 26
Electrical & Electronics 114 3 3 22
Vehicle Sales & Service 113 0 10 30

Order analysis

Table 2: Most commonly issued orders under the OHSA and Industrial Regulations
Reason for Order Number of Orders Percentage total Orders Issued
Failure to ensure machine is equipped with a guard or other device to prevent access to any exposed moving parts or in-running nip hazards that could endanger a worker [Industrial Reg. S. 24 and 25] 427 11.64%
Failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by employer are maintained in good condition [OHSA S. 25(1)(b)] 325 8.86%
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for a worker’s protection [OHSA S. 25(2)(h)] 243 6.62%
Failure to ensure worker completes basic occupational health and safety awareness training program [Awareness Training Reg. S. 1(1)] 159 4.33%
Failure to ensure lifting device is thoroughly examined by competent person to determine handling capacity of the maximum load as rated [Industrial Reg. S. 51(1)(b)] 127 3.46%
Failure to post OHSA copy [OHSA S. (2)(i)] 126 3.43%
Failure to ensure supervisor completes basic occupational health and safety awareness training program [Awareness Training Reg. S. 2(1)] 99 2.70%
Failure to prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [OHSA S. 25(2)(j)] 85 2.32%
Failure to ensure material that may endanger a worker by tipping and falling is secured against tipping or falling [Industrial Reg. S. 46] 81 2.21%

The 112 stop work orders represented 3.05 per cent of all the orders issued.

Observations

The number of orders issued per workplace (as was the case with the material handling blitz in 2014) was slightly higher than previous blitzes in the industrial sector. This indicates workers continue to be exposed to machine guarding hazards.

Continued enforcement is needed to improve the health and safety of workers who operate machines with exposed moving parts and in-running nip hazards.

The ministry will also continue to target resources on machine guarding safety during routine workplace inspections of Ontario's industrial workplaces. During visits, inspectors should continue to check that employers are ensuring:

  • machines are equipped with and guarded by a device that prevents access to moving part that may endanger a worker’s safety
  • machines are equipped with and guarded by a device that prevents access to a pinch point
  • an employer’s equipment, materials and protective devices are maintained in good condition
  • workers and supervisors complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program

Next steps

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of hazards involving unguarded machines and improper lockout of machines and equipment.

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

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. Workplace parties' compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS in the workplace.

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 involving machine guarding.

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.