Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
Workers can be at risk of serious injuries, occupational diseases or even death if hazards exist when handling chemicals in workplaces.
From September 19 to October 31, 2016, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz targeting chemical handling hazards at industrial workplaces in Ontario. The inspectors checked that employers were taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards.
The blitz’s goals were to:
This blitz was part of the government’s continued commitment to preventing workplace injuries and illness through its Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative.
From 2005 to 2014, 16,207 workers received chemical-related injuries resulting in lost time at work due to exposure to caustic, noxious or allergenic substances, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
Proper chemical handling involves having effective engineering controls, good work practices, appropriate personal protective equipment and appropriate worker training in the workplace.
In September and October, 2016, inspectors conducted 803 proactive field visits to 638 workplaces and issued a total of 2,887 orders  under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations. This included 47 stop work orders. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.
The top three most frequently issued orders involved employers’ failure to ensure:
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.
During the blitz, Ministry of Labour inspectors focused on workplaces in the following sectors:
In particular, the blitz targeted workplaces:
Inspectors checked that employers, supervisors, and workers were complying with requirements for safe chemical handling under the OHSA and its regulations. They focused on the following key priorities:
Inspectors took enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the OHSA and its regulations.
From September 19, 2016 to October 31, 2016, ministry inspectors conducted 803 proactive field visits to 638 workplaces and issued 2,887 orders under the OHSA and its regulations.
On average, 4.53 orders were issued per workplace. Some of the workplaces were visited several times, with an average of 3.6 orders issued per field visit.
Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors.
|Sector||Orders Issued ||Stop Work Orders Issued||Requirements||Workplaces Visited|
|Wood and Metal Fabrication||466||10||12||76|
|Tourism, Hospitality and Recreational Services||292||1||3||58|
|Chemical, Rubber and Plastics||246||0||6||45|
|Vehicle Sales and Service||161||1||1||41|
|Food, Beverage and Tobacco||146||3||2||20|
|Reason for Order||Number of Orders||Percentage Total Orders Issued |
|Failure to prevent access to moving parts of equipment that may endanger a worker [Section 24]||132||4.57%|
|Failure to provide an eyewash fountain where a worker is exposed to a potential hazard of injury to the eye due to contact with a biological or chemical substance [Section 124]||116||4.02%|
|Failure to ensure lifting devices are examined by a competent person and safely operated within their load capacity [Section 51]||90||3.12%|
|Failure to keep floors or other surfaces free of obstructions or hazards [Section 11]||84||2.91%|
|Failure to prevent access to a machine’s pinch point by using a guard or other device [Section 25]||80||2.77%|
|Failure to ensure movement, transport or storage of materials, articles or things are done in a manner that will not endanger a worker [Section 45]||60||2.08%|
|Failure to ensure material that may endanger a worker by tipping and falling is secured [Section 46]||41||1.42%|
|Failure to ensure proper storage and transport of compressed gases [Section 49]||40||1.39%|
|Failure to ensure proper storage of flammable liquids [Section 22]||35||1.21%|
|Failure to ensure ladder safety [Section 73]||34||1.18%|
Of the 2,887 orders issued:
Employers need to be diligent in ensuring equipment, materials and protective devices are maintained in good condition. Increased attention is required to train workers to prevent chemical handling injuries, occupational illness and even death. This includes basic awareness and training related to chemicals in use in the workplace and use/care of PPE.
The ministry will continue to raise awareness of the importance of proper chemical handling in Ontario workplaces.
One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system (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 and control of hazards in the workplace.
Employers, supervisors, workers, Joint Health and Safety Committees and health and safety representatives must continue to work together to identify and control machinery hazards.
For compliance assistance, see Ministry of Labour health and safety awareness products for workplace parties, including:
Please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners for more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards.
Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.
It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.
While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.